The Flinders Ranges, Not Quiet in the Centre but in the Outback

The Flinders Ranges are glorious. I was spoilt in being able to visit at a time when the countryside hadn’t been this green for a very long time. Green and red dirt makes for a great mix of photos. This is one of those places where I take amazing photos! (It’s really not me just the awesome scenery) Far too many Australians don’t get out there but we are not alone, many countries have only just discovered the world within their own borders.

I wanted to get out there. I would if gone further a field but I had convinced my very dear friend to take myself and my two boys with her and her three boys in her car, Yep, your maths is correct, 5 boys in one car for a week! Fun times ahead.

Flinders Ranges

We flew into Adelaide and had a few days with my darling friend, her husband and her boys at their home in the Adelaide Hills. I love Adelaide and it’s surrounding areas. We picked Wilapenna Pound in the Flinders Ranges as the area we would base ourselves. This was based on the few good walks within a drive from our accommodation and enough to do to amuse 5 crazy boys ranging in age from 2.5 to 10. We decided a hotel was not going to work as we didn’t want to be confined to our room after little ones went to bed. Plus, we damn well needed to share a wine each night after full days of wrangling boys.

Flinders Ranges

Where to stay

We booked a Homestead, Skytrek Willow Springs,  so we could have enough space for the boys to run around without disturbing too many people. We envisioned marshmallows around the fire pit and glasses of wine. There were dreams of bushwalks through the day and appreciating the Australian bush. Of course at times there were moments as picturesque as a postcard but the majority of our days were filled with enforcing the law, threatening the riff raff and generally just surviving and trying our best to get through to the next day. At one stage my darling friend was feeling so defeated she wanted to pack up and go home!

With rain and wind against our bushwalks and making it very difficult to enjoy our fire pit, solutions needed to be sought regularly. Wine mostly, but I’d like to believe in our busy lives the opportunity to chat endlessly daily and absorb each other’s children with all their charm and nuances was something that drove us onward. Of course the day we headed back to the Adelaide Hills there was no rain and no horrible wind!

Our hosts

The hosts of the Homestead could not do more to make your stay more informed. It’s not a 5 star resort but we hadn’t wanted that either. A little disappointing to us was to arrive and find the house unheated and the wood wet. We had to ask for more wood. I would of thought you would just deliver it, that said perhaps we are over-demanding city chicks?

On the other hand, any information we sought or questions we had were welcomed. We wished the boys weren’t so small and we could of gone off road a bit more. The views in these vantage points were said to be magic. Our car, whilst being a 4WD was not equipped with the muscle strength or the equipment should we get bogged. Small children in the car meant we were possibly less gutsy than if it were just us. That’s the excuse we will use anyway.

Flinders Ranges
Windy conditions
Wilapenna Pound

We had selected Wilapenna Pound as the destination of choice as it provided a range of things to do and places to see within a short distance. The Flinders Ranges covers a distance of 430km from north to south. Wilapenna Pound is a natural wonder located in the Ikara Flinders Ranges, and the closest point of the ranges to Adelaide (about 200km away). When I was a kid, my parents had the most magnificent painting of the ranges on their wall of which the colours mesmerised me and I day dreamed about seeing such a place. R.M. Williams is a man who I would say has seen a vast amount of Australia and the Flinders Ranges were his favourite. Well, if it’s R.M.’s favourite, that is good enough for me.

Cultural understanding  

Wilapenna Resort, Information Centre and the camping areas are all run by indigenous Australians. There are several aboriginal cultural tours you can take part in. We booked one for the kids and specifically picked one that said kids are welcome. The tour guide in fact only spoke to the adults on the tour and we had to either keep up or straggle behind. A good tour operator  in my mind would be able to hang back and adjust his speed and content to his audience.

Having said that, the kids were brats so I was relived to hang back where no one was aware they were being hideous other than me. It is obviously a special place to the Yura people and I can see why. Imagine sitting at your camp fire and seeing strange  white people arrive  on the back of a strange animal. To then watch them eat food out of a container in their hand. It would of indeed been a strange site for the ancestors (grandfathers).

There is a new generation who are able to put the times of the past aside and are determined to work out a way to move forward that suits not only their people but all the people lucky enough to visit.

Flinders Ranges

Bushwalking with kids

There are a number of bushwalks to do in the area and the track along the billabong into the resort is pretty. We didn’t get further than the track. It eventually leads to the pound and the various vantage points around it. The shelter the surrounding pound provided was a welcome relief from the wind. The kids couldn’t walk the whole way – there and back, so we missed seeing the pound at all apart from at a distance. Disappointing, yes, but it leaves something for next time.

The variation in flora from half an hour down the road to the next spot where amazing. This is an area susceptible to wind in most parts but the protected areas are quiet lush. We were lucky to see it so green. If only we could return in a few months when the dessert flowers were expected to bloom after a wet winter. On our day of driving and exploring,  we were surprised to find variations in the flora as we turned into a gully and around a range of hills. The variation based on wind, soil types and a variety of other factors was vast.

Flinders Ranges

Activities and entertainment

In the surrounding paddocks we saw emus. At this time of year several chicks were running around with what I learned were the fathers. Yep, the dad emu does the incubation of the egg and raises the young. Fascinating stuff huh? These birds are a rare site these days as we creep further and further into the countryside. They can run up to 50km per hour and as the do so this big lump of soft feathers rises and falls gracefully as they run. They are soooo cool.

We invented our own fun a lot of the time. Discovering quartz and shale and other different rocks in the paddock near to the house was a popular and competitive activity. Collecting firewood turned into a game by which the boys tried to find the best branch to drag back to the homestead. We searched for bones. I made a treasure hunt list of clues for our driving day to entertain the bigger boys and avoid arguments with the little boys. We played games and invented games. Our search for bones turned into a search for dinosaur bones. Finding caves was an attempt to try and get out of the relentless wind. We tried to find emu eggs.

Enjoying yourself when life throws you lemons

We did manage to enjoy ourselves at times. Wine in hand we watched the sunset! The boys chased wallabies. The boys spotted emus. Aware that our Volvo was being laughed at in a field of mud splattered Toyota’s, we laughed with them. We laughed at being blown over by the wind at photo spots. Like all travel (and almost anything in life), you need to take the good with the bad. Whilst it may of taken me some time to recover from or to be ready to do that again, the good moments were brilliant. The scenery was delightful when we got a break from the wind and the kids spontaneously climbed a hill. Such good moments.

The biggest surprise of all

We did indeed weather a storm but fortunately for us we our friendship is strong enough and close enough to survive any storm. I hope our children remember the certain hell they put us through, but of course, they will see it as the certain hell we put them through. Then it is unlikely they were aware of any of it. Like with any kids that don’t see each other regularly, you hope they get along. Their parents so desperately want them to form some sort of kinship so we have an excuse to catch up more often.

Would I go back?

I will definitely go back to the Flinders Ranges. Next time I am looking at couples accommodation, romantic dinner settings under the stars and getting to the end of many of those walking tracks. I hope for the wind to cooperate so that I can get up in a plane and see it from the air.  Given my husband and children’s behaviour over the weekend, perhaps I will even go alone.

We both want to do Kangaroo Island. Too soon? Or are we brave enough to do it again?

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