Wilpena Pound is the centrepiece of South Australia’s Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park. The oval shaped range with its steep walls and jagged peaks is one of the best known features of the Flinders Ranges. But what can you do when you get there?
There are a bunch of things to do at Wilpena Pound that make it a must see on your trip to the Flinders Ranges.
Disclosure: Please Note That Some Links In This Post May Be Affiliate Links, And At No Additional Cost To You, We Earn A Small Commission If You Make A Purchase. Commissions Go Toward Maintaining The Curious Campers Website.
- Getting to Wilpena Pound
- Things to do in Wilpena Pound
- Wilpena Pound Visitor Centre
- Wilpena Pound Walks
- Mountain Bike Riding & Hire
- Wilpena Pound Scenic Flights
- Old Wilpena Station
- See the Cazneaux Tree
- Wilpena Pound Cultural Tour Experiences
- Star Gazing
- Wildlife Spotting
- Things to do within 60 minutes of Wilpena Pound
- Day Trips from Wilpena Pound
- Wilpena Pound Accommodation
- Flinders Ranges Multi-Day Tours
Getting to Wilpena Pound
Wilpena Pound is about 5 hours north of Adelaide in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park. There are two routes to get there, both about the same length. You can either follow the coast on National Highway 1 through Port Pirie, Port Augusta then inland to Quorn or take the R M Williams Way via Spalding and Orroroo. The routes converge before reaching the historic town of Hawker.
We often take a third route that comes off R M Williams Way and goes through Gladstone, Wirrabara and Melrose. There are some great views of the southern Flinders Ranges and you go through Stone Hut, which has an incredible bakery. This route re-joins the Highway 1 at Quorn.
Things to do in Wilpena Pound
There are both lots of things you can do in Wilpena Pound and using Wilpena Pound as a base to explore the southern Flinders Ranges. Below is a guide of things to in Wilpena Pound and then a drives you can do and how long they will take.
Wilpena Pound Visitor Centre
The Wilpena Pound Visitor Centre should be your first stop in the Flinders Ranges. If nothing else, you can buy your National Parks pass if you haven’t already done so online.
There is a lot to see beyond Wilpena Pound. Brachina and Parachilna Gorges, Blinman and Quorn being the most popular. The visitor centre has all the information you need including maps and current road conditions.
If you have been struggling to get a phone signal on your drive to the Flinders Ranges, you can reconnect with the world here too.
Wilpena Pound Walks
The best way to explore Wilpena Pound is by foot and there are many marked hikes to try that start at the Visitor Centre. Here are a few of the most popular walks…
Hills Homestead Trail
This easy 6.5 kilometre walk starts at the Visitor Centre, goes through the Pound Gap and into Wilpena Pound. It is a flat walk that gives you a great taste of the area.
There are giant river red gums, the rocky pass into the gorge and you might even see some water in Wilpena creek. The walk finishes at the Wilpena Homestead. There is information about European settlement in the area and Adnyamathanha Dreamtime stories.
This walk is a continuation of the Hills Homestead walk. It will add an hour to your walk and there is some moderately steep terrain to cover. It is worth getting a bit puffed though because the view of Wilpena Pound from the lookouts is great. You’ll definitely be getting your camera out!
There are a two lookouts on the walk. The second lookout is about 300 metres above the first. It is worth catching your breath at the first lookout and pressing on. From the second lookout you also get a nice view of the Pound Gap that you walked through earlier.
Mount Ohlssen-Bagge Hike
This is often rated as one of the best hikes from Wilpena Pound. There are great views throughout the walk as you make your way along Wilpena Creek, through the Pound gap then up to the top of Mount Ohlssen-Bagge. The views of Wilpena Pound and wildlife sightings are a highlight.
You have to work for it though, the 7km Mount Ohlssen-Bagge Hike is rated as difficult – it is steep and there is a bit of rock scrambling involved. Despite this, it is a great Flinders Ranges and Wilpena Pound experience. The trail is marked from the Wilpena Pound Visitor Centre.
St Mary Peak
No trip to Wilpena Pound is complete without debating whether to do the St Mark Peak walk. At 1171 metres above sea level, it is the highest peak not only in Wilpena Pound, but in the Flinders Ranges.
The 14.6km Outside Trail takes 6 hours. The 21.5km inside trail is a loop track that takes about 9 hrs. This is a very difficult walk/scramble/climb. The trails close during December, January and February.
The view from the peak is, of course, spectacular. This isn’t the walk to do on a whim. Check the conditions and have plenty of supplies if you are going to give it a try.
St Mary Peak is a culturally significant site for the Adnyamathanha people. They request that people do not climb to the summit. If you wish to honour this request, there are great views from Tanderra Saddle (943 metres).
Mountain Bike Riding & Hire
Another great way to look around Wilpena Pound and the Flinders Ranges is by bike. Bike hire is available from the Wilpena Pound Visitor Centre. You can pay per hour or hire a bike for the day. While you can’t ride into the Pound, the ride out to the Wilpena Homestead is great for average cyclists or the longer 55km ride from Gum Creek to Wilpena Pound is rated one of the best rides in the Flinders Ranges. There is also a 22km ride between Wilpena Pound and Rawnsley Park.
Wilpena Pound Scenic Flights
There is a way to get even better views than climbing St Mary Peak. Do what we did and fly over it! There is an airstrip at Wilpena Pound and several operators have tours over The Pound and beyond.
We flew with Wrightsair and had a great time. As it turned out, our pilot Mark, was the Grandson of eminent geologist Reg Sprigg. Among Reg’s many achievements, he established the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary.
Not surprisingly, we got a first class geological tour. We went on an early flight. It was cool, clear and turbulence free. Best of all, the view of Wilpena Pound and the surrounding ranges was awesome. Seeing it all from only a few thousand feet in the air was a hoot. It is a great way to see the Flinders Ranges.
Wrightsair were great to deal with, booking and communication was easy. We not only learnt a lot about the area but had a great time during the flight. Give them a try if you decide to take to the air.
Old Wilpena Station
This heritage listed site gives a great insight into the area’s pastoral history. Established in 1851, the site remained a working station for a remarkable 135 years. It only ceased operation in 1986 which might explain why the old buildings are in such good condition.
We visited here in the late afternoon. The sun cast a lovely gold light over the stone buildings creating a wonderful atmosphere. It was only us and a few kangaroos as we walked around reading about each of the buildings.
There is a 4 kilometre, 90 minute walk to Old Wilpena Station from Wilpena Pound or you can drive there. The site is quite spread out but easy to get around.
See the Cazneaux Tree
Who knew there was such a famous tree right next door to Wilpena Pound? Not us! I’m sure we aren’t the only ones whose knowledge of Australian photographic art history is bit thin so…
In 1937 Harold Cazneaux photographed this gnarled old river red gum. He called the picture ‘Spirit of Endurance’, entered it in an international exhibition and won. 100 years later, the tree is still there, so you can see it and take your own potentially award winning picture.
If, like us, this was your first foray into the history of professional photography, there’s more. The photographer – Harold Cazneaux – is Australian entrepreneur and adventurer Dick Smith’s grandfather. Again, who knew!
There is a 2 hour, 8 kilometre return walk along the Wilpena Creek Bed from Wilpena Pound to the site.
Wilpena Pound Cultural Tour Experiences
The Adnyamathanha People (or Yura) have lived in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges for tens of thousands of years. It is one thing to explore this beautiful outback location on your own, but seeing the ranges and wildlife and colour of the landscape through their eyes and stories of adds a whole new level of understanding and appreciation to your visit here. There are several cultural experiences from Wilpena Pund that give you an insight to the Adnyamathanha People’s connection to the land.
- Welcome to Country – This free event happens daily at dusk on the lawns of the Wilpena Pound Visitor Centre. Learn about the Adnyamathanha flag and hear some traditional stories.
- Yura Udnyu Our Culture, Your Culture walking tour – Join a Yura guide for the easy 2 hour walk to Wilpena Station. Learn about the history of the area and the wildlife and landscape through the eyes of the Adnyamathanha.
- Sacred Canyon tour – This 2 hour tour gives you a unique insight to the engravings at Sacred Canyon. Only Yura guides can speak the stories behind the engravings so this is a fascinating cultural tour.
- Sunset Spectacular – There isn’t a more spectatcular sunset location than the Flinders Ranges. Take in the views, hear creation stories and relax with drinks and snacks. 2hours
- Akarroo Adnya Adnyamathanha Rock Art Tour – On this 3 hour walking tour, learn about the landscape through Yura eyes, and see some incredible rock and hear the stories behind it.
With very little human light and sitting well above sea level, the Flinders Ranges is a sensational spot for start gazing. Whether you want to try your hand at photographing the night sky or you just want to see the Milky Way spread across the darkness above you, there is no better location than the Flinders ranges.
There are plenty of native animals to see around Wilpena Pound. The best time to spot them is around dusk and into the night. There were dozens of Kangaroos at Old Wilpena Station. We saw some emus there too. You’ll also see them around Wilpena Pound later in the day.
Once the sun goes down keep an eye out for echidnas and spotted quolls. The quolls have recently been released back into Wilpena Pound and are doing well. We heard from the rangers that it is not unusual to see them around the campground at night. We didn’t have any luck quoll spotting but took comfort from the many quoll signs in the area.
Things to do within 60 minutes of Wilpena Pound
Not only are there lots of things to do in Wilpena Pound, but there is also a bit to see nearby. Wilpena Pound is a great base for exploring more of the Flinders Ranges. Here are a few attractions within 60 minute drive of Wilpena Pound.
Hucks Lookout is only 15 minutes from the turn off to Wilpena Pound on Flinders Ranges Way. It is a short, easy drive to Hucks Lookout from the main road and you get some fantastic views of the ABC Ranges – named for the 26 peaks in the range. The other interesting thing here is the grass trees dotted across the foreground. It is an easy stop and worth checking pout for the views.
Stokes Hill Lookout
If you like the views from Hucks Lookout, go less than 10 minutes further along Flinders Ranges Way to Stokes Hill Lookout – it is on the opposite side of the road to Hucks Lookout. Follow the sign up a very steep hill (possibly not suitable if you are towing) to the top for panoramic views across Wilpena Pound and Elder, Heysen, Chase and Bunker Range. There is a big 3D model of the area that shows you which range is where. We also saw a stack of kangaroos up here.
Great Wall of China
This rocky feature is 45 minutes from Wilpena Pound on the same side of the road as Stokes Hill Lookout. The sign for the turn off is at the turn off so keep a careful eye out for it, it is about 13 or 14 km after the turn off to Brachina Gorge.
From the turn off it is an easy dirt road drive to the base of a range with a very clear layer different colour stone at the top which is the Great Wall of China. No photo really does it justice, it is an interesting thing to see with your own eyes. Certainly worth a stop if you are making your way to Blinman.
Bunyeroo Valley & Razorback Lookout
Besides the bowl-shaped Wilpena Pound, the view of the winding road in Bunyeroo Valley surrounded by ranges is one of the most iconic images of the Flinders Ranges. It takes about 40 minutes to get from Wilpena Pound to the Bunyeroo Valley Lookout and Razorback Lookout which are a couple of minutes from one another. Take the turn off onto Bunyeroo Road and follow it along to the two lookouts.
It is a totally distracting drive, the scenery of the ranges is just breathtaking. It is a dirt road but 2WD should be fine, the track is well maintained. If you follow Bunyeroo Road right through, you end up on the fantastic Brachina Gorge Road – more on that shortly.
The 50 minute drive to Blinman from Wilpena Pound is a fantastic day trip. Along the way you pass Hucks Lookout, Stokes Hill Lookout and the Great Wall of China and the historic town of Blinman is a great place to explore. The best thing here (not counting the Cornish pasties at the cafe – yum!) is the guided tour of the Blinman Copper Mine – it is really interesting and you get right down into the tunnels.
The tour takes a break in January but generally runs several times a day, check the Blinman website for times, they vary a bit across the year and you need to book ahead. You can also do a self-guided tour outside the mine. The North Blinman Pub is great spot for lunch and the town is also the start of the Parachilna Gorge drive.
Day Trips from Wilpena Pound
Wilpena Pound is a great base for doing getting to some of the best thing in the Flinders Ranges. One or both of the two drives below should definitely be on your list of things to do when you are staying in Wilpena Pound. Both are most comfortably done in a 4WD but 2WD cars are fine if the road is in good condition, so make sure you check road conditions at the Visitor Centre before you go.
Brachina Gorge Drive
The main feature of this drive is the 20km long Brachina Gorge Geological Trail. The trail starts at the eastern end of Brachina Gorge Road and finishes in the Gorge where you can stop and look for yellow footed rock wallabies. Along the way there are lots of stops at significant geological sites where you can have a walk around and see and read about the geological history of the area. It is fascinating and spectacular. The drive will take 2 – 4 hours depending on how many stops you make.
- Book a half day tour through Brachina Gorge and Bunyeroo Valley including Razorback Lookout
If you do the 50 minute drive to Blinman, you will find yourself at the start of the Parachilna Gorge Road. This is still a great drive into the gorge, there are some more serious 4WD tracks along the way if that is your thing. The scenery is great and the track end at the Prairie Hotel. The landscape is beautiful and there is plenty of wildlife along the way. Combining this with the trip to Blinman is a fun day out. The loop drive will take you 2 – 4 hours depending on stops at Blinman and Parachilna.
The Prairie Hotel in Parachilna is one of the most iconic outback pubs in Australia made famous by its feral and roadkill cuisine. They also have ‘non-feral’ dishes and indigenous inspired meals so for an authentic Australian dining experience this is the place to try.
The Prairie Hotel is open Wednesday to Sunday between form 11.00am to 6.30pm and for lunch from 12.00pm and 3.00pm. If you want to stay on the bitumen, it is a 90 minute drive there via Hawker on the Outback Highway. If you are driving east west on either the Brachina Gorge or Parachilna Gorge roads you will get to once those roads pop out at the Outback Highway.
Wilpena Pound Accommodation
Staying in the outback doesn’t mean you have to compromise on your accommodation, there is accommodation to suit all tastes. And while you can stay right there at Wilpena Pound, there are other options nearby.
Wilpena Pound Resort
Accommodation ranges from unpowered campsites to hotel rooms that sleep up to six. Throw in ‘glamping’ safari tents, and you can see why Wilpena Pound Resort caters to all travellers.
Campsites are generously sized, and many have fire pits. You will need to bring in your wood as wood collection in the national park is a no, no. Because it is a national park, pets are not allowed.
A vast majority of the sites are unpowered. If you are after a powered site, you should book in advance. Large sites are also available for travellers getting around in a bus.
- Wilpena Pound Resort – Choose from hotel rooms, to ‘glamping’ safari tents, and powered and unpowered bush campsites. Walk from your accommodation into Wilpena Pound.
Rawnsley Park Station
Less than 25 minutes from Wilpena Pound, Rawnsley Park Station has all styles of accommodation from camp sites to luxury eco villas. Not only are still close to Wilpena Pound and can enjoy everything there, but Rawnsley itself is a beautiful area with many great walks and 4WD tracks. The food at the Woolshed Restaurant, which you can get as takeaway too, is fantastic.
- Stay in Luxury in a Rawnsley Park Eco-Villa and enjoy the sunets across the station
- Choose from a range of Rawnsley Park Accommodation perfect for your stay
Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park Camping
There are several well maintained campsites within the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park including the Youngoona, Trezona, and Brachina East campgrounds. The Teamsters Camp site is especially spectacular. All sites need to be booked and paid for online. Check the South Australia’s National Parks site for details.
Flinders Ranges Multi-Day Tours
- Flinders Ranges 3 Day 4wd Eco Tour – See wildlife & natural attractions of Wilpena Pound, go wine tasting in the Clare Valley including meals and your choice of accommodation
- 5 Day “Pack Free” Hiking Tour of the Flinders Ranges from Adelaide – From Rawnsley Park, Brachina Gorge, Blinman Pools & Alligator Gorge
If you enjoyed this story you might also like:
Like it? Pin it for Later…
500 THINGS TO DO
Join our mailing list and receive our Free Top 500 things to do in Australia. If you love the Australian Outdoors download this list and keep it handy when you are planning a weekend away or a road trip around Australia.