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Trip Report - Flinders Ranges. -( long..)

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Trip Report - Flinders Ranges. -( long..)

Day 1. - Sorry the report is long !

The drive up to Clare in our 4WD was easy as the traffic conditions were excellent. We arrived around midday & hubby dropped me off in town whilst he visited a client for work. I walked around the town & to be honest it was rather boring so I stopped at the local pub & had lime & bitters until hubby returned.

Afterwards; we decided to head to the Skillogalee Estate for lunch which was recommended to us by friends. We were lucky as we got the last table available.

The restaurant setting is very pretty sitting overlooking a delightful valley of grapevines.

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The food & wine was excellent, the atmosphere delightful although the service was slow but we didn’t really mind as we had nowhere to go except for checking into the Clare Country Club.

We had been to Clare before so we decided to visit a few other wineries which we had missed on our previous trip after lunch. The first winery on our agenda was Pikes as our friends are good friends with the owners & had told us to visit them. The winery is gorgeous & the wines excellent too so we brought 6 bottles to take with us for future use in the Flinders Ranges.

It was now getting late so we headed to the Country Club for check in. Our room was spacious & comfortable but definitely not luxurious. We were just happy to hang around the motel & have dinner which we had heard was okay as evidently it’s difficult to find restaurants open for dinner except for the pubs.

Day Two -

We woke early & filled our water bottles up & stopped into Town for a few snacks to buy for our journey into the Flinders. We have decided to split up the route so we will go one way & come back to Adelaide another route.

Today we are driving to Rawnsley Station located near Wilpena Pound via Laura & Melrose. The drive up through this route was extremely interesting as there are some pretty historic tiny towns with some fabulous classical outback early Australian buildings.

We really loved Laura & also Melrose which sits proudly below at the foot of Mount Remarkable National Park. Melrose is the oldest town in the Flinder’s Ranges & was named by Edward John Eyre in 1840.

We stopped off at Bluey’s Blundstone Blacksmith Cafe which is housed in an outstanding early Australian building with the blacksmith shop itself registered as a private museum. The new owners were absolutely delightful & the coffee was excellent too.

After our break we headed towards Wilmington & cut across to Carrieton as hubby has now decided he wants to get off the sealed roads & hit the dirt ones. At Carrieton we stopped & walked around the town and viewed the beautiful stone buildings dating back from the late1800’s.

We passed the deserted ghost town of Hammond which was incredibly fascinating with some wonderful early Australian historic houses proudly on display. This town was definitely one off our highlights of the trip. This town is an excellent location for taking unique outback photos.

From Carrieton we drove onwards to Craddock which is another striking outback town with charming stone buildings & traditional churches just glowing in the sunshine against the backdrop of the Flinder’s Ranges.

From Craddock we drove via the dirt road to Hawker were we stopped off at the information centre which is housed in the local garage & picked up some brochures & maps.

We finally arrived at Rawnesley Park Station located on the south eastern edge of Wilpena Pound approximately 30-kilometres south of Hawker.

The drive into the station is striking with sweeping views of the Bluff. The sun reflecting on the ochre coloured ranges is divine & we stop before checking in to take some exquisite shots of this truly beautiful scenery.

The reception office is down a dirt road & housed in a weatherboard house. There is also other cabins close by & the Woolshed Restaurant which we will try tonight.

We were given our key to our Cypress Cabin which was located up another dirt road tucked away & nestled overlooking the picturesque mountain ranges with dramatic views of the sunburnt ochre Rawnsley Bluff & countryside.

The luxury eco villa is absolutely gorgeous & we find the roof has a retractable ceiling offering night sky viewing from the comfort of your bed. Fully equipped kitchen, huge verandah with BBQ, TV and DVD player was also supplied.

The floors are all made from the local Cypress pine & the walls are made from tin & rendered straw bale walls. Perfect!

We unpacked our things & decided we would drive out to Black Gap & see where the walk starts for viewing the entrance of Wilpena Pound. The road is a heavy dirt track & we are now glad we have hired a 4WD as a normal sedan would definitely have its restrictions.

The countryside is magnificent with delightful River Red Gums lining the dried river creeks while the Dwarf Mallees, Native Pines & Sheoaks are scattered around the grassy stony hills.

Finally arriving at the starting point of the walk; we noticed the signs stating the walk can be challenging & requires at least one hour each way. We decide to leave it for another day when we are more prepared & head back to the Station for a rewarding bottle of Pikes Sauvignon Blanc wine.

Dinner was down the road at the Woolshed Restaurant which is housed in a rustic old woolshed built from corrugated iron. The owners are absolutely delightful & very Australian we had a really funny night with them & the food was extra good too for such an outback Station.

Driving back home to the cabin we noticed it’s a full moon which means no star watching tonight.

Day 3 –

Today we have decided to head to the Prairie Hotel for the local cuisine in Parachilna via Bunyeroo Gorge & Blinman. Firstly; we drive the Bunyeroo Gorge road which is very rocky passing over many dried river beds, creeks & windy hills.

The terrain has it all from sweeping plains & valleys covered in native Pines to rugged ochre gorges. We drove through the Bunyeroo Gorge & then decided to head to Blinman via the Aroona Valley which has spectacular scenery of rock formations, dried riverbeds & historic ruins.

We finally arrived in Blinman for morning coffee & found the local pub had the best coffee ever! The town is very interesting as it used to be a thriving mining town with a population of 1500 but today there are only 22.

The town began with the discovery of copper in 1859 and commencement of mining in 1862. The Blinman Mine is today a popular visitor attraction & there are tours available at the mining tin shed. The 4WD’s lined up against the Blinman Hotel made a fabulous opportunity for a great shot of an Australian Outback scene.

After our little coffee break we head towards Parachilna for lunch but after seeing all the 4WD’s let’s hope not everyone has the same idea about lunch.

We arrived a few hours later & the Prairie Hotel is definitely unique however when we checked out the hotel the whole place was buzzing & it was far too busy for lunch as most of the tables were reserved which really made me mad as I had asked at the Information Centre in Hawker did we need to book a table … NO they said you will be fine!!

The Prairie Hotel is well known as a destination for Australian and international filmmakers. Many famous films have been produced here the most famous was the "Rabbit-Proof Fence" shot by Director Phillip Noyce and Director of Photography Chris Doyle.

The hotel is also famous for its food & renowned for innovative dishes with Australian native 'Flinders Feral Food'. There were seats available outside but the flies here in Parachilna were terrible & we didn’t want to share lunch with them so we now had to make a decision.

Hubby decided we would drive to Leigh Creek for lunch another 70km north. We ended up there after a long boring drive along the sealed road at the local tavern where most of the locals were watching the races on TV. We ordered a chicken schnitzel each which was okay but disappointing after not being able to dine at the Prairie Hotel.

Leigh Creek is a large town compared to all the others we had seen. Leigh Creek is a coal-mining town with a population of around 500. The town was moved a few years ago & now it’s very modern compared to all the other Flinders Ranges towns we had seen.

After lunch we decided to visit Copley which was just a few kms away. Copley is supposed to have a fabulous restaurant & was originally Leigh Creek. After a quick look around we have now decided to head back home.

Just outside Copley hubby was adjusting his cruise control when all of a sudden we see this car on the other side of the road flashing its lights in the far distance. I made a statement it may be a road train so we better pull over.

Oh no... It was a Police Car in a 4WD & evidently she could see we were speeding from her radar which is bull as at that exact moment hubby was adjusting his control. We were fined $300 for doing 115 in a 110 zone.

We are definitely fighting this one not to mention we were the only car on the road!! The Policewoman also breath tested hubby...Mm definitely followed from the only pub in the outback town!

After our little encounter with the law we headed off again. This time we drove home via the Parachilna Gorge & Brachina Gorge which was a wonderful route to take home as the scenery was again drop dead gorgeous.

We arrived back at our cabin around 5pm. Feeling totally exhausted I still need to do some exercise so I had a little walk around our cabin & saw a bunch of Kangaroo’s feeding quietly on some grasses.

In the evening we again had dinner at the Woolshed which was fully packed luckily we had booked ourselves into dinner on our arrival. The food was again good especially the steak.

Day 4 –

Today we are hanging around the cabin & doing some of the shorter walks within the National Park. Firstly, we head to Pugilist Hill Lookout which has wonderful views of Rawnsley Bluff & the Chace Range. The road up the hill is only for 4WD as it’s a very steep climb on a dusty rocky road.

We then move onwards to Wilpena Pound Resort where the tourist information centre is & also another place for all sorts of accommodation. I’m glad we opted for Rawnsley Park as it’s heaps nicer although it did have a swimming pool.

We decide to do the Hills Homestead Walk which follows the Wilpena Creek .The superb river red gums looked stunning against the Pound walls in the distance. The walk was lovely learning about the hardship of the Hills family the first pioneer family to live in the homestead. The walk is easy & takes approx 2hours.

There are so many walks one can do it’s really endless from easy to hard. The most famous walk is the famous Heysen Trail which stretches from Cape Jervis to Parachilna.

Now; that would be some walk!!

Home after a long day & happy to sit out on the verandah & sip a few glasses of Sth Australian wine. Today we order a pizza takeaway from the Woolshed to have in our cozy cabin. Again; it’s a full moon so no stars but its still very serene & beautiful.

Day 5 –

Heading back to Adelaide via Port Augusta. Today we are doing the Moralana Scenic drive & crossing over to the main road which will lead us to Quon & finally onto Port Augusta. The drive was okay but we are already missing the dirt roads.

We arrive in PA after a short drive compared to what we have been doing & immediately I really don’t like the place. However; hubby talks me into staying as we have already book a hotel.

We take a walk around the town which is very average IMO & then decide to head to the local pub for a drink & dinner which ended up being pretty good. We also had luck on the pokies winning $300 which will probably pay for the speeding fine!!

Day 6 –

We woke early & head off to Adelaide via the coast visiting Port Pirie, Port Germein & Wallaroo. We really liked the town of Port Germein a “little gem” which also houses the largest jetty in Australia.

There was a wonderful pub for sale overlooking the bay which would make a truly wonderful B&B or unique hotel offering luxury accommodation. The hotel was cheap too compared to other hotel prices in Australia. ($600,000).

We were also surprised by the large development in Wallaroo which has a brand new Marina, huge housing development & hotel. (Someone must be making money here!) We took a look at the ferry which comes across the Spencer Gulf from Cowell as hubby has to see a client in Cowell soon. Another Eyre Peninsula trip coming up!

Just after Wallaroo we hit a massive traffic jam which looked to be kms long – (Easter Monday traffic) which we will avoid by setting off down a dirt road & crossing over many others until we come upon another sealed road which led happily without any traffic to Adelaide.

We arrived in Adelaide around 3pm & checked into the Hilton Hotel to find we had been given another upgrade to a suite which was fabulous. We had diner in Chinatown & that’s the end of a wonderful trip to the Flinder’s Ranges. I highly recommend it for everyone!!

A big thank you to Yachtgal who recommended Rawnsley Station & the Eco Villa & to Tet for his valuable knowledge of the region. All greatly appreciated.

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1. Re: Trip Report - Flinders Ranges. -( long..)

Inspiring reading! Makes me even more determined to see this part of the country.

Sorry to hear about your unfortunate encounter with the law - wonder if travel insurance would cough up for it ;-)

I would have loved to hear a report of the Prarie Hotel. We gave some young friends a weekend there as a wedding present and it sounds so amazing. One day.....

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2. Re: Trip Report - Flinders Ranges. -( long..)

Eva what did you want to know about the Prairie? Have stayed there a few times and eaten there heaps.

Find it interesting that someone who has visited the region once several years ago is considered an "expert" by the OP when others have been there many many times (Eg moi SIX times in the last 12 months!!) and have written about it often on this forum. Also wrote that I stayed at Rawnsley Park (for a week) last August!

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3. Re: Trip Report - Flinders Ranges. -( long..)

Hi nozzie,

We spent a small fortune on a 2 night dinner/accommodation package as a wedding gift. My dealings with the proprietor putting it together were exceptional - she was so helpful, and the website made me green with envy so onto the 'bucket list' it went. I guess I just want to know if it's worth it and if it's as great an experience as it claims to be?

We are hoping to get to the Flinders ranges later in the year - I've heard spring, when the wildflowers are out, is best?

Would love to hear from an expert.

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4. Re: Trip Report - Flinders Ranges. -( long..)

Nozzie is definitely that,

I would think of Flinders as her backyard....

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5. Re: Trip Report - Flinders Ranges. -( long..)

Eva I HAVE walked the 1200km Heysen Trail - of which about half goes through the Flinders.

I've walked over the flinders , flown over it, camped in it , climbed its highest peak. 4wd driven it from north to south and east to west from the time I was 15years old. I am now what is sadly called a senior citizen.

As I said last year and the two years before we stayed up there 6 times for a week at a time each time and each time in different places ( while we were walking).

We love the prairie hotel. But it is quirky and it is expensive. The rooms are interesting but not amazing. Not 5* IMO. Rawnsley Park is better and I would stay there in preference and just do lunch at Prairie. Though last year we had lunch at Blinman Hotel and that was pretty nice too. Main reason was though that we knew Prairie woudl be frantic as we were with a group of around 100 walkers.

Spring/late winter is the best time in the flinders - but its best to check if they have had rain. Some dry years can also be pretty bleak up there.

Thouroughly recommend that you go as far north as Arkaroola if you can and also that you do a flight over Lake Eyre and also Wilpena Pound if you can. I know that you are a walker - so ask me about some of the walks if you want too.

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6. Re: Trip Report - Flinders Ranges. -( long..)

And I thought I had achieved something special doing the coast to coast - a mere 330 km!!!

The Heysen Trail is also on my bucket list - but being in possession of a seniors card myself I doubt I'll manage it all before the knees give out completely.

Lake Eyre is the main reason we want to do the trip this year. Who knows when el Nino will reappear?

When it comes time to start planning I'll certainly be picking your brains, if that's OK?

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7. Re: Trip Report - Flinders Ranges. -( long..)

<<When it comes time to start planning I'll certainly be picking your brains, if that's OK?>>

Sure!!

Well the HT did take us 6 years since you can only walk it in the winter months.

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8. Re: Trip Report - Flinders Ranges. -( long..)

Great read Em, it's been a long time since I was in PA. We left PA when I was about 10 I think, so my memories are vague to say the least, I do remember my mum whinging about the dust in the house.

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9. Re: Trip Report - Flinders Ranges. -( long..)

Nozzie; when I asked for info on the Flinders you were O/ Seas... . .. I also value Tet & Yachtgal opinions.

Eva; we dearly wanted to take a flight over Lake Eyre from Parachilna but its incredibly expensive & its also a hassle regarding getting your itinerary together.

If you really want to fly over Lake Eyre - I also suggest staying at the Prairie Hotel as they organize everything. I actually spoke to them numerous times trying to get it together but at the end due to hubby having business to do on the day it was just too hard.

TA is about... sharing your knowledge about travel.

Thanks RobT ...

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10. Re: Trip Report - Flinders Ranges. -( long..)

Excellent TR EM. Enjoyed reading and Flinders Ranges are wonderful indeed. Makes me want to go back again. Tough speeding ticket doing 115 instead 110 High rates for speeding tickets in my country also but not so much doing 10 kms over the speedlimit.

Tet