Hawker is the closest small town to Wilpena Pound, which makes it a popular base for those who want to avoid the more expensive prices of accommodation inside the national park.
Accommodation in Hawker has come a long way in recent years and your choices are no longer confined to pubs, motels, and caravan parks.
Several holiday lets and bed and breakfast properties allow travellers to experience what it’s like to live in Hawker – a town that has more of a remote, outback vibe than nearby Quorn.
Station stays have also become popular in the last few years, and while none are located in the town itself, some are located just a short drive away.
Here is a look at the accommodation options in and around Hawker.
Flinders Ranges Bed and Breakfast
Flinders Ranges Bed and Breakfast was not the first option of its kind in Hawker, but I dare say it is now the most popular.
I’ve stayed at this place three times, and I’ll tell you why below.
Owner Nigel is a man who possesses the lost art of storytelling. Now anyone can tell a story, but Nigel brings them to life with well-timed sound effects and an unrivalled passion for the outback, its history, flora, fauna, and people. It also helps that he is one of the most generous souls you’ll meet.
On to the accommodation.
Flinders Ranges Bed and Breakfast is a 2-bedroom unit located a few blocks back from Hawker’s main street and points of interest such as the Jeff Morgan Gallery, Visitor Information Centre (Teague Motors), and Flinders Food Co.
The first thing you notice as you enter the front door is the smell of freshly baked bread. The aroma is obviously inviting and enough to make anyone happy, but it’s the gesture that means the most. Nigel has done this for each of his guests for years.
The second best thing about Nigel’s place is how well-equipped it is. Yes, it’s a bed and breakfast, but he goes above and beyond in terms of breakfast items. He even supplies Vittoria coffee!
But it’s everything else, too. The DVDs, books, maps, and magazines on all manner of Flinders Ranges attractions. The toiletries in the bathroom. The five different varieties of milk in the fridge, and the pool-style recliners set up in the backyard for stargazers.
I could wax lyrical about Nigel’s place forever, but it would be best if you discover it for yourself. Just know that the man has been an Airbnb Superhost for 12 consecutive valuation periods and readily incorporates guest feedback to improve his accommodation.
Flinders Ranges Bed and Breakfast sleeps up to 8 people. The first bedroom has a queen bed, while the second has a double. In the living room, extra guests can be accommodated on a sofa bed and floor mattress.
Hawker Bed and Breakfast
In September 2020, Nigel opened Hawker Bed and Breakfast right next door to Flinders Ranges Bed and Breakfast.
His second property is a cottage typical of most colonial houses in the Flinders Ranges and indeed much of South Australia.
There are 3 bedrooms on offer here (each with a queen-size bed). But if you needed more room, you could potentially book both bed and breakfasts at the same time.
Somehow, Nigel manages to offer the same level of comfort and attention to detail in Hawker Bed and Breakfast. Guests who enjoy a longer stay in the Flinders Ranges will appreciate the full-sized washer and dryer in addition to the spacious outdoor area, BBQ, and native garden.
Coffee fanatics will love the aforementioned Vittoria coffee (in bean and ground form), chocolate dusting power, cappuccino cream chocolates, and Sunbeam barista-style coffee machine. Note that these are also available in the place next door!
Nigel is often booked out months in advance, so plan ahead. You will not be disappointed.
Bring your furry friends too!
Windana Cottages offers a fabulously peaceful and remote Flinders Ranges experience – except you’re only 2 kilometres out of town.
The property features two semi-detached cottages that are both 2-bedroom and fully self-contained. One bedroom features a queen-sized bed, while the other offers two singles for the kids.
Both cottages also had their bathrooms renovated in 2018 and now feature bidets!
What are some of the other things you’ll like about Windana?
There’s the mandatory split-system aircon for this part of the world, as well as a functional kitchen, barbecue facilities, mobile and WiFi coverage, and continental breakfast on request (extra fee applies).
Windana also offers 360-degree views, supremely dark desert skies, and is close to the popular Castle Rock Lookout. As an avid hiker, I also appreciate that the owners leave a snake bite kit in case of emergency.
Prices very much depend on the season and the length of your stay:
- One-night stays – $180 per night
- Two to six-night stays – $160 per night
- Stays of a week or more – $140 per night.
All rates are for 2 people, with extra guests charged at $30 per night. Blankets, pillows, quilts, and towels are provided.
Flinders Bush Retreats
Looking for a slice of luxury and serenity just a short drive out of Hawker? Flinders Bush Retreats may be just the ticket.
Set on an 11,000-acre property 10-20 minutes east of town, the McInnis family offers 4.5-star accommodation in two renovated homesteads. There is also bush camping on-site and eco-tent glamping for those who desire something in between.
Below is a more detailed look at what they offer.
Mt Scott Homestead
Mt Scott Homestead is a self-contained boutique farm stay that can accommodate as many as 6 people.
Clean, comfortable, and tastefully renovated, the homestead makes you want to spend most of your time inside. Doubly so if you’re there over the cooler months and want to fire up the combustion heater.
But the great outdoors beckons, nonetheless, and this is what guests enjoy the most. The firepit with log seating is clearly a winner, but so too is the generous verandah and outdoor seating area on warmer evenings.
The homestead offers three bedrooms, and you may have to draw straws to see who stays in the main bedroom with ensuite, deep bath, and sublime rural vistas of Mt. Scott and Willow Creek.
Rates for Mt Scott Homestead are $455 per night for up to 4 people. Additional guests incur a $50 charge and there is a minimum 3-night duration for all bookings (4 during school holidays).
The homestead is 5 kilometres from the owner’s place and 21 kilometres east of Hawker. If you’d like to stay somewhere a bit closer to town, consider this next option instead.
The Quarters is a 4-bedroom guesthouse with a large, open-plan living area and full kitchen. Of the 4 bedrooms, two offer queen-sized beds while the other two are twin shared with 2 singles.
Like Mt Scott Homestead, The Quarters provides all linen in addition to a washing machine, BBQ, and campfire pit. There’s also a playground for the kids and a TV, DVD, and Bluetooth speaker setup to keep them occupied.
The Quarters is just 14 kilometres from Hawker and 200 metres from the owner’s homestead. It can be booked for $375 per night for up to 4 people, with extras incurring a $25 per person per night charge.
Maximum occupancy is strictly 8 persons, and The Quarters is subject to the same minimum booking rules as Mt Scott Homestead.
Flinders Bush Retreats also offers a glamping option that was designed to have minimal impact on the environment. The so-called “Eco Tent” is situated on a small rise surrounded by some of the most ancient rocks in the Flinders Ranges.
It’s a special place, to be sure. There’s been at least one marriage proposal there, but for most, the tent is part of a digital detox which tends to include appreciation of the local flora and fauna.
At $260 per night twin share, this is a true glamping experience with a price tag to match. However, there’s everything you need for a more than comfortable stay. The bespoke queen size is made with quality linen and, for those cold nights, is adorned with an Australian wool blanket.
There’s also a kitchenette, BBQ, and ensuite with gas hot water and a composting toilet. Please note that there is no 240 V electricity and as such, household appliances cannot be used. There is, however, a small solar system to run the fridge.
The Eco Tent is situated in Willow Waters Gorge, around 21 kilometres from Hawker and 6 kilometres from the owner’s residence.
Also nestled in Willow Waters Gorge are 6 unpowered camp sites with each allocated based on a traveller’s size requirements. These sites are for hardcore campers or those who don’t mind going without washing for a few days. That is to say, no showers or toilets are provided!
Pets are allowed, but the owners ask that you mention it when booking because there may be baits on their property. Please leave your firearms, chainsaws, and unregistered motorbikes at home.
Homely Cottage is located in the Hawker town square and, in fact, is almost directly opposite the aforementioned Flinders Ranges Bed and Breakfast.
The cottage is on the smaller side with just 2 bedrooms (one with a double bed, the other with 2 singles) and 1 bathroom. But what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in cleanliness, charm, and comfort.
You must also enjoy several nice touches like free Netflix, Wi-Fi, and a helpful welcome email with advice on where to eat and what to see.
Pets are permitted upon request, but you may have a pay a small fee for the privilege. Twin-share prices for Homely Cottage are variable but tend to be in the $190 to $200 per night range.
Hawker Caravan Park
Hawker Caravan Park is the only caravan park in Hawker, and it’s a good one.
Located on the outskirts of town off Wilpena road, the park owners are friendly, helpful, and accommodating. They’re not the sort of owners who will put you next to someone else if they can avoid it and, by many accounts, are working hard to improve the overall park experience.
Hawker Caravan Park is unpretentious and may be quite dusty if it hasn’t rained in a while, but remember that you’re in the desert. Oh, and there’s also a pool if that makes any difference!
In terms of accommodation itself, various cabins are available for travelling parties of different sizes:
- 2 berth cabin – a motel-style, open plan room with queen bed, ensuite, kitchenette, TV, and aircon. You’ll pay about $149 per night in the low summer season and more like $165 in winter.
- 3 berth cabin – similar to a 2 berth cabin but with a larger living room and two separate bedrooms (one with a queen and the other with a single). $179 per night twin share over peak winter season.
- 4 berth cabin – an economic option for 2 couples. The first bedroom has a queen, the second, a double. Not suitable for children or infants. $184 per night twin share, or $224 per night for 4 persons.
- 6 berth cabin – with a larger kitchen and separate rear bedroom with twin bunk sets for the children and a double bed in the main living area. Rates start at $165 per night for 2 persons.
- Cottage – this is Hawker Caravan Park’s fully self-contained option with three bedrooms (1 with queen bed, 1 with double, and the last with a single bunk over double bed base). Other features include a lounge and dining area, an outside BBQ, and space for a campfire. Rates start at $270 per night.
Ensuite, powered and unpowered sites
For those with a caravan, campervan, or tent, there are ensuite sites available for $59/night. These are a great compromise between unpowered camping and a cabin – particularly if you’re tenting it.
You can also camp with or without power in Hawker Caravan Park. Powered sites ($39/night) are generally compacted gravel and the level of dustiness will very much depend on whether there’s been recent rain. Well-situated mallee eucalypts also provide adequate shade at different times of day.
Unpowered sites are also available for $35/night, with some quite a way from the facilities and offering great views of the surrounding plains and mountains. What’s more, there are also limited drive-through sites for a hassle-free set-up.
Park facilities for all guests include a swimming pool, playground, camp kitchen (with fireplace and TV), undercover picnic area, and gas refills.
Built in 1883 and located very near Hawker’s main attractions, Meaney’s Rest is a historic cottage that has been exquisitely renovated.
It has the most wonderful solid jarrah floor and sandstone fireplace in addition to a sweeping verandah, jukebox, and three spacious bedrooms.
Now for the details.
There is 1 bathroom and three bedrooms in the cottage. Two of the bedrooms have double beds and in the third there is a double bed and a single. There’s also a second living area or rumpus room and fast Wi-Fi throughout. The latter powers the Google Home device in each bedroom plus whatever else you want.
Outside, take advantage of the outdoor dining area with a table, a small barbie, an outdoor bar, and laundry with powder supplied. There’s also an extra outside toilet should you need it.
Meaney’s Rest feels like a home away from home and is a place where you’d never be wanting for anything. In fact, more than one person has said that the place is better equipped than their own house.
The small touches matter to owners Kevin and Vicky – whether that be complimentary bathrobes and slippers, a welcome packet of Tim-Tams, or the well-stocked fridge and coffee selection.
It may come as no surprise that Meaney’s Rest is at the higher end of accommodation in Hawker. But not exorbitantly so. Prices for May 2024, for example, hover at around $266 per night for 2 adults.
Sunset Ridge is another addition to Hawker’s growing list of luxury homestay accommodation.
Located about 4 kilometres NW of the town near the impressive Yourambulla Range, Sunset Ridge and its country homestead “Rockville” sits on a property adjacent to a farm owned by merino farmers Saul and Louise.
Like Meaney’s Rest, Rockville is well-equipped and its interior is a pleasing marriage of modern comforts and traditional features.
Where Rockville differs, of course, is location. You’ll have majestic views of the range behind you as well as the plain Hawker sits on and other mountains to the northwest. The sense of space here is incredible.
Rockville offers four bedrooms – three with a large double bed and the fourth with two singles. It has everything else you’d expect: a flat-screen TV, dishwasher, functional kitchen, dishwasher, and towels and bed linen are provided.
The privilege of staying in Rockville will not come cheap. Prices in the off-season are $400 per night for 2 people, with extra guests incurring a $100 per night charge.
This Flinders Ranges luxury stay is marginally more expensive in the busier winter months.
Arkaba is definitely not located in Hawker, but I’m including it on this list anyway because it is only around 15 minutes north of the town.
Arkaba started as a sheep station in 1851 and initially incorporated the adjacent Rawnsley Park Station. One early visitor was the tough-as-nails explorer John McDouall Stuart who passed through on his monumental trek to Darwin and back on foot.
The station continued to run sheep (and sometimes dabble in wheat) for the next 150 years or so. It changed ownership several times in the early 2000s before it was completely destocked in 2014.
Today, Arkaba is run as a wildlife conservancy with guided tours and accommodation offered in the original homestead.
In my humble opinion, it’s probably in the most interesting part of the central Flinders Ranges if you love mountains, scenic vistas, conservation, and habitat restoration.
You can almost touch the precipitous peaks of the Elder Range and Wilpena Pound, but if you have a phobia of heights, there are plenty of gorges and creek beds to explore also.
Arkaba’s luxury accommodation
Pleasingly, the homestead’s original layout has been preserved – but it is more luxury lodge than pastoral outpost nowadays.
Inside there are four bedrooms with each having its own private ensuite and shaded verandah where guests can immerse themselves in the bush.
Each room has been designed with comfort and a good night’s sleep in mind, and guests can also mingle in the shared library space or settle into a leather armchair with a good book and glass of wine. If the latter doesn’t keep you warm, the stone fireplace definitely will!
While the accommodation is first-rate, the food and wine is even better. In keeping with its conservation and sustainability philosophy, Arkaba sources local native ingredients for its menu items where possible and has a team of private chefs prepare the meals.
We’re talking about mouth-watering pork from the Murraylands region of SA with a sticky quandong sauce. Or maybe the Spencer Gulf kingfish and coconut ceviche dish is more to your taste?
All meals can be enjoyed outdoors on the terrace with views of distant and not-so-distant peaks. There’s also an open bar with a more than respectable selection of Australian beers, wines, and spirits. In fact, all the wines in Arkaba’s impressive cellar are South Australian
Need more privacy? There is also a fifth bedroom in the Coachman’s Cottage, which is situated in the garden of the homestead and is ideal for couples.
All-inclusive rates vary according to the season:
- Off-peak (winter 2024, November, and February 2025) – $1,995 per night, twin share. An additional swag bed can be added for one child between 12 and 17 years for $2,520.
- Shoulder season – (September, October, December 2024 & January 2025) – $2,395 per night twin share, or $2,920 per night with one child.
- Peak (April and May 2024 & March 2025) – $2,695 per night, twin share, or $3,220 per night with one child.
The Arkaba Experience
Arkaba promotes itself as a fully hosted, fully guided experience where the all-inclusive rates cover meals, drinks, and a host of activities such as hiking, 4WD safaris, native wildlife tracking, and Aboriginal site visitation.
These activities are held at certain times of the day and guests cannot simply wander about the property as they please.
There’s also a set menu and some may find the portion sizes on the smaller side. If you value your independence on a stay then you may want to look elsewhere for accommodation in Hawker or at other Flinders Ranges station stays.
A word to the technologically tethered
There are no telephones or televisions in Arkaba. Ditto for WiFi.
The focus here is on the experience, a little bit of adventure if you so desire, and most of all, a chance to refresh and rejuvenate the soul.
Expect also to interact with the other guests and staff – particularly in the communal dining areas and/or during a guided walk or tour.
Outback Chapmanton Hotel
Located next door to the Hawker Caravan Park is the Outback Chapmanton Hotel.
With 14 motel rooms and 10 holiday units, the Outback Chapmanton Hotel is one of the cheaper options in Hawker. But there’s good value here.
Each of the three-star motel rooms can be booked by parties of up to four, and each features aircon, ensuite, TV, and all the stuff you need to make tea and coffee. Note that all rooms have a queen and single bed combo and are serviced daily.
Prices for a 2-night stay are $145 per night for 1 person or $150 for 2 people. Extras are charged $15 per night, and if you only need a place for the night, there’s also an additional $5 per room charge.
Outback Chapmanton’s holiday units
Located some 500 metres away from the motel rooms are 10 self-contained holiday units. These units are dated but do offer a full kitchen, bathroom, living and dining area, and two separate bedrooms. There is also reverse cycle air conditioning and communal laundry facilities.
Prices for a 2-night stay are $165 per night for 1 person or $175 per night twin share. Extra persons are $15 per night. Unlike the motel rooms, there is a strict two-night minimum stay policy.