March 17, 2023
5 mins Read
The Flinders Ranges are a wonder of vertical geography cracked open into rust-red gorges, escarpments and creek beds a staggering half a billion years in the making.
They provide some of our continent’s most spectacular outback landscapes, and yet seeing them doesn’t require a major expedition: an easy five-hour drive from Adelaide on sealed road gets you there.
The Flinders Ranges aren’t just about rocks, however, spectacular though they might be. Like Uluru and Kata Tjuta in the Red Centre, they also provide a significant cultural experience in a place that has been home to the Adnyamathanha people for tens of thousands of years.
Interact with Aboriginal (Yura) guides and you get another perspective on this timeless land, on a journey that starts back at creation and is traced through rock art, ancient engravings and stories.
Wilpena Pound Resort is the perfect base to explore both the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park’s glorious geology and age-old history.
It not only sits at the base of Wilpena Pound, the region’s greatest natural wonder, but is also at the heart of the Indigenous experience that allows visitors to truly connect to country.
Each evening a Welcome to Country is offered in the traditional Yura Ngawarla language. A Yura guide explains the background of the Adnyamathanha flag and some of the traditional stories of the Yura Muda dreaming.
It’s easy to see why this land is so special to the Adnyamathanha people. Wilpena Pound is a huge oval of quartzite cliffs, eight kilometres wide and seventeen long, and looks as if it might have been caused by a meteor impact.
In fact, water erosion weathered away this great depression, which was once an ancient seabed, and whose flat bottom now features kangaroo-nibbled grass and massive gum trees. Local Adnyamathanha stories talk to the spiritual snakes pushing up the walls of the pound during the time of creation.
To see the immensity of this giant ring of cliffs to best effect, take a scenic flight over Wilpena Pound. Then get out and hike (or mountain bike) in this wonder of nature.
Be sure to check with Yura guides before climbing, however – Wilpena Pound is central to the Adnyamathanha creation story and therefore as sacred as Uluru – but all visitors can find magnificent panoramas on hikes to Bridal Gap or Wangara Lookout.
Wilpena Pound was once used by early European pastoralists and is scattered with colonial-era ruins – such as Hills Homestead where, on a guided tour, you can learn about the challenges of settler history – but also about the landscapes and biodiversity from the perspective of the Adnyamathanha people.
Another way to appreciate Wilpena Pound is from outside the mighty enclosure. Pugilist Hill Lookout is a hidden gem of the Flinders Ranges, down an unsigned dirt road off Flinders Ranges Way.
It’s the perfect vantage point to see the whole of Wilpena Pound rearing upwards. Because you’re facing west, this is an especially wonderful place to be at sunset.
Wilpena Pound Resort is the only accommodation at the base of the Pound making it a great place to stay. It has been undergoing a multi-million-dollar upgrade to its accommodation, restaurant and visitor information precinct.
You can choose from resort rooms for couples, families or groups, air-conditioned glamping tents, or the caravan park and campground, which has both powered and unpowered sites.
Facilities include a visitor information centre, grocery store, and restaurant and bar serving modern Australian cuisine that highlights native ingredients such as kangaroo, bush tomatoes, salt bush and quandong.
What really sets Wilpena Pound Resort apart is its range of cultural tours, all led by Yura guides, so that visitors get not just a first-hand experience of the spectacular landscapes, but delve into the region’s cultural heritage and spiritual significance too.
A walk to Arkaroo Adnya takes you back into ancient times. The images of emus and snakes in red ochre that splatter the rocks tell the story of creation. You can even accompany an Adnyamathanha guide along paths you can’t enter with anyone else, and into Yura Mulka (Sacred Canyon), which is carved with spectacular petroglyphs.
Visitors can create personalised tours too, and learn about hunting and food preparation, traditional painting with an Adnyamathanha artist, or the Flinders Ranges’ elusive and endangered yellow-footed rock wallabies.
You can also find out about Adnyamathanha history, language, social customs, reconciliation and the issues facing Indigenous people into the future.
Sightseeing isn’t over even after dark, since the Flinders Ranges are an excellent place to stargaze, and the stars create their own twinkling landscape. Look up, and be amazed: the heavens are as dazzling as the rust-red outback beneath.
Discover the magic, live the adventure, hear stories from the traditional owners and take in all this ancient landscape has to offer.
Discover the magic of Wilpena Pound with a glamping experience in the cultural heartland of the Flinders Ranges.
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