THE ECHO CAMP BACKTRACK IS A BEAUTY AND IS A SELF-DRIVE AF­FAIR

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Indige­nous Pro­tected Area, which cov­ers 580km² of Abo­rig­i­nal land and was the first Indige­nous Pro­tected Area to be de­clared in the coun­try. You’ll need a per­mit to camp at the few des­ig­nated spots on this land (avail­able from the Nepabunna Com­mu­nity of­fice). The Moro Gorge camp is the most well­known, but you’re still al­most guar­an­teed to have the place to your­self. There are a num­ber of other camp­sites within the park, but re­mem­ber this is a hot, dry and very rugged re­gion, so you’ll need plenty of drink­ing wa­ter, es­pe­cially if you get out of the car and go for a walk.

There is no doubt that the Arka­roola Sanc­tu­ary is the best known des­ti­na­tion in the north­ern Flin­ders Ranges ... and so it should be. Es­tab­lished long be­fore ‘eco-lodges’ and ‘conservation’ be­came by­words of the en­vi­ron­men­tal move­ment, Arka­roola was es­tab­lished by Reg and Griselda Sprigg, and the sheep were moved off and the feral goats culled. Today, the prop­erty is still run by the fam­ily and of­fers the ad­ven­tur­ous trav­eller a range of ac­com­mo­da­tion, camp­ing and tracks to en­joy. While the Echo Camp Backtrack is a beauty and is a self-drive af­fair, the route to Sillers Look­out and its great views can only be en­joyed on a tour; it is well worth it!

On the western side of Arka­roola – and reached by a some­what rough and of­ten eroded 4WD track – are the re­mains of the old Yud­na­mu­tana smelt­ing and min­ing op­er­a­tion. Two old boil­ers that once pow­ered the op­er­a­tion are a re­minder of the mine’s 1860s hey­day, while a grave­yard near the creek has a num­ber of re­fur­bished head­stones. There’s some en­joy­able camp­ing to be had near here, and you’re al­most as­sured to be on your own. The smelter and most of the sur­round­ing mines are on Mount Freel­ing Sta­tion, which oc­ca­sion­ally of­fers camp­ing and ac­cess to its ex­ten­sive net­work of trails (per­mis­sion is needed).

Head­ing north-west from Yud­na­mu­tana will lead back to the sta­tion home­stead via Tin Hut and Mac­don­nell Creek (prob­a­bly the largest ephemeral stream in the north­ern Flin­ders). Head­ing north-east will lead along some tough 4WD trails and across some rugged ridges to Hamil­ton Creek, which can be fol­lowed to the ru­ins of Mt Fit­ton Home­stead. Once at Mt Fit­ton, you can head east along a rarely used ‘road’ to Ter­rap­inna Water­hole, lo­cated in a break in the range on Hamil­ton Creek. Head­ing west will lead via the re­cently aban­doned Mt Fit­ton talc mine to Mount Freel­ing Home­stead.

Just north of Ter­rap­inna Water­hole, the Flin­ders Ranges fiz­zle to a low, stunted end of rounded hills at Mount Hope­less. From here, a ster­ile view of desert coun­try and shim­mer­ing salt lakes stretch away to the dis­tant hori­zon; lit­tle changed from when Ed­ward John Eyre was turned back by the same des­o­late scene. South from here is some of the best 4WD ter­ri­tory in Aus­tralia; so go and dis­cover it for your­self.

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