Links marked ☁ are affiliates that I really love. Find out more here.

Many visitors to Australia expect to encounter the outback, but instead spend most of their time in cosmopolitan cities. If it’s the outback you’re after, then you’ll love Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges, some six hours north of Adelaide. Undoubtedly, the best way to experience its rugged, desolate beauty is camping in Wilpena Pound – it’s a true outback experience, perfect for enjoying a very different side of Australia and disconnecting from the busy world.

Wilpena Pound is a huge indent in the landscape of the Flinders Ranges, thought to have formed over hundreds of millions of years. Like all of the Flinders Ranges, Wilpena Pound has been inhabited for millennia by the Adnyamathanha people, who have a continuing connection to the land. In one Adnyamathanha dreaming story, a Kingfisher named Yurlu created the planet of Mars when he threw a firestick from within Wilpena Pound.

As you wander through Wilpena Pound’s network of trails and look up at the enormous, sparkling night sky, you can certainly understand why this amazing place was the setting for many magical historical legends. 

Today, Wilpena Pound is well set up for visitors who are willing and able to make the 430 kilometre drive from Adelaide, and activities in the region make the most of the beautiful landscape and also honour the heritage of the Adnyamathanha people. While there are many different types of accommodation, I went camping in Wilpena Pound and loved every moment! Yes – even I, self-confessed hater of camping, loved camping in Wilpena Pound. 

Hopefully with this article I can explain why.

When to Visit Wilpena Pound

Campervan on the Road to Wilpena Pound

Like much of the Australian outback, the Flinders Ranges and Wilpena Pound experience quite extreme swings in the weather, sometimes in the same week or even day! Therefore, the question of when to visit Wilpena Pound can be a difficult one to answer with certainty.

Spring in the Flinders Ranges is a beautiful time to visit, as there are many native wildflowers which add a special kind of beauty to the landscape. In addition, the temperatures are more moderate than they are in summer and winter, meaning they are much better for daytime activities like hiking and mountain biking. Night-time temperatures can be a bit chilly, but overall they are much more moderate.

On the road to go camping in Wilpena Pound

On the whole, the Flinders Ranges experiences extremely hot and dry summers where the temperatures can exceed 40 degrees celsius (104 degrees farenheit) regularly. As rain during these months is almost non-existent, it can be a good time to visit, however if you are planning to do any activities then you should leave very early in the morning when it is cool, and always bring a lot of water.

Autumn is another popular time to visit Wilpena Pound as the temperatures drop and become much more friendly! The landscape also changes as the leaves fall, making it a unique and beautiful time to visit the Flinders Ranges.

Winter (June – August) is surprisingly cool in the Flinders Ranges, with temperatures frequently dropping to single-digit figures, particularly overnight. Although this can make camping in Wilpena Pound a little frosty, you can easily prepare for it by bringing appropriate clothing and delaying your hikes or activities until a little later in the day. 

Where to Camp in Wilpena Pound

If you want to go camping in Wilpena Pound, then you’ll need to stay at the Wilpena Pound Resort. As the name suggests, it offers many different types of accommodation from ultra-luxurious hotel rooms to unpowered campsites.

Wilpena Resort in Wilpena Pound Flinders Ranges

We chose a powered campsite as we had our campervan ‘Ringo’ in tow – along with electronics including my laptop (of course) and my Nespresso machine (of course). It is not the cheapest campsite I’ve stayed in ($39 for two people in high season, per night), but it’s reasonable and you get the use of all of the Resort’s features. This included a pool and firepit, as well as an onsite bar and restaurant.

The camping area is enormous but it was easy to find our site and pitch up. This is why I think camping in a campervan is five hundred times better than camping in a tent – you simply stop the car and you have a comfy hotel room on wheels! Well – hotel room may be a tad generous, but it was pretty comfy.

Campervan in Wilpena Pound Flinders Ranges

If you don’t want to stay at the Wilpena Pound Resort, you’re best off camping elsewhere in the Flinders Ranges as Wilpena Pound is more restricted than other areas. There are several good campsites that offer powered sites, including the Hawker Caravan Park or Rawnsley Park Station (just outside the National Park), or you can take advantage of the (unpowered) free campsite at the Hookina Ruins in Hawker.

What To Do While Camping in Wilpena Pound

One of the great things about camping in Wilpena Pound is that it is a great destination whether you’re a lazy traveller looking to relax (me) or the type that prefers to get up early and be active (Tom). While my idea of a good time was lying around catching up some reading, Tom was up at the crack of dawn to hit the trails. In the evening, just sitting around playing games and talking around the fire was so perfectly relaxing.

So, aside from lazing around drinking coffee and reading books (my activities of choice), here are some other things we recommend as things to do in Wilpena Pound:

Photo of a walkway in Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges

Photography

It’s a cliche to say, but Wilpena Pound really is a playground for photographers. There are so many beautiful landscapes, and you’re bound to meet some cute and quirky animals as well. My favourite, though, was the night photography opportunities – even in the Wilpena Pound campground I still managed to get some nice sky shots. If you’re able to go further out and away from the light pollution, it must be stunning! I’m obviously not the only one who thinks this – Canon runs FREE (!) astrophotography workshops on certain weekends throughout the year. No more are planned for 2018 but you can check next year’s dates here.

Hiking

I know this is going to horrify some people – but I really don’t like hiking. Seriously. About 1 kilometre in my legs start to hurt, and unless the views are utterly spectacular I lose interest. I did, however, enjoy the hiking I did while camping in Wilpena Pound – mostly because they are generous with the “interpretative signs” which give you more information about the sights. Another popular hike is to St Mary’s Peak, although I did not climb to the peak as requested by the Adnyamathanha people.

On these walks, you can expect to see all kinds of adorable Australian critters such as kangaroos, koalas and echidnas. I was so excited to see this little guy, and get some photos of his cute face!

Echidna in Wilpena Pound

You can do the hikes as part of a guided tour, however we just did them ourselves. If you are going to do so, just take the obvious precautions like bringing lots of water and telling someone where you’re going so someone can send out the search party if you’re tardy getting back to camp.

Adnyamathanha Culture

I tell everyone who will listen about the fact that Australia is home to the longest surviving culture on the planet. Certain Aboriginal Australian groups are thought to have been present on the continent for more than 40,000 years – truly incredible considering the pyramids were built 4,000 years ago and Stonehenge was 5,000 years ago. Not only is the culture incredibly enduring, but it’s also rich with distinct languages, traditions and legends. I cannot more highly recommend visitors to Australia to find out more about the First Nations group in the areas that they visit – in Wilpena Pound’s case, the Adnyamathanha.

Luckily, there are many opportunities at the Wilpena Pound Resort to learn more about the history and culture of the region’s First Nations people. There are daily ‘Yura Udnyu – Our Culture, Your Culture’ walks, as well as free nightly Welcome to Country ceremony that is well worth attending.

Platter in Wilpena Pound Flinders Ranges

Other Activities

The Wilpena Pound Resort offers many other activities to supplement your stay camping in Wilpena Pound. Honestly, most of them are not budget friendly – however they are great experiences. We went on a 4×4 tour to watch the sunset, and it was amazing! There was champagne and a delicious local platter… moments like these sometimes make me question my commitment to budget travel (then I get my bank statement, and am reminded of all the reasons why I love budget travel).

Final Thoughts

Sometimes I think I sound like a bit of a broken record harping on about how great South Australia is, however experiences like camping in Wilpena Pound constantly remind me what a great place to visit and live it is. While many people stick to the metropolitan parts of Adelaide and the other major cities, I think there is so much to be said for venturing that bit further afar and making some amazing memories.

Like this? PIN IT!

Camping in Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges

Share this Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *