When it comes to 4WDing and Camping, there’s some pretty iconic regions in Australia. The Kimberley, Cape York, Victorian High Country and Flinders Ranges are all up there with the most well-known, and over the last 3 weeks we’ve been weaving our way through the Flinders Ranges.
After doing a small chunk of the Eyre Peninsula (we’ll be back!) we headed to Port Augusta and did a big shop, before heading to a small free camp at Pichi Richi, and then onto Mern Merna Station.
I was a little apprehensive, quietly wondering whether I’d actually like the region or not, and whether committing to 3 weeks exploring the region was going to be a good idea, and my questions were answered fairly quickly.
The scenery coming into the Flinders Ranges was like nothing I expected, and whilst it did change to the more outback scenery around Mern Merna (that I was expecting), the rest of the Flinders blew me away.
To be fair, we absolutely picked a year and time to visit when it was probably at its best in terms of greenness, but it was nothing short of spectacular.
We had an amazing 3 week stay in the Flinders, and all of my apprehension was burnt away, with a strong love for the area developing; it’s a magic part of the world. Time and time again I visited place after place, wondering what it would be like and left each time feeling like it was completely worth the effort, cost and drive in, and that’s not always the case!
Where are the Flinders Ranges?
This amazing part of South Australia starts roughly 200km north of Adelaide, and runs about 430km down towards Port Pirie. You can see them in the distance from a huge number of places in South Australia, and they really are quite the icon.
How big are the Flinders Ranges?
Asides from the dimensions given above, the actual square kilometres of the Flinders Ranges is up around 37,000, which is nothing short of insane. People often refer to it in sections, with the Northern Flinders Ranges, and the Southern Flinders Ranges.
Flinders Ranges Camping
We were really impressed at the number of places in the Flinders Ranges that you can camp at. Many required advanced booking, but there were plenty of places that you could just arrive on the day and get a spot. A lot of the Flinders Ranges are private properties, with a heap of National Park and thus a lot of variety in where you camp.
We stayed at the below places, and barely scratched the surface!
This was the most outback style that we visited in the Flinders Ranges, and we had a great time exploring the property and doing the Burnette 4WD track.
Next up was a pretty spectacular free camp, where we enjoyed an amazing night before moving on. We saw a heap of Emu’s, goats and other wildlife, and jagged a great camp site.
In terms of picturesque camping, we had an amazing bush camp at Moolooloo Station, and thoroughly enjoyed a drive and hike out to Ferguson Gorge.
I wasn’t expecting much at Arkaroola because of its huge reputation, but it deserves every bit of it. The camping is good, the 4WDing is even better and the views are nothing short of stunning.
Another free camp in the Flinders Ranges is Chambers Gorge, and we spent a nice night here in the shade, soaking up the magic views.
The bush camping at Willow Springs is absolutely amazing, and we got some incredible weather that made the creeks run, which was a lot of fun. We rated this as the most pristine camping place we’ve ever been to.
After struggling to find a place to stay, we spent a couple of nights at Rawnsley Park Station and really enjoyed it. The bush camping is much nicer than the caravan park, and its a great place.
By pure coincidence we ended up doing a few nights at Argadells, and were so awestruck by the sheer beauty and number of great 4WD tracks on the property. This, and Arkaroola were our favourite two locations by a country mile.
When is the best time to visit the Flinders Ranges?
In general, the best time to visit the Flinders Ranges is between April and November, when its cooler, and things are greener. Our visit was through the majority of October and we jagged one of the best times ever with a huge amount of rainfall in the preceding months. This meant that everything was bright green, looked stunning and was truly incredible.
Flinders Ranges 4WD tracks
We did more 4WD tracks in 3 weeks in the Flinders Ranges than I’ve done in a long time, and thoroughly enjoyed them all. Most stations have several 4WD tracks available, and whilst you pay for a lot of them, they are unique and well worth doing.
I’m conscious of the fact that we’ve probably only just scratched the surface, and have a more comprehensive post covering the Flinders Ranges 4WD tracks, but know that you won’t be left wanting more!
Should you start from the bottom or the top?
Sarah made an interesting observation after a couple of weeks in the Flinders, and that was if we’d started at Arkaroola, we might not have enjoyed the trip as much. We actually jagged it pretty well, with Mern Merna station setting the standard, and every destination getting better and better all the way to Arkaroola, and then we started to wind our way back down again, covering a heap of places that we missed on the way up.
We loved Mern Merna, but Parachilna Gorge was special, Moolooloo was awesome, Arkaroola was out of this world awesome and I have to agree with Sarah’s conclusion. Of course, if you are coming from the north, then do what you can, but I reckon starting from the south might be the way to go.
Should you visit the Flinders Ranges?
As I said earlier, I was unsure about this area, but it didn’t take long for that thought to completely fade away. The Flinders Ranges will forever be a special area etched into my brain, and I’d rate it one of the best places we’ve been to in Australia.
We spent nearly 3 weeks exploring a huge number of camp sites, 4WD tracks, attractions and stunning regions and there really wasn’t much that we’d complain about. It’s an amazing adventure for someone doing the lap, or anyone who just wants a new area to explore.
We did spend more money than we’d normally do on camping fees, fuel and 4WD tracks, but don’t regret a single cent spent. The Flinders Ranges are absolutely magic, and you should 100% visit them.