The world famous Flinders Ranges just has to be on everyone’s bucket list. We did the driving, spoke to locals, drove the tracks, spotted all the wildlife, broke up all the back seat kid fights to bring you what we think is the best of the best of the Flinders.
The Flinders region is massive. It is so daunting to look at it and wonder where to even start. I have broken it up into southern, middle and northern, because the drive from the southern flinders to the north can be several hours!
We stayed 3 nights. One night each in the south, north and middle. We found this worked really well and allowed us to see as much of the entire region as possible, with travel between accomodation doubling as exploring time!
Our Itinerary.…because we found it hard to know where to start when planning our own trip!
Flinders Ranges Itinerary – Day 1
The drive for us from Adelaide to Bendleby was about 4 hours. Pack snacks. Lots of snacks and plan a stop or 2. We stopped at Clare which was about half way, which was the ideal coffee stop. Allow plenty of time for stops and detours that you might want to explore.
Activities – Magnetic Hill – From the category of ‘Attractions that seemed like they would suck but actually were really cool’ comes Magnetic Hill. Just out of Orroroo, follow the signs to this geological marvel, where your car will actually roll up hill when left in neutral. It is worth the small detour trust me! I am pretty sure the kids liked it. Dunno. I did which is all that matters.
Accommodation – Bendleby Ranges (Southern Flinders) – A fave with the kids and adults alike. Offering lovely cabins, great camping spots, 4×4 tracks and views that have to be seen to truly appreciate, we will definitely lock this one in for our next trip.
Read more about our stay at Bendleby Ranges below
Night time here was pretty awe inspiring for us simple city folk. The night sky, silence (well apart from kids fighting) and darkness was fantastic. They provide supplies for campfires and BBQs which is a must. We packed food from home for our BBQ which saved on eating out costs too.
We can’t wait to return with a 4×4 and try out some of their famous tracks.
Flinders Ranges Itinerary – Day 2
Activities – Bendelby to Cradock short cut (Southern Flinders)
If you happen to take our advice and spend a night at the fabulous Bendleby Ranges before heading north, ask the staff about the short cut to Cradock. Google maps won’t recommend it but staff will give you a map to lead the way. An absolutely stunning half hour or so drive will not only save you time as you head north, but will give you a sample for what is to come. We saw eagles, countless emus, sheep, camels, kangaroos and goats all roaming casually just doing their thing. Well sheep weren’t casual. Usually they saw the car and lost their minds and bolted. This was one of those unplanned awesome little adventures that just makes a trip like this so fun.
We then stopped at Hawker which gives you your first real glimpse of the mountain ranges that the Flinders have to offer. It also provided coffee a playground and a spot to momentarily break up the back seat bickering.
Activities – Moralana Scenic Drive (Southern Flinders)
Just after you leave Hawker and head north to the national park, you will see a small sign for the Moralana Scenic Drive on your left. Take it! It will take you along some amazing scenery and give some great views of the southern part of the larger rock formations. You will pop out on the Outback Highway and if you are like us, you will head to lunch or dinner at the Prairie Hotel a short way up the road.
Food – Prairie Hotel (Northern Flinders)
Located about 2.5hrs from Bendleby and right in time for lunch as we headed north we stopped into Parachilna and the famous Prairie Hotel. Famous for their ‘feral’ menu including emu, kangaroo and camel, we tried the feral antipasto and feral mixed grill and everyone, including the kids, loved it!
Read more about our visit to The Prairie Hotel below
Activities – Dam (Northern Flinders) – If you head as far north as Leigh Creek like we did, Aroona Dam is a must see. Once the supply of water for the town and now-closed mine, it has now been recently opened to the public for fishing, kayaking and canoeing. It also boasts one of the best public BBQ spots I have ever seen.
Accommodation – Leigh Creek Outback Resort (Northern Flinders – Night 2) – The best part of our trip was exploring and seeing where our sense of adventure would take us. I had never been to Leigh Creek and I am so glad we did. With spacious accommodation (Separate living areas for kids and parents!!) and a lovely hotel for meals and arcade games, it was a top spot for us to explore the northern part of the Flinders from.
Read more about our stay at Leigh Creek Outback Resort below
Flinders Ranges Itinerary – Day 3
Activities – Blinman Mines Heritage Tour (Northern Flinders) – A real winner with everyone. Blinman is a small town built around a copper mine in the 1850s. The mine has long since closed, but the passionate local volunteers have developed the mine tour into a really unique and awesome experience. If you are tall like me, you will bang your head and be warned that any helmet dings will incur a 50c ‘fine’ to go towards maintenance and keeping the tour running. Cost me a fortune! If confined spaces aren’t your bag, there are some great short walking trails around the mine to give you that colonial miner experience. Lock this one in as a must do! Follow it up with a meal at the Miner’s Crib, which sell traditional cornish pasties, like the miners used to eat.
Activities – Gorge drives – We then headed south towards Wilpena and decided to hit some gorge drives. With so many tracks, trails and scenic drives, it was hard to know which ones were worth the detour. The gorge drives were probably my favourite thing to experience with the kids on this trip. Take your time and soak it all in!
– Brachina Gorge (Middle Flinders)
This drive, which we did in conjunction with the Bunyeroo Gorge drive, was one of the absolute highlights of our trip. The scenery is just awe inspiring and take your time, because we saw about 8 yellow footed rock wallabies just chilling off the road.
– Bunyeroo Gorge (Middle Flinders) I didn’t think it could get much better after the Brachina Gorge, but Bunyeroo was a once in a lifetime drive. Winding up the ridges near Wilpena, the views from some of the lookouts seemed to stretch forever. Don’t miss this one whatever you do.
Accomodation – Wilpena Pound Resort (Middle Flinders) – This really is the jewel in the Flinders crown. An incredible resort nestled amongst the trees in the heart of Wilpena Pound. The kids will love the pool, the parents will love the decking next to the pool overlooking some amazing bushland. A great restaurant and bar are ready to serve and be sure to attend an inspiring Welcome to Country, which is held in the evening most nights by the Adnyamathanha people. Their influence is strongly felt in the resort and their passion and willingness to share their history was fantastic. You really could spend a month here and not experience it all. Not to mention modern and very comfortable rooms, a supermarket, visitor centre and petrol station, this really is a one-stop shop for your Flinders Ranges holiday.
Read more about our stay at Wilpena Pound Resort below
Flinders Ranges Itinerary – Day 4
Activities – Yura Udnyu Cultural Walk (Wilpena Pound Resort) – On our last morning before coming home, we took part in one of the activities offered by the Wilpena Pound Resort, a 2hr cultural walk. This was fantastic, with the insight and history from the guide a real highlight and well enjoyed by our group. It isn’t a long walk, so even the little kids won’t struggle too much, but take lots of water as it can get warm even in the early morning.
Food – Cradock Hotel – On our way back home, as we reached the southern Flinders area just near Hawker, we stopped in for lunch at the Cradock Hotel. As a parent who has eaten at hundreds of pubs and restaurants with kids, I will comfortably say this was the best I have ever been too.
The Flinders was an absolutely brilliant family holiday. Highly recommend it and we are already planning our next trip back (hopefully with a 4×4!)
To read more about the places we stayed on our Flinders Ranges family holiday click here