Wilpena Pound and the Flinders Ranges National Park (4-7+ Days Stay)
Wilpena Pound is a majestic rock formation that is one of most famous landmarks of the South Australian Outback. With a number of excellent facilities including camping ground and a resort, Wilpena Pound makes an excellent base from which to see the rest of the Flinders Ranges National Park. The National Park is rich in natural history and the early heritage of South Australia and deserves serious contemplation before deciding how long to stay there to make sure you see and experience as many of the awe inspiring sights as possible.
Wilpena Pound itself is best enjoyed by following the bushwalking trails - a brochure for which is available from Wilpena Pound Visitor Centre with details of some 13 different tracks.
Only a few Kilometres from the resort is the Old Wilpena Station which once was an important pioneering pastoral lease first settled in 1851. The Station was added to the Park in 1988 and has been converted into the Old Wilpena Station Historic Precinct with one of the most complete groups of early station buildings surviving anywhere in South Australia. The Station Homestead was converted to become the National Park headquarters in 2003. It is now possible to take guided and self-guided tours of the historic precinct including the "Living with Land" Interpretive Trail.
Arkaroo Rock is an important Aboriginal Site within the park (located on the southern boundary). It features dramatic ochre and charcoal images depicting the creation legend of Wilpena Pound.
Another aboriginal site is Sacred Canyon where the sandstone walls have ancient rock engravings (animal tracks, people, waterholes etc). Sacred Canyon is located 19km from Wilpena off the main Hawker-Blinman road.
The Cazneaux Tree (made famous from the celebrated photograph taken by Harold Cazneaux in 1937) is another interesting feature to visit. Nearby the Cazneaux Tree is a mound of rock that is all that's left of the ruins of the Wilpena Eating House which served the passing trade up until it was abandoned in the 1880s.
The "Ruins of Blinman" is a self guided tour, and is located 50km North of Wilpena, and was once a thriving copper mining centre where 1000 or so people lived. The town is now ruins with only some of the pug and pine huts and stone buildings that were erected near the mine still standing.
Also worth visiting are the Appealinna Ruins, via a track 1km north of the Wirrealpa turn off on the Blinman Road. The rocks that form the stone ruins were all originally quarried on site. There is a homestead and stockyards on South of the creek and to the north another mining settlement.
Bunyeroo Valley is a scenic road with a razorback ridge and lookouts. Further ruins can be seen before go into Bunyeroo gorge, being the Yanyanna hut and stockyards. The pug and pine hut was built in the 1850's and iron shelter from 1937.
Brachina Gorge has become a very popular attraction. It's a natural refuge for the endangered Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby and many animals including birds and reptiles. It forms a 20km self guided East-West trail which reputedly passes through 130 million years of earth history. Well written signs on the trail provide information detailing geology of the region, past climates and even the evolution of early life forms. Detailed information on the trail is available from the Wilpena Pound Visitor Centre.
Glass Gorge and Parachilna gorges, found north of Blinman, allow you to take in the beautiful scenery of the Heyson Range as you follow tracks that originally were for mining drays as they followed these gorges to reach the railway at Parachilna. Keep your eye out for the Great Wall of China, an inspiring bluff along the Trezona Range, a few kilometres north of the park boundary as you travel to the gorges.
Lastly the Moralana Scenic Drive is a 28km route following Moralana Valley which lies between the south western wall of the Pound and the Elder Range.
Wilpena Pound - Burra (3 hrs)
Leaving Wilpena Pound you will again pass through Hawker and, heading towards the town of Burra, pass through the small town of Carrieton. Nine kilometres North East of Carrieton on the Belton Road are a number of mysterious Aboriginal Carvings to see. Also nearby are the Horse Shoe Range (with walking trails, lookouts and the Mookra Tower Rock) and the Yanyarrie Whim (the remains of a stone tank and slate trough used as a watering hole by drovers and their herds passing through the district). A little further on you will pass by Walloway station where there is a memorial for the two railway firemen who died in a head-on train collision in 1901.
Next is the town of Orroroo where you can visit the interesting Yesteryear Costume Gallery and also the Early Settlers Cottage both of which open only by appointment. A few kilometres outside of the town you can see a monument to Goyder's Line which figuratively separates areas of frequent rain from those of frequent drought and was used in determining safe areas for agricultural development and settlement of South Australia. Also of interest are the Rock Poems at Pekina Creek (carved into rock 1896 and 1901) and the Tank Hill Lookout.
As you pass through the town of Black Rock you might want to consider diverting to an unusual attraction: at nearby Magnetic Hill a sign suggests parking your car at the bottom of the hill in neutral so that you can "feel your car being pulled uphill".
Next, at Peterborough, there is the old railway workshop converted to become the Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre. At the centre you there are displays of locomotive memorabilia depicting what life was like in Peterborough in the early 1900s. There is also a number of carriages and engine on display and also the opportunity to ride a steam train service that runs between Peterborough, Euralia and Orroroo where you can ride in carriages built between 1917 and 1928 some of which originally saw service on the famous "Ghan" train. Also at Peterborough are Ivan Ley's Museum with an interesting collection of dolls, bottles, minerals and memorabilia on display as well as Eric Rann's Museum with a range of old stationary engines and industrial artefacts from the 1800's.
Last major town before Burra is Jamestown where you can find out all about the town and a great deal of it's history by following the Town Walk (including history of John Cockburn who went from local doctor to Mayor to South Australia's State Premier during the time of Federation). Worth visiting is the Jamestown Railway Station Trust Museum which is full of local rail & regional history and the nearby Bundaleer Forest which has walking trails that take you on an enjoyable hike through the historic Radiata pine plantation.
Burra (1 day stay)
On arrival at Burra there is a lot of interesting things to see so consider staying a couple of days and purchasing the Burra Heritage Passport which provides you with a guide to 43 different interesting sites around Burra and also includes entry to all of the sites (including some that are only accessible using the key that comes with the passport) and also details an 11km walk that takes you to all of the sites including those mentioned following.
The Market Square Museum (the first location on the passport tour) is the first Museum opened in Burra by the National Trust in 1966. The interior is full of local history, and is a recreation of an old-style general store and family home. All kitted out to display the original fittings there are also crafts and traditional sweets for sale and a guide to answer any questions you might have.
The Burra Mine site & Powder magazine is the old copper mine that helped town prosper and which closed in 1877. The site is now an open air museum with information boards all around site giving the visitor an understanding of the mine and how it operated. There is also a lookout here as well as the powder magazine built 1847 to house the mines explosives which is one of the oldest remaining mining buildings around.
The Morphett Engine House museum is a restored building house the only known reconstructed Cornish Engine House in the world and features displays of Beam Pumping and Winding Engines that were commonly used in mining processes.
The Miners Dugouts were created in 1840's as simple accommodation that was used by up to 2000 miners and their families trying to avoid paying rent while working in the mines. The remnants of the dugouts provide a fascinating insight into the harsh lives of the people who lived there.
The Police Lock-up and Stables (for which you need the passport key) were originally built in 1847 to cope with the expanding population of the city and by 1851 housed a 6 man force.
Redruth Gaol (also key access) was then built in 1856 and was used until closed 1894 after which it was reborn as a girls reformatory. There is a wide range of prison/reformatory memorabilia throughout the site and placards with historical details and intriguing stories. There is also a museum of film memorabilia for the film Breaker Morant found here (scenes for which were filmed in and around Burra).
The Unicorn Brewery Cellars are another key access site. Built in 1873 the buildings were partially demolished in 1911 having closed due to changes in liquor laws back in 1902 cellars. With restorations continuing currently you can see the cellars, the storeroom, the manager's residence and the walls of brewery block.
You can also inspect the Hampton Township Ruins which was once a private English style township built just on a hill overlooking Burra just North East of Redruth Gaol. Originally consisting of 30 stone buildings and a Chapel (no complete building still stands) it was finally abandoned in 1960.
At the Bon Accord Mine Centre there is a display which includes a forge, a large model of the Burra Mine as it was 1860, an original Mine Shaft, and the 1859 built Mine Captains Cottage which is now available for accommodation.
The Malowen Lowarth cottages were built between 1849 and 1852. Cottage 11 has been restored as a Museum and has been furnished by the National to look like an 1860-1870 home. A tour guide in period costume provides information and stories on typical family life for a mining family. Some of the other cottages are available as accommodation.
Peacocks Chimney Stack is another restored attraction. It was rebuilt on its current site in 1972 when the copper mine was re-worked as an open cut mine. Originally used to create an updraught for the boilers at the Peacocks Engine House you can now also find perched atop the chimney a small statue of Johnny Green, the Miners Mascot since 1852.
Burra - Adelaide (3 Hours Drive)
On your way back, we suggest a diversion to the Barossa Valley. The Barossa Valley has larger towns including Angaston, Lyndoch, Mount Pleasant, Nuriootpa, Tanunda, Tununda, and many smaller towns, hamlets and localities etc. Gawler is not far away. Only a short side-trip from your route, the Barossa is a great place to enjoy the local culture and extensive wine industry of the region. The Barossa Valley has award winning wineries and rich agricultural country. Visit many interesting rural towns with great buildings, galleries, art & craft shops and tearooms. All around the greater Barossa Valley can be found dozens of wineries, both new and old, producing the great wines. Many have cellar door purchasing, tastings and restaurants.
Barossa Valley Attractions include:
- Art Norm's Studio, Gawler
- Artfully Yours Studio Gallery, Angaston
- Barossa Bush gardens, Nuriootpa
- Barossa Museum, Tanunda
- Barossa Quilt & Craft Cottage, Angaston
- Barossa Regional Gallery, Tanunda,
- Clonlea Recreation Park, Willaston
- Galler Studio, Nuriootpa
- Gawler Museum - Old Telegraph Station
- Kaiser Stuhl Conservation Park, Tanunda
- Lavender Farm, Lyndoch
- National Trust of SA Gallery, Angaston
- Norm's Coolies - Performing Sheep Dogs, Tanunda
- Sandy Creek Conservation, Sandy Creek
- Stockwell Recreation Park, Stockwell
- Storybook Village in Tanunda - over 50 displays of Children's Stories
- Timeless Australian Aboriginal Art Gallery, Tanunda
- Wombat Rise Sanctuary, Sandleton
- Wineries, old and new, everywhere!