Australian Bicycle Camping Fact Sheets

Flinders Ranges South Australia 2000

Environment | History | Resources for bicycle touring | Getting there | Roads and traffic | Food | Water | Camping | Services |


Grace Newhaven

Purpose
This fact sheet is intended as an introductory guide to cycle camping in the Flinders Ranges [The Flinders]. The region is a remote yet established conventional tourist destination, and general tourist and promotional information is readily available from mainstream sources elsewhere. This fact sheet assumes the reader has, or will have, access to those sources.

Resources
There is no bicycle-specific map of the Flinders.

State Information Centre 77 Grenfell Street Adelaide. (08) 8204 1900 (for NPWS and other maps including the SA [Bi] Cycle Route map series.)

Flinders Ranges Regional Map & Souvenir (two maps in one, 1:300 000 + 1:600 000) is a glossy but useful map produced by the State government and tourist promotion organisations.

The Royal Automobile Association has a useful regional map, free to members.

The SA Bicycle Camping Directory lists a number of camping sites and other accomodation.

Australian Cyclist magazine featured the Flinders in 98:02:44

Ian Fisk is an Adelaide cyclist with a www site featuring photographs of biking in the Flinders.

National Parks & Wildlife Service 60 ElderTerrace Hawker SA 5434, freecall 1800 816 078 has a number of useful leaflets and maps.

The South Australian Department of Transport http://www.transport.sa.gov.au/ has information on road conditions.

Tourism SA (South Australian Tourist Commission) http:/www.tourism.sagov.au/

Flinders Ranges & Outback Visitor Guide http://www.outback.aus.com/
GPO Box 666 Adelaide SA 5001 or 142 Gawler Place Adelaide.

The North Flinders Ranges by Brian Sheedy (RoadWrite Publications, 1993) is a compact 4WD guide to the region. Worth a look, till we have something for bikes! $9.00 in Adelaide.

History
The Flinders Ranges are the product of an ancient geological process, the drying of a vast inland sea. Fossils recently discovered there have been claimed to be the oldest ever found.

The Ranges were first sighted and later named for Matthew Flinders, who visited in 1802, the first European explorer in the area. The area was and is inhabited by Aborigines, who, prior to white settlement, enjoyed rich food resources, and mined ochre deposits which were used as a trading commodity. There are many Aboriginal ceremonial sites in the region, some of which can be visited. There are also several modern Aboriginal settlements.

During the colonial period, a pastoral industry was established, providing wool and cattle products, and continues to the present. Agriculture was attempted but failed due to lack of reliable water. Copper and other deposits were mined for some time, but also failed. The ruins of much of this colonial history is still evident to travellers today.

Environment
The area has very hot summers, and nights are very cold in winter. Spring is the best camping season, but be well prepared for cold nights.

In this arid climate vegetation is reduced in both amount and density, so that dramatic rocky outcrops and imposing walls of sandstone emerge starkly from the generally flat background. This rugged scenery exhibits constant changes of colour and perspective. For the cyclist in particular, the region offers an opportunity to travel long distances through beautiful semi-wilderness over quiet unmade roads, the experience of solitude in a vast open area, and glimpses of unusual native animals in a number of places. The local environment is gradually recovering as feral animals (goats, foxes, cats and rabbits) are reduced. There are spectacular wildflower displays in spring.

Getting there
By bike: From Adelaide , there are pleasant backroads most of the way to Hawker, including the Mawson Trail, a marked cycle route of 800 km over largely unsealed roads, through very attractive country.

By bus: To Hawker/Wilpena/Arkaroola. Bike travels in a large luggage hold. Stateliner Bus Adelaide office (08) 8415 5555.

By rail: To Pt Augusta. Indian Pacific Rail and Ghan. Australian National 13 22 32

Roads
Roads are sealed from Adelaide to Wilpena, but vary after that. The road to Arkaroola is accessible to 2WD, anthough it may be rutted in places by 4WD. However, most roads are rideable to anyone used to a loaded MTB, if occasionally demanding in some places. Note however, that roads can become very quickly impassable after rain -- respect local opinions.

Camping
Outside built up areas, 'free' camping is generally allowed along roadsides in SA. In the Flinders, there is no shortage of attractive sites on publicly accessible land. Beware of creek beds, however -- these are prone to flash flooding. Avoid fires if possible -- there is great pressure from mass (car) tourism on the limited wood supply. If you do have a fire, keep it small; any fire should only be lit in a hole dug out with your trowel, so you can bury the ashes, both as a safety measure and for aesthetic reasons. Hot stones also tend to explode. (Wilpena camping ground, for example, is badly scarred with the remains of dozens of campfires!)

Food

There are few stores in the region, and the variety of available food is strictly limited and relatively expensive, so finding supplies can be difficult, particularly if your tastes run beyond the narrow range presented to the four wheel drive crowd. A food parcel posted from a supermarket would be useful, and not necessarily expensive.

Water

The Flinders are part of the arid zone, where water is a precious resource, so finding & carrying sufficient water is a problem for cyclists. Few creeks will have any drinkable water, and while there are some bores, the water they produce may be unpleasantly salty. Local people in the area collect rain water for drinking , and store it in metal or plastic tanks. You will inevitably need to approach local landholders for drinking water, and when you do so you should be prepared to offer to pay for it -- remember that the farmers here see a lot of tourists, many of whom abuse the local environment unthinkingly, or assume that the local people are here mainly to help them out of bogs and breakdowns. Show them you're different!

Services
Note: the last bicycle shop will be Pt. Augusta

Arkaroola

camping ground, motel, bar, small enthusiastic and expensive food shop

Balcanoona

water, shearers' quarters/backpacker accomodation with NPWS, very limited food supplies

Blinman

pub, post office/general store (limited stock)

Copley

s/market, pub, bakery (which supplies Arkaroola), camping ground, backpackers.

Hawker

all services. Email at the school.

Leigh Creek

All services. A 'company town' based on coal mining. Looks like a Canberra suburb from the '70s!

Wilpena

camping ground, small grocery store, motel ,bar & restaurant

Parachilna

pleasant pub/restaurant, camping, backpacker accomodation

 


Revised 2000 , 1997 October

 

Grace Newhaven
PO Box 3331
Rundle Mall SA 5000
e-mail:
gloria@chariot.net.au


 This fact sheet was produced by grassroots cyclists. No responsibility for errors or omissions can be accepted. It is intended for free or low cost distribution on paper or on the www, and you are free to copy it on that basis. Suggestions for improvement are most welcome!

Other Bicycle Camping Fact Sheets in this series include

Central Australia | SA Kangaroo Island | | North Queensland

| WA Kimberley | Stuart Highway | NSW Central West | NSW Sydney to Canberra