Tour Description

Dean’s Flinders Special

Seven Days: 23rd – 29th August 2020

Twin Share: $2595 per person. Sole Use: $2995 per person.

Included in the tour:
  • Home pick-ups & set downs (most metro areas – please contact us for details)
  • Picnic-style morning teas & all meals as per the itinerary
  • All accommodation & admissions to all attractions
  • Experienced & informative tour driver/guide.

 

Ikara – Flinders Ranges is one of the oldest landscapes on Earth; a part of South Australia that was shaped by the ancient serpents and giants of the Aboriginal Dreaming. Renowned for its natural, cultural and geological significance, it is one of Deans favourite locations in South Australia. As we tour through the ranges of the southern and central Flinders, to the vast outback at start of the Oodnadatta Track in Maree, you will discover the diversity and astounding beauty of this stunning region. Join Dean as he shares fascinating stories, historical facts, and introduces you to the characters who are lucky enough to call the Flinders home.

 

Day One – SUNDAY 23 AUGUST 2020

(includes light lunch and two course dinner)

We depart this morning after home pick ups (limited areas*), leaving the suburbs of Adelaide behind. We stop for our morning tea in Port Wakefield.

From here we will continue north through rural towns such as Snowtown and Crystal Brook, as we continue towards the southern Flinders Ranges. Just past Laura we come to Stone Hut where we will stop at the historic Bakery for lunch.

A short drive from Stone Hut is the small, pretty town of Wirrabara, which takes its name from the Aboriginal term meaning ‘forest with running water’. In October 2018, the town also became home to a stunning silo artwork painted by Australian artist Sam Bates, more commonly known as Smug.

We resume our travels, passing through Melrose, the oldest town in the Flinders Ranges, situated in the shadow of Mount Remarkable, and onto Wilmington. Here, we detour west onto Horrocks Pass to take a scenic drive through the ranges. En-route, we will journey up to Hancocks Lookout to admire the sweeping views of the Spencer Gulf, Mount Laura, the Middleback and Dutchmans Stern Ranges. It is well worth the visit.

Late afternoon, we continue through Quorn to Hawker, in the central Flinders Ranges, where we will be staying for the next three nights with some of our favourite hosts at the Outback Chapmanton Motor Inn (Ph: 08 8648 4100).

Dean’s notes: There are a couple of highlights for me on our travels today. I rate Stone Hut Bakery as having the best pies in Australia and you know how I love bakeries! Then stopping at Hancocks Lookout in the afternoon is also a favourite, as it offers commanding views of the northern Spencer Gulf.

Day Two – MONDAY 24 AUGUST 2020

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

This morning we will take some time to look around Hawker and visit the Jeff Morgan Gallery. An internationally acclaimed artist, Jeff has lived his entire life in the Flinders region and is inspired by the landscapes that surround him. His gallery features the Wilpena Panorama, a 30 metre, 360 degree painting of the magnificent landscape as seen from St Mary’s Peak, the highest point of the Wilpena Pound.

More recently, Jeff has also been working on the Arkaroola Water Hole Panorama, another circular painting. We have time to soak up the beauty of these and other paintings, as we listen to special sound effects of birds of the area.

From here we travel further into the Flinders, taking in the vibrant, stunning landscapes that surround us. We enter Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park and make our way towards Stokes Hill. This lookout provides 360° panoramic views of this vast ancient landscape and is the perfect spot to start our discovery of these magnificent ranges.

We will make our way to the Visitors Centre, situated near Wilpena Pound. This is a natural amphitheatre of awesome proportions, with a circumference of 35 kilometres, it’s length stretching 11 kilometres and a width of nearly 5 kilometres. This is truly an inspiring landscape and this afternoon we can take the opportunity to catch the shuttle bus into the Pound, with plenty of time to explore and soak in the ambience of this amazing place.

For those wishing to see Wilpena from a different perspective, this is also a good opportunity to take a 20 minute scenic flight (at passengers own expense). This is a spectacular way to view the Pound and gives you a perspective of the enormity of this natural landmark.

In the afternoon, we will return to Hawker with some time to freshen up. Before dinner we will head to Jarvis Hill Lookout just a short drive from our accommodation. Here we will enjoy the spectacular changing colours of the sunset over the Flinders Ranges.

Following this memorable experience, we will return to the motel for dinner.

Dean’s notes: I always like to stop at Jeff Morgan’s gallery and admire his talent for capturing the beauty of the Flinders on canvas. It’s the perfect way to whet our appetite for the days of touring that will follow, when we experience these inspirational landscapes for ourselves. And there is nothing quite like a sunset in the Flinders! 

 Day Three – TUESDAY 25 AUGUST 2020

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

Today we return to Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park to explore more of this wonderful landscape. We will journey around the park viewing the dramatic gorges and spectacular peaks that are the real highlights of this beautiful part of Australia.

We will visit two of the three largest gorges today depending on time and accessibility. Brachina Gorge was once used as a pass for bullock teams but is now an important refuge for the variety of wildlife that live in the area, including the vulnerable Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby.  It also has a fascinating geological history that dates back 130 million years.

Bunyeroo Gorge is one of the main gorges which runs through the Heysen Range towards Lake Torrens and driving through the gorge provides spectacular views south towards the Pound Range.

We return to the Resort in the early afternoon where we have some free time to go walking, relax and enjoy the surroundings.

Dean’s notes: A highlight for me today is our visit to Brachina Gorge—not only is the scenery captivating, but so is the story of its geology. Lunch today will be scrumptious,  with a lovely home-cooked meal and great country hospitality.

Day Four – WEDNESDAY 26 AUGUST 2020

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

This morning we set off to continue our journey north. Rather than take the highway, we’ll take the scenic route, through the National Park (weather permitting).

We make our way to Blinman. This town began with the discovery of copper in the 1850’s, followed by the opening of a mine in 1862. Today, Blinman has a small population of just 22, but offers the surrounding pastoral community some important services. We will take the opportunity to enjoy our morning tea here.

Our journey takes us into the spectacular Parachilna Gorge. As we wind through the rocky surrounds, you will notice the Parachilna Creek that has cut its way through the landscape. While there may not be water in the creek, its path is obvious from the majestic river red gums that line the banks at the bottom of the gorge.

The original township of Parachilna was surveyed in 1863 about 10km away from its present location. It was when the Great Northern Railway was built that the settlement moved. There are a few buildings that remain in the township today, however the most famous is the Prairie Hotel. The hotel’s unique menu and location make it well known with travellers throughout Australia, and it wouldn’t be right to journey through this area without stopping to visit!

Back on the Outback Highway, we’ll continue our journey to Leigh Creek. Just out of the town, we’ll detour to Aroona Dam, a huge 5,000 megalitre dam that was built across Scott Creek to provide water to the nearby town. A huge community effort has brought life back into what was a badly degraded area, as it became home to feral goats, rabbits and foxes.

Now, in the place of those feral pests there is a reintroduced colony of the shy and timid Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby, as well as a variety of other animals, birds and native plant species. The wallabies, which became extinct in the area in 1980, were bred at the open range zoo at Monarto and were reintroduced to Aroona in 1996.

We travel the short distance into town where we check into the Leigh Creek Resort (Ph: 08 8675 2025). Established as a company town, Leigh Creek provided housing and services for the people who worked at the nearby coal mine. With the closure of the mine in 2015, the population is now less than 250 people.

Dean’s notes: As we head to Blinman you will enjoy more of the stunning Flinders views that we have come to expect on this tour, including the wonderful Wall of China. Blinman is an historical mining town, boasting a number of beautiful colonial stone buildings and the drive to Leigh Creek via Parachilna Gorge is nothing short of spectacular.

Day Five – THURSDAY 27 AUGUST 2020

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

Our adventures today, will take us to the southern end of the infamous Oodnadatta Track as we continue exploring the northern Flinders.

We depart Leigh Creek and only travel a short distance before reaching the small village of Lyndhurst, a railway siding established in 1878 and situated at the southern end of the Strzelecki Track. Not far out of town, we leave the bitumen road behind and its not long before we arrive at our first stop, the Lyndhurst Ochre Pits. The pits have long been used by the Aboriginal people to extract ochre used for ceremony and trade. They are still used by the local indigenous people today and the red, yellow and white colours that emerge from the pits are striking.

Travelling further north, its not long before our next stop at the ’ghost town’ of Farina.  Established in the 1880’s as a railhead, when you walk around the ruins today, it is hard to believe that in its ‘hey day’ the town had a population of 600. The copper and silver mine closed in 1927 and from the late 1940’s families started leaving the town until it was eventually abandoned in the 1980’s.

While the town itself is no longer inhabited, Farina is testament to a group of very civic minded people who are keen to preserve history. For several years, a committed group of volunteers have been meeting at the site to carry out restoration works and there is even a baker that comes to fire up the old underground wood-fired oven, making bread and pastries for visitors and travellers. Unfortunately the baker may not be there when we visit this time but there is no doubt you will be intrigued and fascinated as you walk around the ruins.

As we continue our journey towards Maree, we will visit the John McDouall Stuart Memorial. McDouall was the leader of the South Australian Great Northern Exploring Expedition who, after a couple of failed attempts, made the first successful crossing of Australia from south to north, and return, in 1862. It was his route that was later used to construct the Overland Telegraph Line in 1872 and inspired the construction of the Transcontinental Railway which later became know as The Ghan.

Maree is the southern starting point for the Oodnadatta and Birdsville Tracks. Once a major railhead, it grew from a camp that was built near Hergott Springs, to support workers on the Overland Telegraph Line in the 1870’s. The settlement became a base for the Afghan camel drivers and the town developed rapidly when the Ghan Railway reached it in the early 1880’s. We’ll stop here for lunch and the opportunity to look at the historic highlights of this outback town.

While our return journey to Leigh Creek covers the same track, there will be more to discover and a character or two to meet!

Dean’s notes: Today we venture further north to some of South Australia’s most remote and historical towns. Their stories are diverse, with a history of rail and camel treks, plus tales of drought and ruin. Then there’s the mysterious Maree Man! 

Day Six – FRIDAY 28 AUGUST 2020

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

This morning we depart Leigh Creek and follow the Outback Highway south. As we admire the spectacular scenery that surrounds us, we pass through Parachilna to Hawker, stopping along the way for morning tea.

Following lunch in Hawker, we depart once again, detouring off the main road to visit the Kanyaka ruins. This station was founded by Hugh Proby and included a 16 room homestead, one of the largest woolsheds in the state, plus various outbuildings. The ruins have survived better than neighbouring properties and restoration work has now halted the crumbling of the stone buildings which harbour a long and impressive history.

We continue to take the scenic route south, exploring Proby’s Grave at the site where he drowned trying to cross a creek on horseback after flash flooding; the Buckaringa Gorge Lookout; and the Warren Gorge Lookout with its red rock rising vertically from the tree lined creek. We re-join the main road near Quorn.

This visit, we will spend some time touring around Quorn, which was developed as an important railhead and maintains a number of historic buildings dating back to the late 19th and early 20th century.

This afternoon, we can sit back and relax as we drive south to Port Augusta for the last section of our journey today. On arrival, we will visit the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Gardens which were opened in 1996 to showcase a rare combination of arid and marine garden environments. Australia’s arid zone plant communities can be quite fragile, thriving in extreme temperatures where droughts can last for years and years. What is unique about this garden, is that its proximity to the coast means it also features a rich marine environment. We will have time to look around the gardens before a short drive to our accommodation for tonight at the Standpipe Gulf Motel (Ph: 08 8642 4033).

Dean’s notes: Today we detour off the bitumen to discover the story of Hugh Proby; one that I find intriguing and look forward to sharing with you all. We also enjoy our last views of the awesome Flinders Ranges before continuing our journey home tomorrow. 

Day Seven – SATURDAY 29 AUGUST 2020

(includes cooked breakfast and two course lunch)

This morning we will see our last glimpses of the Flinders Ranges as we depart Port Augusta and head south-east through Wilmington to Orroroo.

We will stop to have morning tea here, before joining the southern section of RM Williams Way, a road that stretches 214km starting near Hawker and heading south past Spalding. A tribute to the South Australian who was born near Jamestown in 1908, it’s a journey Reginald Murray Williams would have taken often. First between Jamestown and Nepabunna (near Copley) where he first learnt how to make the elastic-sided boots he’s now famous for, and secondly when he moved to Adelaide to start his own business.

Continuing our journey on the Way, we will pass through Jamestown before arriving at Clare. This picturesque valley is best known for its wine production and we will take a break to refresh for lunch.

This afternoon’s travels takes us through Auburn, Tarlee and Roseworthy before joining the main road which brings us through the outer northern suburbs of Adelaide. As we head for home, we are left with  wonderful memories of the remarkable ancient landscapes we have seen in the stunning Flinders  Ranges and beyond.

Dean’s notes: We don’t take the usual route on our return journey to Adelaide. Instead, we celebrate another SA icon as we travel the RM Williams Way. It is the perfect end to our tour and I hope that you are looking forward to exploring the Flinders, as much as I am!

Kind regards, 

Dean

Please note: Unsealed roads in the Flinders Ranges can be adversely affected by weather conditions. While we endeavour to follow the itinerary as closely as possible it may be necessary to find alternative routes or activities should our intended plans not be possible.