The Australian outback offers travellers such beautiful landscapes, interesting animals and many hikes to explore the areas. South Australia is not an area of Australia I have spent a lot of time in and when a friend was getting married in the Adelaide Hills, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to explore the Flinders Ranges and do some hiking. Unfortunately, we only had a couple of days to explore the area, so we focused on Wilpena Pound. And what a beautiful part of Australia it is! I am already planning a return trip.
Wilpena Pound is a 6-8 hour drive from Adelaide, depending on the route you take. It is located in the Flinders Ranges – the gateway to the outback of South Australia. We drove via the Adelaide Hills on the way and via Port Augusta on the way back. I recommend driving alternative routes so you get to see the diversity in the landscapes. The Adelaide Hills showcase the gorgeous vineyards (be sure to stop off for a couple of wine tastings) and via Port Augusta you can see the rich farmlands and endless straight roads. The drive may be long, however the change in landscape as you transition from farmlands to desert is truly beautiful. Lush paddocks are swapped for burnt orange dirt and you pass through small towns and communities which dot the highway, rich in history and character.
What you can expect from Wilpena Pound is an abundance of wild animals – when we turned off to Wilpena Pound we were greeted by a mob of wild emus, kangaroos hopping about and hawks circling the sky. It was a wonderful welcoming to the area and made for a great to start to the next couple of days. Camping, hiking, animal spotting and exploring are the activities to keep you busy in Wilpena Pound. And making new friends will be unavoidable, as everyone is so friendly. We camped next to a family of three, sharing stories and food and of course, Adelaide wine! We found South Australians are a very relaxed bunch and the type of traveller that makes it to Wilpena Pound are overall, very friendly.
In terms of accommodation options, it’s camping (tent or camper van) at Wilpena Pound or splash out and stay in the Wilpena Pound Resort. There are many other camping spots in the area and either stay in the one spot and do day trips from there, or plan out your itinerary by choosing to stay in multiple camp spots. All of the hiking around Wilpena Pound starts from the camp grounds, which is extremely convenient. We chose the Ohlssen Bagge hike, a four hour return moderate to hard hike, offering views of Wilpena Pound. The hike was easy for us, however it really depends on your experience. The hike to the top starts of with a steady incline and the last 30 minutes is quite steep. We saw blooming wildflowers, goats and a Shingleback Lizard along the way and were rewarded with the beautiful views at the top. It was very windy at the top, so be sure to pack a windbreaker and a warm hat. Of course, with any hike, take enough water and snacks to keep you hydrated and energised.
In addition to seeing Wilpena Pound on foot, we treated ourselves to a scenic flight to experience the vastness of the pound and the Flinders Ranges. It was well worth it and highly recommended. We did a 20 minute flight, which circled the pound, and we viewed the Elder Range, the Heysen Range and St. Mary Peak and much more. Our pilot was fantastic and had great local knowledge of the area. We requested the latest flight possible to enjoy the golden sunlight over the pound.
- It’s a 6-8 hour drive from Adelaide, South Australia
- For accommodation, it’s Wilpena Pound Resort – either camping or in the resort accommodation
- Buy your food prior to arrival. There is a small grocery store, however it is expensive
- National Park Entry fees apply to visit and stay in Wilpena Pound – visit the National Parks South Australia website for details
- Please remember to follow the Leave No Trace principles and do not feed the animals