The Flinders Ranges is the largest mountain range in South Australia, with 430km of hills and mountains stretching mostly north to south, from Port Pirie to Lake Callabonna. This vast area is packed with brilliant places to explore, with places important to the Adnyamathanha people and places of breathtaking natural beauty. You could write an entire guidebook packed with things to do in the Flinders Ranges, but who’s got time for that? Here’s EscapeGoat Adventures guide to the 5 best things to do in Flinders Ranges!
Take an Epic Cycling Trip in the Flinders Ranges
This is the first activity on our list because we’re the no.1 mountain bike tour and hire specialists in Adelaide and our biggest and best trip is our 6-day Flinders Ranges Mountain Bike Tour. This is a small-group tour with a maximum of ten people. The minimum group size is four, but this trip always proves popular, both with locals and people from other parts of Australia and New Zealand who know Flinders Ranges is one of the best places to cycle in Australia. The views are varied, the terrain diverse and interesting, and the best part is that it’s so out of the way that you could easily not see anyone outside of your tour group for the entire trip, making it the perfect escape into nature for anyone who needs to get away.
To do this cycle, you’ll need to be reasonably experienced, capable of cycling 4–5 hours covering 60km each day. There are some beautifully smooth stretches, but there are also long stretches of rough and even challenging terrain. If you don’t have your own bike, or it’s too difficult to transport it, our Adelaide MTB Hike Service has got you covered. This is a challenging cycle, but it’s not a hardcore expedition, so any cyclist with a reasonable level of fitness should be able.
Wilpena Pound is often described as a natural amphitheatre of mountains because it looks like an ancient Greek amphitheatre but at a truly grand scale. Many people think it looks like the crater left by a meteor crashing into the earth, but its formation was considerably slower and less dramatic as the softer internal rock where these two mountain ranges met eroded away more quickly, leaving the harder outer cliffs rising above. The Adnyamathanha call it Ikara, which means meeting place, and it’s the most popular place in Flinders Ranges, so you might just meet a few fellow explorers here.
Wilpena Pound is one of the most incredible natural rock features in the world and it’s well worth visiting Flinders Ranges just to see it and nothing else. You access Wilpena Pound from a sealed-off road which is perfect for cycling. In fact, it features on our epic cycling adventure.
Mount Ohlssen Bagge Hike
Whilst this is technically part of the Wilpena Pound, this is our top tip for the best short(ish) hike to get a really awesome view of the pound. It’s a tough, steep 2.8km scramble from the Wilpena Visitor Centre to the summit of Mount Ohlssen Bagge, and the views are breathtaking, looking both out from the Pound to the surrounding countryside, and into the Pound itself. The climb is definitely not for the faint-hearted, but it’s a fantastic climb.
Lovers of wildlife will want to visit Bunyeroo Gorge, a gorge in Flinders Ranges that is packed with rough, jagged rock formations, gum trees, and plenty of local wildlife. A hike is the best speed to travel through this area as it allows you to watch out for the various animals found here, including the rare yellow-footed rock-wallaby.
The Bunyeroo Gorge Hiking Trail is a 7.5 return journey, which takes approximately three and a half hours to complete. There are a few tricky parts that make it a moderate challenge, but you can drive right to it, which makes it easily accessible for people driving there from Adelaide. If you’re going on a multi-day hike, you might also like to walk to Arkaroo Rock, which is 17km south of Wilpena Pound. The drive into the gorge itself down the Razorback is one of the most stunning in the state, and one of the most recognisable photos of the Flinders you will see!
Melrose and Mount Remarkable – the Gateway to the Flinders Ranges
How could we talk about the Flinders Ranges, without mentioning Melrose?! Melrose is much further south than Wilpena, and is often thought of as the gateway to the Flinders. Just 300km from Adelaide, it’s an easy 3-hour drive. Melrose itself is a lovely small town nestled in the foothills of Mount Remarkable, with two excellent pubs, a couple of cafes, and a wonderful bike shop, Over The Edge. It’s a brilliant spot for a quick break, or as a stop-off on the way to the Northern Flinders Ranges. There are awesome hikes to be done in Mount Remarkable National Park (Alligator Gorge is a favourite), but it just so happens that Melrose also has some of the best mountain biking in the state! A tidy little network of 30km or so of tricky singletrack leads out directly from the town centre, and there are plans for lots more to come, including some epic rides around Mount Remarkable itself.
Then, when you add in the excellent local wines (the local Bartagunyah Port is our favourite!), it’s a perfect spot to visit. One of the best times is over the June long-weekend, when the annual Fat Tyre Festival literally takes over the entire main street, with bike riding events and family events happening all weekend. We never miss it!
That’s all we have time for with this guide. We hope we’re inspired a few readers to visit the Flinders Ranges in the near future, even if you don’t decide to explore this incredible wilderness on one of our bike tours. If cycling is exactly what you’re looking for, however, you might also like to check out our range of day cycling tours from Adelaide or our multi-day cycling trips in South Australia. And if you have any questions for us, please feel free to get in touch.