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