Wilpena Pound is one Flinders Ranges attraction that should not be missed! It is the sort of place you fall in love with at first sight and then
discover that your life will never be the same again.
The name of the mountainous, oval-shaped feature is a combination of the Adnyamathanha term for “meeting place” (Wilpena), and an old English term for a livestock enclosure encircled by stone walls (Pound).
There are several such formations in the Flinders Ranges (such as Illinawortina Pound in the Gammon Ranges and Horseshoe Pound further south), but none are as spectacular or accessible as Wilpena Pound.
In this guide, I’ll list pretty much everything there is to do at Wilpena Pound.
Scroll to the bottom (or use the contents) to see a list of FAQs about Wilpena Pound at the conclusion.
But first, the attractions.
Hike to the summit of St. Mary Peak
St. Mary Peak (1188 m) is the highest mountain in the Flinders Ranges and the 8
th highest in South Australia.
It is not a particularly high mountain by world (or even Australian) standards, but what St. Mary Peak does have is prominence.
The summit is almost 700 metres above the surrounding terrain and the almost perpendicular cliff face below the summit is easily recognizable on the drive into Wilpena Pound Resort.
The walk is difficult, to say the least, and there is some minor scrambling near the top.
But you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views that include all the mountains that constitute Wilpena Pound. You’ll also have a great view of the Elder Range and the ABC Range as it snakes off into the blue haze of the distance.
Can you climb to the summit?
St. Mary Peak is central to the Adnyamathanha creation story and as such, they prefer that hikers do not hike to the summit and stop at Tanderra Saddle instead. The view from Tanderra Saddle is still excellent and you still will burn many calories on the way up.
Both the direct and route loops are closed over the hot summer months.
In terms of the best Wilpena Pound walks, St. Mary Peak has to be near the top.
But it is a strenuous endeavour that will not suit everyone.
For those who want great views without quite as much effort, try the Mount Ohlssen Bagge hike or either of the two viewpoints on the Wangara Lookout Hike near Hills Homestead.
More information on
Wilpena Pound hikes and walks can be found here. Grab a coffee and relax on the deck
One of my favourite rituals at Wilpena Pound is to grab a coffee at the IGA and drink it out on the deck overlooking Wilpena Creek.
It’s a good spot to soak up some sunshine, listen to the wind caress the treetops, or people-watch and observe hikers as they set off for a walk with enthusiasm.
While you’re there, stop in at the visitor centre to talk to the friendly staff about current conditions and the like.
You will need to check in here anyway if you’ve booked a campsite at Wilpena Pound Resort or need to purchase a national park pass.
Walk inside Wilpena Pound via Hills Homestead walk
No one should visit Wilpena Pound without doing the Hills Homestead walk.
Starting from the trailhead near the IGA, the walk follows Wilpena Creek for 2 kilometres. Along the way, enormous eucalypts loom overhead to your left while red cliffs start to close in on your right.
Once you cross Wilpena Creek, you’ll reach a beautiful pond which is the perfect place to stop for a rest or a quick bite to eat. Look out for red-capped robins and other small birds that call this oasis home.
The trail then splits off in two at the shuttle bus car park.
The lower track follows Wilpena Creek via Pound Gap – one of only two natural entrances to the Pound – and then crosses the creek before entering a river red gum forest.
This area is amazing to behold and one of the few places in Australia where you can see
Eucalyptus camuldulensis in such dense stands.
The top track, on the other hand, is more exposed and requires a tad more exertion. But it does offer great views of Sliding Rock (a large slab of titled rock) and if you’re lucky, you might see any number of reptile species sunning themselves.
Look up and you may also spot a wedge-tailed eagle riding the thermals.
Tip: enter the pound via the top track in the cool of the morning and then return via the lower track in the afternoon. Vice versa if you plan to start later in the day.
Hills Homestead is the former home of the Hills family who settled in the area in 1899. Their interesting story is told on new signage that has recently been installed, but unfortunately, you cannot enter the homestead itself.
Still, it’s a nice building to admire from the outside and there are also various pieces of antique farm equipment on display.
Near the homestead, there are also tables and chairs and two toilets. It’s a beautiful place to rest a while, enjoy some lunch, or refuel before you tackle the Wangarra Lookout hike. More on the latter below!
Tackle the Wangarra Lookout hike
The Wangarra Lookout hike starts at the foot of the hill behind the Hills Homestead.
Just look for the rock carving of two Aboriginal men.
It’s a short and moderately steep 150-metre hike to the first lookout and another 450 metres or so to the second.
Both lookouts have viewing platforms with bench seating and offer a unique perspective of the open woodland on the floor of Wilpena Pound. At the second lookout, you’ll also have a better view of Pound Gap and the way you walked in.
From the trailhead and incorporating the Hills Homestead walk, budget for around 3 to 3.5 hours return depending on your fitness level and which of the lookouts you want to visit.
Take to the skies in a plane or helicopter
One of the best ways to appreciate Wilpena Pound and the surrounding topography is from the air. There are two options here.
Wrightsair operates from an airstrip near Wilpena Pound Resort with several options available.
20-minute (adults $225, children (aged 4-12) $172)
The 20-minute flight is a short (but no less spectacular) trip over Wilpena Pound with wonderful views of Elder Range, Edeowie Gorge at the far end of the Pound, Lake Torrens, and Heysen Range.
30-minute (adults $265, children (aged 4-12) $200
The half-hour flight visits the above landforms and also incorporates Bunyeroo and Brachina Gorge.
1-hour (adults $400, children (aged 4-12) $330
The one hour option is a comprehensive Flinders Ranges extravaganza that includes Wilpena Pound, Parachilna, Parachilna Gorge, Blinman, the desolate western salt plains, and Bunkers Range.
A minimum of two people per booking is required for each flight and full commentary is provided along the way.
Infants aged 3 and under ride free, which is just as well because most wouldn’t appreciate the view anyway!
There is also a maximum weight limit of 120 kg per passenger.
Scenic flights from Rawnsley Park
Chinta Air also operates from Rawnsley Park station on the opposite side of Wilpena Pound. The company covers the same Flinders Ranges attractions as Wrightsair, but they do offer more flexibility.
20-minute ($190 per adult) – the best way to appreciate Wilpena Pound from all her glorious angles.
Refer to the black line on the map below.
30-minute ($220 per adult) – the most popular option which adds Bunyeroo Gorge, Brachina Gorge, Heysen Range, and much of the national park itself.
Refer to the yellow line.
45-minute ($300 per adult) – as above, with another 15 minutes over the Heysen Range and Parachilna Gorge.
Refer to the red line.
60-minute ($400 per adult) – similar to the Wrightsair 1-hour flight. One key difference here is that Chinta spends more time over the national park than they do the western plains.
Refer to the blue line.
Note that for all options, children between 3 and 13 ride for half the ticketed adult price on any flight with at least 2 adults.
Chinta’s route map Ride a chopper over Wilpena Pound
If you’re mildly phobic of light planes, consider a helicopter ride from Rawnsley Park between the months of mid-March and October. This service is currently run in partnership with Helistar.
Your first option is to take a 10, 20, or 30-minute sightseeing flight that covers Wilpena Pound and, depending on the duration, attractions further afield such as Bunyeroo and Brachina Gorge.
Prices start at $160 per person for the ten-minute option which takes you to the top of Rawnsley Bluff.
Drinks and nibbles on Chace Range
The other, more unique experience is to take a helicopter to the top of the Chace Range.
One option is to spend an hour at the Chace Lookout and watch the sunset with drinks and nibbles with 20 minutes of flying time.
Alternatively, make the same trip early in the morning and enjoy a fully cooked breakfast as you watch the sun reveal the splendour of the plains and mountains.
Both the sundowner option and breakfast option are $415 per person (minimum 2 persons).
Perhaps the pick of the bunch, however, is the heli-camping experience.
Heli-camping on Chace Range
This is how it works.
First, the helicopter flies you past Wilpena Pound and Rawnsley Bluff before it lands on the Chace Range.
Staff will then set up your swag and campsite for the night and leave you with a 2-course meal that you prepare at a time of your choosing.
In the morning after you’ve slept peacefully under the stars, you can prepare a cooked breakfast (supplied) as golden hour reveals Wilpena Pound, Elder Range, and Ulowdna Range.
A helicopter will then be sent to return you to Rawnsley Park.
Heli-camping is available every night of the year if the weather is suitable.
The cost is $795 per adult (minimum 2 persons).
Drape yourself in a blanket of stars
The Flinders Ranges night sky is something to behold and, if we’re honest, it’s not hard to find a dark, peaceful spot with unimpeded views of the night sky.
But if you’re camping in Wilpena Pound Resort and don’t much feel like venturing out somewhere, might I make a recommendation?
Make the short walk up a small hill that overlooks the campground. There, you’ll be afforded terrific views of the sky silhouetted by the Pound and various other peaks.
This is a must-do experience!
Directions to the hill are a little hard to describe because it’s an unofficial attraction, if you catch my drift.
But here goes anyway.
Drive through the creek after the visitor centre and turn right at the fork.
Continue around to the right for 200 metres or so and immediately in front of you will be a small gap in the fence where the Heysen trail continues to Bunyeroo Gorge and beyond.
At the gap in the fence, turn immediately left and follow the fence for around 100 metres. Eventually, you’ll see a rocky, well-worn path leading up to the top of the hill.
Truth be told, it’s a beautiful spot day or night, and there’s even a classic lone pine on the summit for shade and photography.
Marvel at the Cazneaux tree
If Wilpena Pound is emblematic of the Flinders Ranges, then the Cazneaux tree is emblematic of Wilpena Pound.
It’s a popular place with photographers and anyone else looking for that picture postcard shot of the ancient, gnarled river red gum with the Pound as its backdrop.
Cazneaux Tree was made famous by photographer Harold Cazneaux, the grandfather of legendary Australian explorer Dick Smith.
The tree – which is anywhere between 500 and 1,000 years old – is a testament to survival, resilience, and endurance.
It is clear to even the most casual observers that the eucalypt has experienced periods of drought and re-growth after rain.
Every time I visit, the roots seem ever more exposed with each flash flood event in the adjacent creek.
On a related note, torrential rain washed away the bridge access to the tree in January 2021 and the interpretive sign has seen better days.
But you’ll be happy to know that the bridge has now been rebuilt and new signs enhancing the interpretive experience are on the way.
Experience yesteryear at Old Wilpena Station
The Flinders Ranges National Park was established in 1970, but before that, the land that now occupies the national park covered two stations: Wilpena and Oraparinna.
Nestled between the northern end of the Pound and the ABC Range, the State-Heritage-listed Old Wilpena Station is definitely worth an hour or two of your time.
It’s an important part of Wilpena Pound’s history and quite often, you’ll have the place to yourself.
Numerous well-preserved pastoral buildings are spread out over a large plain interspersed with pines and eucalypts.
In fact, the station contains the most complete assortment of early station buildings surviving in South Australia today.
Living with Land Walk
To experience Old Wilpena Station, follow the 3.2-kilometre self-guided loop with interpretive information about the station’s infrastructure.
The loop, dubbed the Living With Land Walk, is free to walk yourself.
But you can also pay for a guided tour if you want to delve into the station’s history from the perspective of the Adnyamathanha people (Yura).
For a 2-hour, $47 guided tour, a local Yura guide will tell the story of how Aboriginal and European cultures intertwined in those early years.
There is also much to learn about the native flora and fauna in the area.
Like the Cazneaux tree, Old Wilpena Station’s story is very much about survival and self-sufficiency with some good old-fashioned improvisation in the mix.
What’s great about this place is that you can look inside most buildings and get a feel for colonial life in the Flinders Ranges. You can even walk inside some of the structures and observe their contents up close.
Some of the most interesting structures include the 2-storey stone shop with rat-proof shelves, the blacksmith’s cottage, and the authentic pug and pine hut built in 1853.
The original station homestead and its garden are also well worth a look. However, I always feel a little awkward getting too close because the building is used by national parks staff.
The turn-off for Old Wilpena Station is on the Hawker-Wilpena road about 1.5 kilometres from the visitor centre on the left.
From there, follow the signs to the car park and enjoy!
Spot some classic Australian wildlife
Yeah, okay, so you’re likely to see numerous native Australian critters without even trying in the Flinders Ranges.
But here are a few tips on how to maximize both the diversity and frequency of your animal sightings.
Kangaroos, euros, and yellow-footed rock wallabies
Our macropod friends are especially active on the Blinman road near Willow Springs and Appealinna Ruins at dusk. Sometimes they’re pretty thick on the ground near Hucks Lookout and all the way back to Wilpena.
Macropods are more prevalent at dusk and in dry years, whereas in wetter years they seem less attracted to the road and are conspicuous in their absence.
Having said that, campers at Wilpena Pound resort may be awoken to the sound of a kangaroo eating a loaf of bread in your tent vestibule.
Yellow-footed rock wallabies can be spotted on the St. Mary Peak hike at higher elevations in general. From my experience, however, it’s unusual to see them outside of hot spots like Brachina Gorge.
Birds, lots of birds
I often hear whistling kites in Wilpena Creek near the campground throughout the day.
If you walk a little way along the Heysen trail near there, you will sometimes see myriad welcome swallows darting in and out of insect swarms. You may also see the archetypal ring-necked parrot perched on a half-dead wattle.
Hordes of apostlebirds (my favourite) also frequent the campground in their search for a crumb or tasty morsel that has dropped from a BBQ plate.
They will quickly announce their presence with a trill-like call and gregarious nature, and are so named because they like to move in packs of 12 (give or take).
Planning to have a sausage sizzle for dinner?
If there are yellow-throated miners around, watch out! They’ve been known to dislodge a snag from a piece of bread right under one’s noise and disappear in a flash.
On the aforementioned Hills Homestead walk, you may also see variegated fairy-wrens, treecreepers, red-capped robins, and a host of other small birds that are hard to identify.
Spend some time on this walk to sit, observe, and be rewarded handsomely.
Wedge-tailed eagles are Australia’s largest bird of prey and these magnificent birds deserve their own section.
Any time you see roadkill there is a reasonable chance a wedgie may be nearby.
Approach slowly if you want to observe or grab a photo as they are quite skittish and, with their head often buried in a carcass, are not immediately obvious from a distance.
Otherwise, they’re visible soaring on thermals hundreds of metres above the ground. Likewise for other birds of prey like brown falcons, black kites, and the Australian hobby.
It used to be uncommon to see emus around Wilpena Pound, but they are more frequently spotted these days. It is always a pleasure to see one or both parents with a brood of six or seven juveniles in tow.
Emus are sometimes spotted across the creek from Cazneaux tree in the vicinity of the turnoff for Sacred Canyon, but they seem to turn up in the most random of places.
Another hot spot seems to be 10 or 20 kilometres south of Blinman on the bitumen road. Please drive with care here as a result.
If I’m perfectly frank, I’ve only ever seen two snakes in over 30 years of camping in the Flinders Ranges.
While you’re unlikely to see one, never assume that you won’t. And know the risks of walking in long grass with sandals, for example.
Near Sliding Rock on the Hills Homestead walk, you may be treated to a bearded dragon, tawny dragon, or red-barred dragon.
On rare occasions, you may spot a sand goanna. But if not, you’ll no doubt experience the hundreds of small skinks that dart off through the undergrowth and have you believe they’re snakes.
Echidnas are shy, mostly solitary animals that move silently through the bush and are thus difficult to spot.
Look out for them on the Sacred Canyon walk (only accessible as part of a tour) as well as in dry creek beds and hill slopes near substantial ant populations.
Western quoll (Idnya) and brushtail possum (Virlda)
Never in a million years did I think western quolls would be seen again in the Flinders Ranges, but here we are.
After a 75-year absence in the national park, a small population of the small carnivorous marsupial was reintroduced in 2014.
The native quoll population has done well since and somehow managed to survive the extremely dry period of 2018 and 2019. If you’re really lucky, you might find one wandering through Wilpena Pound Resort or in the adjacent campground.
Though not a popular creature with everyone – brushtail possums are another Flinders Ranges success story. Seventy-nine individuals were introduced in 2015 after a similar decades-long absence.
Like their urban counterparts, brushtail possums can be found in large eucalypts that line the Wilpena Creek and other waterways around Wilpena Pound.
Hike to Arkaroo Rock (Akurra Adyna)
Arkaroo Rock is a short hike that packs a lot of punch. The 3.2-kilometre, 2-hour loop is one of the best in the area for several reasons.
For one, it takes you steadily up the south-eastern escarpment of the Pound and offers unique and spectacular views of Chace Range.
The walk also passes through several different vegetation communities and periodically crosses small creeks that babble quietly in the background after rain.
At the most elevated section of the trail are some massive boulders that have presumably weathered and fallen from higher up.
What most people come to see on the Arkaroo Rock hike is undoubtedly the Aboriginal rock art.
The well-preserved ochre and charcoal paintings depict the creation story of Wilpena Pound and are estimated to be more than 5,000 years old.
Some suggest that the art is best viewed in the early morning with the sun shining on it, but it is also ideal in the afternoon when the shade really brings out the subtle colours and tones.
Arkaroo Walk is one of several sites in the Flinders Ranges to recently underwent renovations.
Toilets, picnic tables, and interpretive signs were added to the car park area in late 2021, and there are also plans to build a new viewing area and interpretive facilities at the site of the art.
Explore Wilpena Pound on two-wheels
Keen to experience the area around Wilpena Pound on a mountain bike? You’ll be happy to know that you have several options at your disposal. One of the most leisurely is an out-and-back trail to Old Wilpena Station from the resort.
Bikes can be hired from the visitor information centre with rates of $20 per hour, $35 for a half day, or $65 for a full day. Each option includes a helmet.
Please also note that for better or worse, you cannot ride into Wilpena Pound itself.
Flinders Ranges By Bike (FRBB) trail
The more serious (read fit) riders are also catered for with the Flinders Ranges By Bike (FRBB) trail.
This 200-kilometre adventure loop passes through the national park as well as Willow Springs Station, Rawnsley Park, and Gum Creek Station near Blinman.
The FRBB is a mixture of station tracks, fire tracks, single trails, dirt roads, and a very short section on the bitumen.
But what’s more important is that it links major accommodation options in the area and enables you to access parts of the Flinders Ranges that are closed to the general public.
The Rawnsley Park to Willow Springs section is 73 kilometres and incorporates unsealed roads, station tracks, and part of Mawson Trail.
You’ll have to climb about 200 metres over the duration, but there are plenty of attractions to see on the way like Appealinna Ruins and Pugilist Hill. Do the entire ride in a day or over two days with an overnighter at Wilpena.
The 55-kilometre section between Gum Creek and Wilpena is arguably the most beautiful with a 15-kilometre uphill section near the end that’ll really test your lungs.
Before then, however, you’ll briefly follow the Brachina Gorge Geological Trial before ticking Razorback Lookout off your list.
Conditions of FRBB access
Due to the remoteness of the trail, it is not possible to ride alone.
While two riders are permitted, it is recommended that a minimum of three riders travel together in the event one is injured.
There’s also no indiscriminate camping along the trail. You must stay in approved accommodation and camping areas at the aforementioned places.
Check out the various other terms and conditions related to equipment, outback safety, and the like on the
FRBB’s official website. FRBB tours
Escapegoat Adventures is a South Australian business that offers fully guided and supported experiences on the FRBB.
They’ll pick you and your bike up in Adelaide and transport it all to the Flinders where you’ll mostly stay at the Willow Springs Shearers Quarters.
Escapegoat also provides a qualified guide for the entirety of the loop, all meals except lunch on the first and last day, and daily vehicle transfers to and from the trail.
You can also rent a bike from them if you don’t have your own ($200 for hardtails, or $300 for dual suspension with all spares included).
On the way back to Adelaide there is also a stopover in the mountain bike-friendly town of Melrose with time made for an extra morning ride.
Groups must have a minimum of 4 people to book, and the price per person for 4-6 people is $2450 per person.
For groups of 6 or more, the price drops to $1950 per person.
Other Wilpena Pound hikes
The vast majority of hikes in the Flinders Ranges start from the Wilpena Pound resort trailhead.
To find the trailhead, walk to the end of the deck outside the IGA and continue straight ahead until you find the shelter and log book.
It is recommended that you leave your details in the book (particularly if you’re undertaking a longer walk like St. Mary Peak, Mt. Ohlssen-Bagge, or Malloga Falls).
Here are some additional hikes for all ages and abilities.
Boom and Bust Hike (2 km loop, 1.5 hours return)
This is an educational, family-friendly hike with interpretive information on how plants survive periods of drought and flood.
The loop trail is spectacular when wildflowers are out but honestly, it is worth a look at any time of year.
Mount Ohlssen Bagge (6.4 km, 4 hours return)
I like to think of Mt Ohlssen Bagge as St. Mary Peak lite.
The summit is roughly the same elevation as Tanderra Saddle, but the ascent feels easier and the views are just as breath-taking.
Malloga Falls (23.2 km, 9 hours return)
Malloga Falls is a lengthy hike through the northern section of Wilpena Pound’s interior lands you at Malloga Falls inside Edeowie Gorge.
The falls only run after rain and are best seen in the warmer months when there is also sufficient daylight to complete the hike.
Once you arrive at Malloga Falls, you’ll be at the northernmost end of Wilpena Pound.
This area is unfrequented by visitors and if you want to venture further into Edeowie Gorge toward two other waterfalls, you’ll need to be as sure-footed as a mountain goat and a competent navigator.
Rawnsley Bluff (11.3 km, 5 hours return)
Rawnsley Bluff is a less prominent mountain on Wilpena Pound but still worth the effort (especially if you’re staying at Rawnsley Park Station).
The summit has the best views of Elder Range in all the Flinders and there is also the option to shorten the hike by turning around at Wilpena Pound Lookout.
There is also an optional detour to Ferntree Falls – one of many private walking trails on the station itself. A beautiful half-day walk with only a few scrambles and steep sections!
Read about these walks (and others)
in more detail. Where is Wilpena Pound?
Wilpena Pound is wedged between Rawnsley Park Station to the west and Wilpena Pound Resort to the east.
It is located at the southern end of Flinders Ranges National Park.
The distance from Adelaide to Wilpena Pound depends on which of the three main routes you take from the south.
In truth, there isn’t much difference in distance or time between the three. Instead, it is more about what you want to see on the way.
Have a look at these routes from Adelaide to find out which suits you best.
The coastal route – 461 km, 5 hours 10 minutes
On the coastal route, follow National Highway A1 for around 3 hours before turning right onto the Flinders Ranges Way at Stirling North.
This is an ideal route if you want to stop at Mambray Creek (Mount Remarkable National Park) or the small city of Port Augusta to grab supplies on the way.
The coastal route is the busiest of the three presented here and there isn’t a ton to see until you get north of Port Pirie.
However, it is the only route that incorporates the splendidly scenic drive from Stirling North to Quorn via Pichi Richi Pass.
You’ll also have an unimpeded view of the Flinders Ranges as they rise from a series of small hills near Crystal Book and transform into steeper, more angular peaks near Port Augusta.
The inland route – 462 km, 5 hours 25 minutes
On the inland route, take the M2 (Northern Expressway) to bypass Gawler and then head up the Horrocks Highway (B82) to Wilmington and then Quorn.
Beyond Quorn, it’s another 90 minutes or so to Wilpena Pound.
The advantage of the inland route is that you can stop off in both the Clare Valley wine region and the Southern Flinders Ranges on the way. Think Laura, Melrose, Stone Hut, and Wilmington.
After Clare, the road is generally in good condition and is much less frequented than the coastal route which carries a lot of traffic to the outback and Eyre Peninsula.
The even more inland route – 438 km, 5 hours 5 minutes.
Instead of following the Horrocks Highway after Clare, turn right onto RM Williams Way (B80) around 15 minutes north of the town.
This route takes you through the glorious scenery of the eastern Mid-North and becomes markedly drier as you exit the agricultural area north of Orroroo and enter the drier, pastoral areas of the Flinders Ranges.
My favourite part is the section between Eurelia (with its spooky old pub) and Cradock (with its well-rated, still open pub).
This route was made more attractive about 20 years ago after the B80 was sealed all the way to the junction just south of Hawker.
Note that the above distances for all routes were calculated from the Adelaide CBD to Wilpena Pound Resort.
Subtract 25 km or so for a route to Rawnsley Park station instead.
Now let us take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about Wilpena Pound.
How was Wilpena Pound formed?
When you travel, you invariably strike up conversations with others and compare notes and experiences. On at least two occasions, I’ve been told that Wilpena Pound is the result of a meteor impact.
One other time I was admiring the view from one of the Wangarra lookouts when tried his best to convince me that it was the crater of an ancient volcano.
While these explanations are exciting and undoubtedly a good conversation starter, the reality, as with many things in life, is far less intriguing and more difficult to comprehend.
Wilpena Pound is but one part of the folded mountain range that makes up the Flinders Ranges.
The Pound itself is comprised of two separate mountain ranges that appear to be connected and, in any case, form a rim of mountains in the shape of an oval.
The sediment that comprises these ranges started to form around 800 million years ago, but was not folded into mountains until around 500 million years later.
At that point, the Flinders Ranges were higher than the Himalayas before a long, slow, steady period of erosion commenced.
Erosion carried away sediment from softer layers of rock, but the erosion-resistant Rawnsley Quartzite layer remained.
This quartzite is responsible for all the peaks of Wilpena Pound today and its red-orange colour has become synonymous with the Flinders Ranges. How else can you get to Wilpena Pound?
Genesis Transport operates a weekly bus service from Adelaide to Copley and back with links to Wilpena Pound and Rawnsley Park.
Chinta Air also flies travellers between Adelaide and Rawnsley Park on request.
For a more budget option, rent a car from any number of locations in Adelaide and make the drive yourself.
How much time do you need?
My advice is to devote at least three nights (preferably four) to Wilpena Pound.
This gives you enough time to enjoy one of the many hikes in the area (and a more leisurely rest day) with another in reserve for a trip to Parachilna, Brachina Gorge, and Bunyeroo Gorge.
Are pets allowed at Wilpena Pound?
Pets are not allowed inside the national park, but you could stay at Rawnsley Park which lies just outside the park boundary and is happy to host you and your pets.
When is the best time to visit?
The best time to visit Wilpena Pound is very much subjective, but most agree that the period between April and October is ideal.
Note that the Pound sits at about 550 metres above sea level and is very cold from about May to September.
Frosts are common in winter and the days are also cool to cold and mostly sunny. Over the colder months, the heat quickly dissipates from the air in the late afternoon as the sun disappears behind the Pound.
This won’t be a problem for those staying at the resort. But the short days and cold nights are something to keep in mind from a comfort and sightseeing perspective.
If average minimums and maximums matter to you,
check out my month-by-month analysis of the best time to visit the Flinders Ranges. What permits do you need?
Wilpena Pound is fully contained within Flinders Ranges National Park, so you’ll need to purchase a vehicle permit to enter ($13 per vehicle, or $10.50 for concession holders).
purchase the permit online or face-to-face at one of several authorised agents across South Australia.
However, if you decide to camp at Wilpena Pound Resort (or anywhere else in the national park) the vehicle entry permit is waived.
There are also
3 and 12-month multi-entry passes so you can come back again and again.
You know you’ll want to.