The government-owned former mining town of Leigh Creek is a shadow of its former self, but the town and surrounding area still have a lot going for them.
Leigh Creek is on the edge of the Flinders Ranges, but it may as well be on the edge of the world. Spectacular beauty abounds and there are plenty to do for a 2 or 3-night stay before you head north into the vast outback or south to the central Flinders.
Leigh Creek accommodation is not as diverse or as numerous as it once was, but there are a few commendable options – especially if you’re willing to consider accommodation in nearby Copley.
Here is a round-up of places to stay in and around the town and the sorts of experiences they offer to travellers who like to venture off the beaten track.
Leigh Creek Outback Resort
The Leigh Creek Outback Resort can be a little hard to find but you’ll invariably be greeted with warm outback hospitality.
The resort offers a range of accommodation types:
Motel rooms offer TV, aircon, tea and coffee making facilities, queen bed and single bed.
Prices start at $145 per night for 2 people and there is no minimum stay.
Older style cabins can also be booked with one double bed and kitchenette.
Prices start at $130 per night, twin share. These are a more spacious alternative to the motel rooms and you can also opt for a twin cabin to accommodate up to 3 persons.
Queen deluxe motel rooms
These are renovated, motel-style accommodation with modern décor and furniture, mini-fridge, toaster, cutlery, desk, and generous ensuite bathroom.
$145 per night for 2 persons.
Family cabins offer two adjoining rooms as opposed to two bedrooms, but they sleep up to five persons. One room has three single beds, while the other has 1 double. Each has its own kitchen and bathroom.
Family cabins are available for $200 per night, twin-share.
What can you expect?
Much of the accommodation at Leigh Creek Outback Resort is dated, but it is clean and comfortable.
The new owner Breyten has recently purchased the hotel from the South Australian Government and has plans to renovate all 80 rooms. This will take some time, so please be patient and give the place a shot!
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are also available in the attached restaurant. The food here is pretty decent and well-priced considering the lack of competition in the town itself.
There is also a convenient petrol station and a modest grocery store on site.
Leigh Creek Outback Caravan Park
The Leigh Creek Caravan Park is also an excellent choice with caretakers Mick and Kori loved by visitors for their friendly, helpful natures. The caravan park exudes peacefulness and you’ll be happy to know that it’s also pet-friendly.
Drive-through powered sites (with water) feature concrete slabs with sufficient space between each to maintain privacy and minimise noise. There is also unpowered camping available on level sites near the creek and surrounded by bush.
Note that the caravan park has recently moved location and is on the smaller side with limited staff. The caretakers are on site between 9-10 am and 2-5 pm each day, so keep this in mind.
Guests have free access to the RV dump point and can also enjoy BBQ facilities and a communal fire pit in the cooler months.
Now let’s take a look at some other options in the Northern Flinders Ranges that are a tiny bit further afield.
Copley Caravan Park
Copley Caravan Park is just 5 kilometres north of Leigh Creek and is a superb alternative to the caravan park mentioned above. Sites are spacious and, while a little dated, the amenities block is clean and functional.
Perhaps more famous than the caravan park is the bakery that doubles as the park’s reception area – the Copley Bush Bakery & Quandong Café.
The tasty coffee is an oasis in the desert, and the same can also be said for the famous meat pies which have won several national awards. The bakery also sells delicious quandong pies and ice cream for those with a sweet tooth.
But back to the accommodation. Copley Caravan Park offers modern, clean cabins in several configurations:
– 2-bedroom family ensuite cabins (4 of these)
– Park cabins (4 of these also), and
– 1-bedroom ensuite cabins (8 of these).
There are also 20 powered and 40 unpowered sites, and Copley Caravan Park also welcomes pets.
Copley Pub (Leigh Creek Hotel)
The Copley Pub is one of the most accommodating pubs you’re likely to come across in the outback.
The beer is cold, the pizza is hot and reasonably priced, and owners Emily and Pete will treat you (and your furry friend) like locals.
Free camping is available behind the pub for patrons, and there is also a fire pit where you can converse with other outback travellers.
Furthermore, there are six caravan sites with concrete slabs and shade plus room for a few more vans or campers.
Power and water is available for $20 and there are also showers and toilets. Laundry facilities are also available at $4 per load and another $2 for the dryer.
For the low low price of $65 per night, you can stay in the hotel too. Rooms are generously sized with a fridge and tea and coffee-making area. Bathrooms are shared but clean.
Iga Warta is located around 65 kilometres north of Leigh Creek and is suited to those who want a more remote, one-of-a-kind cultural experience.
Iga Warta is a 100% Aboriginal-owned and operated venture run by the Coulthard family with accommodation to suit most tastes and budgets.
Safari tents come complete with ensuite bathroom, queen bed, and double bunk. They sleep up to four people and also contain a dining table and television.
Not that you’d need the television, however, with a substantial partially shaded deck ideal for some outdoor rest and relaxation.
Prices start at $150 per night.
Iga Warta’s wood and iron cabins feature a single room with the same bedding configuration as the safari tents.
There is also an ensuite, bar fridge, toaster, microwave, and semi-wrap-around deck.
Prices for the cabins start at $104 per night.
There are also several tents available for hire on the property.
Each is already set up and housed under a shelter with a small verandah out the front and stretcher beds inside. This is a unique idea and one that will no doubt please those who see camp set-up as a chore!
All this can be had for just $18 per person per night.
Iga Warta’s bunkhouses comprise ultra basic accommodation in small wood cabins with access to the communal kitchen and a modern amenities block.
Bunkhouse accommodation can be had for $36 per night.
Lastly, bush camping is available for $11 per person per night and guests can use any of Iga Warta’s facilities (such as the pool, for instance).
Included in this is one of the most modern and attractive amenities blocks you’ll find anywhere on your travels.
Iga Warta’s cultural experience
While Iga Warta’s accommodation has been well received by visitors, I think it is safe to assume that many people stay there because of the cultural aspect.
Cultural attractions include guided tours, workshops, and a native plant nursery.
You can visit Adnyamathanha story sites and learn about the culture’s role in modern society from a woman’s perspective. You can also learn about bush tucker and its use in medicine or visit the small interpretive centre.
Guests can also explore nearby attractions like the Gammon Ranges and Lake Frome on a guided overnight camping tour. In reality, there is a lot to do at Iga Warta and I wouldn’t blame you if you never left the property.
Check out their extensive list of cultural tours and experiences here.
What can you expect at Iga Warta?
Travellers frequently mention the warm welcome, fascinating cultural insights, cultural campfire experience, and beautiful natural surroundings. Go here with curiosity and an open mind and you won’t regret it.
Iga Warta is located about halfway between Copley and Balcanoona in the Northern Flinders Ranges. The road is dirt but is generally accessible by 2WD, but if it has rained then check the road conditions with national parks staff.
As a town, Leigh Creek has seen better days. But the people are resilient and many are proud to provide accommodation for travellers who want to explore the remote and desolate beauty of the area.
Give the Leigh Creek Outback Resort your business for a stay in the town. For something different, try the Copley Pub for a cheaper stay or Iga Warta for an immersive cultural experience.