The Flinders Ranges are one of South Australia’s most treasured landscapes with local folk reverently referring to it as God’s country. This ancient band of ranges has weathered over millenia into rugged peaks that can be seen for miles. St Mary Peak, the highest point in the park at 1171m, is well worth the effort as it affords exceptional panoramic views of the pound and the ancient crocodile-looking backbone of the ranges extending north. This is best appreciated from air as you can absorb the entire craggy bowl that is Wilpena Pound, the showcased gem of the park, and the endless expanse of parched landscape to the west in one vista.
But on the ground there is a post-apocalyptic feel to the landscape; a monoculture of war-torn-looking cypress pine trees dominates the hills while heavily eroded drainage channels cut through the deathly silent valleys near ghost town ruins. The natural pound was once an attraction to sheep drovers in days long gone and the years of grazing has removed the understorey, scarring the landscape irrevocably. Once above the tree line though, the vegetation starts to look less alien and sinister and more natural, familiar and happy.
Light is a wonderful painter here; get up early to behold the golden rays of dawn set fire to the ranges inch by inch or watch as their craggy peaks become a haunting, inky silhouette against the darkening sky at sunset. The park also offers some of the best camping the state has to offer and the campers will be overjoyed to see a gas bullet in the middle of this remote, outback area, whispering promises of a hot shower! And if you are lucky you will also be treated to a bolshy kangaroo challenging you to a boxing match near the toilets!