Ranges - a 4WD Paradise
4x4 Travel runs tag along tours through the Corner Country, Birdsville
and down to the Flinders Ranges via Marree and Lake Eyre South -
Interested in joining us? - More Details Here
The Flinders Ranges extend just under 500 kilometers from Crystal
Brook, south of Port Pirie at the head of Spencer Gulf, to north of the
Arkaroola - Mount Painter Wildlife Sanctuary in the north, flanked by
Lake Torrens on its west and Lake From on its east.
The area abounds in 4wd tracks and is a paradise for many four wheel
drivers. Many of the private properties along the ranges have
constructed drive yourself 4wd tracks through their properties, many of
which lead to spectacular vantage points.
The tracks are graded from easy to hard and are accessed by arrangement
with the property owners or managers.
They consist of hard quartzite and granite outcrops that have evolved
from what was a broad plateau millions of years ago. Having
been squeezed into a rugged mountain range rivaling the Andes time and
weather has considerably lessened its towering peaks as well
as rounding its edges.
There is a striking difference between it relatively moist south to its
dry and arid north, with the eastern boundaries receiving more rain
than the west. A wide variety of flora and fauna abounds throughout.
Early settlers left the area badly scared with over grazing of cattle
and sheep and wheat farmers regularly cleared vaste tracts of natural
vegetation to plant crops. It is a legacy that largely remains today
with much of the region never fully recovering from those early farming
Beginning as low ridges near Crystal Brook, the Flinders Ranges really
become visible as you head north towards Mount Remarkable to the east
of Port Pirie and Germain Bay. If you have some time to spare, and like
walking, there is a walking trail from Melrose to the top of the peak
towards the north of Mount Remarkable National Park. The walk takes
five to six hours return.
North of Mount Remarkable and a little south east of Port
Augusta is Wilmington, originally known as Beautiful Valley, a
thriving community with a significant historical past.
From Wilmington the more popular route heads north to Hawker via Quorn,
whilst the alternate route is to the north east via Carrieton and
Nowhere near the size of Quorn, Carrieton and Craddock, with their less
hustle and bustle, do provide accommodation and supplies are available.
There are a couple of small mining sites in the area as well as a few
tourist attractions and things to do.
They are in a region that provided much optimism in the past as farmers
took up small packages of land many of whom ended up in despair.
Carrieton and Craddock have survived unlike the virtual ghost towns in
their vicinity of Eurelia, Hammond, Johnburgh, Moockra, Belton and
Quorn on the other hand is a major tourist destination and is a popular
base for a holiday in the region. It is within easy reach of both the
north and south of the Flinders Ranges and with the Buckaringa Gorge
and Warren Gorge within an easy drive there are some excellent
destinations in the area.
a few kilometers north of Quorn is the Arden Hills property owned by
Graham and Inge Stokes. It has been owned their family since Graham's
grandfather purchased in the area in 1913. It is a 4WD drivers
paradise, with tracks varying from easy, and suitable for soft roaders,
to those suitable only for more experienced four wheel drivers and
vehicles with low range.
Mountain bikers, bush walkers and those wanting to go on horseback find
this property equally appealing.
scenery on the Arden Hills property is spectacular as seen above and
Hills is a working property and you will see sheep in many of the
paddocks that you pass through, so please leave the gates as
find them, don't deviate off the marked tracks, respect the water
storage areas and take your rubbish with you when you leave.
first, Nathaltee Track, takes about one and a half hours and, in order
to gain access, you will need to book with, and collect keys
the Austral Hotel in Quorn. The Austral's phone number is 8648 6017.
other is the Arden Hills Track and you should allow at least half a day
for this one. Again the Austral Hotel have the keys and will handle
your booking. You will need a little more driving experience however
you will be rewarded with some of the most stunning scenery in the
Flinders Ranges as you tackle the exhilarating climbs and breathtaking
The start of the track takes you past an old marble
mine, through stands of native pine and into the spinifex and grass
tree habitation. As you head out on the track you will do creek
crossings and see the remains of the damage that devastating bush fires
caused in 1987.
Once over the creek the track starts its climb
into the high country. The highest point on the track gives
spectacular 360 degree view
that takes in Lake Torrens, Mount Remarkable, the Willochra Plain and
Wilpena Pound, on a good clear day, with Wedge Tailed Eagles frequently
in your view.
the track winds on there are several more climbs, descents and creek
crossings through very interesting and varied natural vegetation until
you end your journey through Arden Hills near Warren's Gorge.
going can get tough but there are plenty of enjoyable places to relax
Nathaltee Track starts about 8 kilometers out of Quorn heading
westward off the Warren's Gorge Road and is
for all 4WD's and is rated easy. The track is 9km long and ends back on
the Warren's Gorge road about 1.5 km north of where you started.
you enter the Arden Hills Property you travel along their
southern boundary and past the ruins of the Havelberg family homestead.
The Havelberg's occupied this homestead until 1946 when their farm was
purchased by the Stokes family and consolidated into their own property.
passed the ruin you will pass through the Back Lucerne and Nathalee
paddocks, with their vegetation ranging from large Red River Gums to
Spinifex before you start climbing higher to to spectacular views and
Depot paddock. This leads you to the highest point on the track, an
excellent spot for a break, with an outlook over Arden Vale, a cuppa
and great scenery.
The commanding view of Mt Arden to the north,
Dutchman's stern to the south west, Devils Peak and Mt Bowen
the south and the Horseshoe Range to the east, with Ragless Range and
the Willochra Plain between you, is a photo shoot opportunity that
those who haven't been on this track will envy.
here the track wanders past another home ruin and various
with a great variety of flaura and fauna before you arrive
the Warren's Gorge Road, and back to Quorn or on to Warren's Gorge.
For bush walkers there are the popular destinations of The Dutchmans
Stern Conservation Park, Mt Brown and Devils Peak. The district around
Quorn also offers places of historical interest such as Simmonston,
also know as the town that never was.
Land was advertised in Simmonston, a little over half way between Quorn
and Hawker, to coincide with a proposed railway line through the area
and, whilst development was started on a pub and store, the railway
line was re-positioned elsewhere and none of the buildings were
North of Simmonston is Hawker and the gateway to Wilpena Pound and the
Flinders Ranges National Park. It is also in close proximity to the
ghost towns of Hookina, to its north west, Wilson and Gordon, which are
both to its south on the road from Quorn to Hawker.
Originally settled in the late 1800's Hawker became a major center with
the arrival of the railway. The town was a major rail terminal until
the trains stopped running through here in the early 1970's.
Today the town is a major tourist destination and has an ample supply
of all mod cons. On its outskirts is the excellent vantage point of
Jarvis Hill whilst displays of Aboriginal rock art can be found at the
There are several properties in the Hawker district that offer self
drive four wheel drive tracks, most of which won't leave you
disappointed. Tracks are available to suit, regardless of your driver
skill levels. Many of these properties also offer camping facilities.
For those not looking to do, or don't feel up to, long four wheel drive
trips many of these in the area can be done in a time frame of a couple
of hours up to a day or so.
North of Hawker the Flinders Ranges National Park, Wilpena
and the well known Wilpena Pound, a vaste natural, oval,
amphitheatre. Once much deeper than present, and originally thought to
have been caused by a meteorite, the 'bowl' has been partially filled
with rock and vegetation waste over the years.
It derives its name from the Aboriginal term Wilpena, or bent fingers
and cupped hand, and pound which was a term given to a stock enclosure.
The perimeter of Wilpena Pond is made up of high and rugged ranges and
offers a spectacular show of changing colours as the day progresses and
the light angles change.
Whilst farm stock is prohibited in the area these days there were early
attempts at farming here in the early days, particularly by the Hill
family. The Hill Homestead is accessible via a walking track which
leads from the Wilpena Resort Visitor Centre. Beyond the homestead it
is a short walk to Wangarra Lookout. Although steep and strenuous the
end of the walk provides a spectacular of the entire Wilpena Pound.
There are many lovely gorges and lookouts in the area, certainly enough
to keep one busy for several days. Many say the best way to truly
appreciate the magnitude and splendor of Wilpena Pond is from the air
and, yes, there are scenic flights available.
The Wilpena Resort, located within the park, offers variable
accommodation from four star motel lodgings in the resort itself to
facilities for caravanners and campers. There is a well stocked store
and fuel is available.
North of Wilpena Pond is the Vulkathuna - Gammon Ranges National Park.
This is a rugged region with few roads and tracks but lots of walking
tracks as much of the area is inaccessible by vehicles of any kind.
On the way between the two is Blinman, which is a historic mining town.
Now days it is a tourist town with good food and accommodation.
Between Blinman and the Vulkathuna - Gammon Ranges National Park is the
Mount Chambers Gorge which is certainly the most spectacular
gorge in the whole of the Flinders Ranges. Parts of the gorge are
accessible by conventional vehicle with care but a 4wd would be needed
to penetrate deeper. There are several places to camp but there are no
On the eastern edge of the Vulkathuna - Gammon Ranges National Park is
the old Balcanoona Homestead where accommodation is available in the
converted shearers quarters.
Camping spots are also to be found at Italowie and Weetootla Gorges.
These are spectacular gorges with relatively easy access, particularly
by four wheel drive. There are several other locations within
the park that have the remnants of dwellings and homesteads along with
their historical significance.
Balcanoona is also the access point for the 4wd track that leads to
Lake Frome on the eastern edges of the national park. Lake Frome is one
of the last drainage lakes in the chain that drains from Cooper Creek
to the north.
On the northern edges of the Vulkathuna - Gammon Ranges
National Park is the Arkaroola - Mt Palmer Wildlife Sanctuary run by
Douglas and Margaret Sprigg.
Douglas is a descendant of Reg Sprigg, a South Australian geologist,
who, with his wife Griselda purchased a run down sheep station in the
late 1960's after becoming fascinated with the regions landscape.
After purchase they proceeded in removing the properties stock and
started the transformation into a nature reserve. They also had an
enormous task of ridding the property of thousands of wild goats and
There are camping and caravaning facilities available at Arkaroola as
well as many excellent sightseeing points. Quite a bit of what is to be
seen here is by 4wd track only and permission from the owners is
required before proceeding. Today the sanctuary, with its very
revitalised landscape, is probably the closest one will ever get of
seeing how the Flinders Ranges were before the original farmers and
graziers made their farming mistakes in the early days.
West of the Vulkathuna - Gammon Ranges National Park is Leigh Creek,
roughly half way between the western edges of the park and Lake
Although first established in the early 1950's, the town of Leigh Creek
was relocated by the Electricity Trust of South Australia in the early
1980's to a little south of the original position to make way for
extended coal mining.
The town is situated adjacent to the Old Ghan Railway Line and there
are some good historic and sightseeing spots in the area, particularly
if you are interested in mining, as the Leigh Creek Coalfield mine run
regular tours as well as the workings being able to be seen from the
Apart from Leigh Creek Coalfield there are relics of old gold and
copper mines in the area, many of which are a stark reminder as to the
harsh conditions that these early miners worked in.
South west of the town is the Aroona Dam Sanctuary and Aroona Dam. The
access road winds through rugged country towards the dam. Constructed
in 1955 it is the main water supply for Leigh Creek and the coalfields.
There are some excellent spots to camp and there are some very pleasant
walking tracks as well as walks up to Mt Aroona and Mt Scott.
Much of the area is accessible by 2wd although a 4wd will take to
Although the Strzelecki Track starts from Lyndhurst, to the north of
here, Leigh Creek is the last major place for repairs and major supply
replenishment before starting on a journey along the Strzelecki.
Many people undertaking the Strz don't start from Lyndhurst but choose
to travel up through the eastern side of the Flinders Ranges through
Hawker, Wilpena, Blinman and Balcanoona to join the track east of Mount