The Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park is one of the most popular national parks in South Australia. We love the jagged and rugged landscape and seclusion of this national park. There are many different activities and opportunities to explore and enjoy the impressive landscape. Let yourself be captivated by the beauty of the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park.
The national park covers an area of 940 km² and is located in the Flinders Ranges which extends about 400 kilometers from the coast of South Australia into the north. The park is known for several gorges and the circular Wilpena Pound, which reminds of a natural amphitheater. The St. Mary Peak, 1’189 m above sea level, is the highest point of the park and the whole Flinders Ranges.
Wilpena Pound is the center of the national park. There is a resort, an information center, a shop, fuel and a huge campsite, which is not praised by everyone.
Most of the visitors come from a southern direction and Wilpena Pound is their main interest. We come from the north and before we do some hiking in Wilpena Pound, we explore the Parachillna and Brachina gorges in the northern part of the park.
The landscape in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park is rugged and the weather can be very harsh. We have witnessed this during our two visits to this park. We experienced a storm with strong wind gusts, extreme heat and freezing cold wind and rain. When you visit the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, you have to be prepared for everything. On the other hand you will be rewarded with wonderful nature and diverse wildlife.
Because the Australian winter was very cold and rainy and the spring has been very late this year, it’s very green and the wildflowers are still blooming. On the way from the west coast through the Outback to the Red Center, we have seen the landscape covered in wildflowers. During our last visit to the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park the landscape was very dry but this time there are whole fields of wildflowers and all the bushes and trees are full of green leafs.
Things to do in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park
In order to experience the whole beauty of the park, you need more than one day and it is best to plan to stay for a few days. There are many different activities waiting for you. You can choose from a whole range of walks, you can drive along scenic routes, do some 4WD driving, if you have the right vehicle, you can immerse yourself in the history of the region and its inhabitants or just relax, sit back, camp in the park and observe the animals around you.
It is best to drop into the Visitor Information Center at Wilpena Pound first, where you get detailed information and brochures on the different activities. You can pay the park entrance fee and book your campsite at the Wilpena Pound Resort or one of the bush camps in the park.
We came from the north and first explored Brachina and Bunyeroo Gorge on our way to Wilpena Pound. The scenic drive is spectacular and the scenery is very impressive. On the way you can stop and enjoy the landscapes at different lookouts. The Bunyeroo Valley, Razorback and the Stokes Hill lookouts offer amazing views. During our visit to the Flinders Ranges National Park, we also hiked a lot. We can highly recommend the hard hike up to the Tanderra Saddle or right up to the St. Mary Peak. The hike to Hill’s Homestead and the Wangarra lookout and the rock paintings at Arkaroo Rock are an absolute must too.
Hiking in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park
There are 18 different walks in the national park, categorized into easy, medium and hard. In the Visitor Information Center you will get a map with the walks. Below you will find a brief description of the walks which we particularly liked.
Hills Homestead walk
The walk to Hills Homestead and back is an easy 6.6 km return and follows the Wilpena creek into the Wilpena Pound. At Hills Homestead you can see the restored home of the family that lived here and a few remains of farm equipment. You need to read the info boards, they are very interesting and you can learn about the extremely harsh conditions experienced by the farmers. For the walk you should plan about 2 hours. You can also combine this walk with the hike to St. Mary Peak if you take the inner route.
Wangara Lookout walk
When you are at Hills Homestead, you can continue up to the Wangara lookout. It’s only 1.2 km return from Hills Homestead and you will get a first insight into the Wilpena Pound.
Tandera Saddle and St. Mary Peak walk
The hike to St. Mary Peak, the highest peak in the Flinders Ranges, is very strenuous and steep. There are two different routes, which can be combined to a round trip. We recommend climbing the outer route and walking back along the inner route through Wilpena Pound. The entire hike combining the two routes is about 18 km long and you should calculate about 6 to 8 hours. From the beginning of December to the end of February this hike is closed.
Mt. Ohlssen Bagge walk
The hike to the Mount Ohlssen Bagge is not quite as exhausting but also offers a very nice view of the Wilpena Pound. The hike is 6.5 km and you should plan about 4 hours. This hike is also closed from the beginning of December to the end of February.
Arkaroo Rock walk
The Arkaroo Rock is an important cultural site for the traditional owners of this area. You can admire rock paintings painted with ochre and charcoal. The starting point for this hike is not at Wilpena Pound but about 10 km south along the access road towards Hawker.
Explore the park with your own vehicle
Brachina Gorge Geological Trail
The 20 km long Brachina Gorge Geological Trail runs through the Brachina Gorge and offers an insight into the geological history of the region. Along the drive, there are information boards with explanations of the rock layers and the geological features.
Bunyeroo-Brachina-Aroona Scenic Drive
This 120 km long scenic drive combines the most beautiful places of the park and offers a comprehensive insight into the landscape. You will need a whole day for the route, depending on how often you stop and how many hikes you do along the way.
Information about the Flinders Ranges National Park
- Location: Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park is located 465 km South of Adelaide and you will need about 5 hours by car.
- Entrance fee: AUD 10 (USD 7.50)
- Opening hours: The Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park is open all year round. Some of the hikes are closed during the hot summer months from December to February.
- Accommodation: Wilpena Pound Resort has campsites, rental tents or rooms. There are also 10 different bush camps throughout the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, which you can book