The Flinders Ranges is a treasure of ancient dramatic landscapes. Travel from Adelaide, through the Clare Valley into The Flinders Ranges. Experience spiritual, 800-million-year-old Wilpena Pound. At this time, networks of channels, streams and floodplains have converged in Lake Eyre National Park, bringing an abundance of wildlife, and stunning natural beauty.
Arrive in Adelaide Airport where you meet your Ross tour leader. Our destination this afternoon is the picturesque Clare Valley. Here, a patchwork of farmland seamlessly blends, rows of vines, elegant eucalypts and natural bushland. Check into your hotel, Clare Country Club for the next two nights and soak in the bucolic rural setting. Welcome dinner together tonight.
Step back in time at Bungaree Station Established by George Hawker and his brothers in 1841, Bungaree became the headquarters of an extensive sheep station with 100 thousand merino sheep by the 1880s. It resembled a small village, with its own Church, Station Store, Blacksmith Shop and even the District Council Chambers , as well as its beautiful sandstone Homestead, Woolshed, Shearers Quarters, Stableyard, Managers House and other staff cottages. Now, 178 years later, it is an efficient mixed farm run by the descendants of the original founder, G.C. Hawker. Consequently Bungaree Station is not a museum, but rather a living record of rural Australia since 1841. Enjoy lunch here and soak up life on this fascinating property. Afternoon wine tasting at Seven Hill Winery. The first winery ever built in the Clare Valley and one of the oldest in Australia.
Travel north through the beautifully sparse landscapes to the desert oasis of Parachilna. First licensed in 1876, the award-winning Prairie Hotel is today one of Australia’s most iconic outback destinations and renowned for its innovative menu. As today’s lunch spot, it’s the perfect spot to soak up this extraordinary landscape and meet some locals. At the historic railway town of Lyndhurst are the remarkable Ochre Cliffs. An important site for local Adnyamathanha people and protected under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988, the Ochre Cliffs are a quarry where, for thousands of years, local people quarried ochre then trading it as far north as the Northern Territory and Queensland, and south to the coast. The cliffs are a visual feast of red, yellow, white and brown. Continue your desert journey to Marree your home in the outback for the next two nights. Dinner included tonight.
Maree is at the junction of the Birdsville and Oodnadatta Tracks and surrounded by vast deserts. Nearby is Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre. At 144 kilometres long and 77 kilometres wide, it is Australia’s largest salt lake, an important indigeneous cultural site and a natural wonder. The best way to appreciate Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre’s incredible colours and patterns is from the air. For a truly unforgettable experience, there’s the option this morning to take a scenic flight – at own expense – over the lake. You’ll also see the Dingo Fence and mysterious Marree Man, the world’s largest work of art. Maree is a fascinating town to explore, full of local history including the small reconstruction of a mosque to commemorate the first mosque in Australia, built in 1861 by Afghan camel drivers. Weather permitting, we’ll drive a little of the famous Birdsville track. Dinner included tonight.
We are travelling into the ancient gorge country of the Flinders Ranges-Ikara National Park. In rugged Parachilna Gorge, giant river red gums line the creek bed, offering a shady spot for morning tea. Lunch stop in the historic copper mining town of Blinman before we head into Wilpena Pound. It’s a dramatic landscape as the road winds up out of the gorge. A photo stop to see the rocky ridge line known as the Great Wall, an astonishing geological feature. Experience a sense of place and space that is unique to the semi-arid zone. As the suns sets this place is teeming with kangaroos and emus. Keep watch for the elusive Yellow Footed Wallaby. We are heading to Wilpena Pound Resort, in the heart of Flinders Ranges on Adnyamathanha Country. Dinner is included tonight.
Cradled by ancient mountain ranges on the edge of the desert, Wilpena Pound is the crowning jewel of the Flinders Ranges. Also known by its Adnyamathanha name of Ikara, meaning meeting place. A local guide from the historic Willow Springs Station joins us today, this vast and ancient landscape with its iconic landforms, unique geology and wildflowers; a landscape that inspired artists including Sir Hans Heysen.
Wilpena Pound is a natural amphitheatre. Native white cypress, mallees and wildflowers dominate the rugged scenery in Bunyeroo Valley and Brachina Gorge. This pass was used by bullock teams pulling their loads as they traversed the ranges. Today it’s a refuge for the elusive Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby. Birdlife is rich and varied. Picnic lunch is included today. Stop to photograph the famous Cazneaux Tree, a solitary river red gum made famous by Australian photographer Harold Cazneaux who captured it’s image in 1937.
We should see Australia’s National Floral Emblem, the Golden Wattle, Acacia pycnantha, in full bloom. It’s a full day of saturated geology, flora and fauna in this “cradle of life”.
Dinner is included tonight at the resort.
A scenic flight (own expense) is the ultimate way to experience Wilpena Pound and the Ikara-Flinders Ranges. This optional morning flight takes you over the Wilpena Pound, the ranges and gorges that make up this spectacular national park. From the air, you’ll get a bird’s eye view and see how the two Ranges form a backbone on the landscape below. It’s a truly unmissable experience. On the ground, there’s much to see today at Old Wilpena Station one of South Australia’s oldest and best-preserved pastoral settlements. Stroll under magnificent river red gums with stunning views of Wilpena Pound.
And finally a ‘Sunset Tour’ to watch changing colours of this vast ancient landscape of Wilpena and the Flinders Ranges from a panoramic viewing platform with drinks and canapes. Our local guide will relate traditional stories of the formation of the Flinders Ranges and the two serpents that joined to form Ikara (Wilpena Pound). Dinner is included this evening in your hotel.
We are leaving the desert and traveling into Port Augusta to visit Australia’s arid heart at the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden. It’s a garden of plants from Australia’s low rainfall regions, that is also home to more than 150 bird species. Next the charming historic town of Quorn. Once an important town at the junction of the Sydney-Perth and Adelaide-Darwin railway systems, Quorn is now a popular film set/location. Beautiful heritage-listed sites and dramatic landscape have seen the making of productions as diverse as Wolf Creek, Gallipoli, The Shiralee, The Sundowners, The Lighthorsemen, Sunday Too Far Away, The Last Ride and Robbery Under Arms. Stay overnight in Quorn to see the Silo light show.
On our way back to Adelaide we stop in Snowton, on the South Australian Silo Art Trail. The Silo Art Movement is more than a visual spectacle; it is a dynamic force of transformation and rejuvenation. In its majestic strokes and grandeur lie the seeds of renewal for many towns and communities that once teetered on the brink of obscurity.
Arrive in Adelaide, check into your deluxe hotel in the centre of the city. Farewell dinner tonight at the hotel.
Free morning in Adelaide. Early afternoon transfer to Adelaide airport for your flight home.
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