At one point in time, Australia’s vast deserts were teeming with marine life and completely underwater. The Eromanga Sea that once covered Australia’s outback disappeared between 100-120 million years ago, leaving behind fossils and opals, as well as terrain that is both rugged and beautiful. It’s hard to imagine the deep flowing water of this sea however, as today South Australia is the driest state in the driest continent on earth. But this is a good thing – it’s unlikely to rain on your holiday, and the flora, fauna, and desert features that are the result of this change from sea to desert are utterly fascinating.
Coober Pedy is at the northern end of the South Australian outback, and here you will find an underground town with some buildings bobbing above the surface. The locals have carved out comfy dwellings beneath the ground in order to keep cool – and let’s face it, they look pretty cool too! The main industries of Coober Pedy are opal mining and tourism, and if you visit – you might have a chance to search for some opals of your own.
The Flinders Ranges are towards the southern end of the South Australian outback, and are 220 km from Adelaide. Here you’ll find a seemingly endless vista of red mountains, with a big sky above where the sun and clouds seem to change positions for the artists of the area. It’s beauty on a massive scale. Local Aborigines have lived in the area for thousands of years. Interested visitors are invited to learn the local customs and participate in cultural experiences.
The remainder of the South Australian outback is scattered with towns, each offering their own take on life and culture in the desert, and it is definitely worthwhile stopping into a few for a meal and to explore.
Here are five ideas to make the most of your outback holiday!
1. Grab your paints, pastels, easel, and sketchbooks. The Flinders Ranges are an artist’s paradise, as evidenced by the many Australian artists who have immortalised their views of the area onto paper or canvas. But you may find worthy subjects for your artwork just about anywhere in the South Australian outback, where beauty abounds.
2. Put on your hiking boots and go bushwalking, or pack your bicycle and head for the trails. The Flinders Ranges have many wonderful paths and trails to explore, the trouble is deciding which one to try first!
3. Try your hand at opal noodling in Coober Pedy and you might be able to bring home a valuable souvenir that you carved out of the rock yourself.
4. Travel back in time on the Pichi Richi Railway departing from Quorn. This historical narrow-gauge train service steams along the last remaining section of the original Ghan railway. Check out the Pichi Richi Railway website for more details.
5. Fly over the outback to truly experience her vastness and beauty. Once you’re in the air, you’ll be struck at how there seems to be no end at all to the red desert. Yet, there are so many spectacular features – particularly around Flinders Ranges, which make the flight one of life’s “must dos”.
When to go
It can get really hot and dry in the summer months, so plan to visit in spring or fall or lather up on the sun block. Winter is lovely too – but bring a jacket for the cooler evenings.
How to get there
A car or 4WD is the best way to see the Flinders Ranges and outback. Although you don’t need a 4WD to get to the main attractions (the roads are either paved or well graded), there are some fun areas where you can give your 4WD a good work out.
Adelaide is only a few hours from the outback, and depending on how far you want to travel, you can either park your car and walk around a lovely town, or drive for days exploring the different geological wonders and outback jewels – in particular Coober Pedy, which takes several hours, but is worth the drive.
Get the real feel of life in the outback by staying on a genuine sheep station. Or sleep underground in Coober Pedy’s luxurious Desert Cave Hotel . Enjoy the spectacular views of the Flinders Ranges from Wilpena Pound Resort or relax in a self-contained apartment or house in a variety of fascinating places throughout the South Australian outback. Check out Take A Break’s Flinders Ranges/Outback listings for accommodation to suit your travel needs.
Ideal length of visit
There is a lot to see and do, so if you have a car plan to stick around for at least a week and drive around the different sites. Alternatively, Flinders Ranges makes a lovely weekend getaway from Adelaide.
About the Author
Kylie-Jane Degeling is a freelance writer who has lived in Adelaide, Yulara (Uluru), Alice Springs and Canberra , as well as five different countries throughout the world. After backpacking around Australia, she worked as a tour guide in Central Australia, before training for her Commercial Pilot License and working as a flight instructor, scenic flight and charter pilot. She later worked as a travelling IT trainer for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, which involved spending time in each of their 16 District Offices around the country on a rotating basis.
Having experienced Australia as a backpacker, tour guide, pilot and business traveller, Kylie now enjoys family holidays with her husband Alex, and children Jezzy and Jordan. She says, “I have been lucky to see Australia from a variety of perspectives, and as a travel writer can use this experience to inspire others to find holidays they would enjoy.” Kylie currently works as a travel writer in addition to being a government writer and columnist for two parenting magazines.
Click here for information about Coober Pedy
Click here for information about Flinders Ranges and the South Australian outback.
Find out more about Kylie at http://bit.ly/h_experts