Words & Images Sam De Beer
The Flinders Ranges are the largest mountain range in South Australia. They stretch for about 200km in a northerly direction from Port Pirie in the south, to Strzelecki Track in the north.
A large, crescent-shaped amphitheatre, Wilpena Pound, is one of the landmarks in the Ranges. It is about 80 square kilometres and looks very much like the Magalies Mountain Range.
In the north is the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, owned and run by the Sprigg family, and that was where we were heading.
We had to make a stop at the coal mining town of Leigh Creek to fill up, and to replace our fancy gas stove that had proved not able to stand the rigours of travel. From there, we drove around the Vulkathunha Gammon Ranges National Park to Arkaroola, high up in the mountains.
The roads were rough and the campsite was hot and barren.
That night, we joined a group taking a precarious drive up a mountain to one of three observatories, where we were given the opportunity to look at the night sky through a large telescope. It was an amazing experience that will stay with us forever.
A wide circle
Our next stop was Wilpena Pound campground, under the cliffs of Wilpena Pound – a natural amphitheatre of mountains.
It was raining when we arrived, and we made a wet camp. Luckily, most Australian campsites are well set to cater for campers and travellers on a budget, and we could do our cooking and washing-up in the camp kitchen.
That night, with the rain coming down softly on our pop-up tent, we discussed the pros and cons of trailers, campers and rooftop tents… Although we have always maintained that a tent on the ground is the best option for us, we were seriously contemplating getting something more resistant to rain, wind and cold than our three-second pop-up.
We woke to a drizzle coming down from grey skies, so decided to get out of there and reconnoitre the central part of the Flinders, where it was more likely to be dry.