Warraweena

Flinders Ranges

South Australia

Warraweena is a private conservation park in the northern Flinders Ranges in South Australia. Formerly a sheep station, it’s main goal is the recovery and conservation of the native flora and fauna. It also provides eco-tourism appealing to bush walkers and 4wd enthusiasts alike. The nearest main city is Adelaide approximately 550km (340 miles) away.

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It’s been on my list of places to visit for a while, and the stars aligned recently. So here is a record of our trip (it is long and rambling, just so you know).

Expedition vehicle is 2001 Toyota 105 series Land Cruiser. Expedition party is two humans, two (almost) canine.

Leaving Adelaide early on Saturday morning, I decided to try and do the Bridle Track in the southern Flinders Ranges on the way up. It was a relatively short detour off the Stuart Highway, it’s not a challenging track but did have some good views.

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Unfortunately i managed to take a wrong turn off the track and ended up back on the highway. So we didn’t get to do the whole track. In the end this turned out to be a good thing as we only got to Warraweena and managed to set up camp as the last of the days light was fading. I had managed to eek out 600km from the main fuel tank of our Landcruiser (trust me this is an achievement...) and was planning to re-fuel at ‘Beltana Roadhouse’, which is where you leave the highway to drive about 40km east on the dirt to get to Warraweena. Unfortunately Beltana Roadhouse looked like it stopped trading several years ago, so we were now on the sub tank and would have to drive back out in the morning to get fuel. Knowing the sort of driving I was planning over the next few days would see us use fuel at about twice the rate we had done on the drive up.

This is sunset just after we arrived at Warraweena.

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The next day saw us head back to the bitumen in search of petrol. Our first stop was Leigh Creek about 70km away, but being a Sunday and in the Outback nothing is guaranteed to be open. So we pressed on a little further up the road to Copley, I knew there was a good servo here as I had to stop there for a new tyre after destroying one on the way back from another trip I did to Arkaroola. Fuelled up we made our way back to Warraweena, taking photos under the The Ghan railway

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and also where the original narrow gauge version of that railway used to run.

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Beltana is also a township. This was a thriving hub when the railway used to run through it. Around 1980 they moved the railway about 20 km west with predictable results for Beltana. In fairness there were some relatively newer buildings, which means there are some people still choosing to live here, it definitely has a almost ghost town feel to it though.

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On getting back to Warraweena, i took the Cruiser for a short drive around the local area. There is a lot of driving and crossing these dry creek beds.

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A bit of a reminder it’s an unforgiving environment.

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Growing up in the UK, the strangeness of the colours of the Australian bush never cease to amaze.

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There was a short but steep drive up to a lookout, good view.

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The next day we tackled the Mt Gill track. This is very much a 4wd specific track. Its 36 km (22 miles) and takes at least 5 hours to complete. The experienced 4wdriver will have no problems getting round, but due to its remoteness it’s not one for the in-experienced to tackle alone.

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Keeping up your concentration for 5 hours is the biggest challenge. Wheel placement is important. After tackling the first few sections easily, i then got my rear diff hooked up on a rock in a relatively simple section. Easily recovered from, but a good reminder it would pay to stay switched on!

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It’s like driving through your own nature documentary of Australia.

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This is the climb to Mt Gill. Some sections are a little steep and the surface is quite rocky and at times needs some well judged momentum to get through without damaging tyres. Definitely not one you want to get stuck half way and have to reverse back.

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Mt Gill at 900m offers suitably impressive views.

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Good place to stop for lunch.

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This is the view from adjacent Mt Stuart, named after the explorer who would use this peak as a reference when surveying the surrounding lands. Just before we got here there was a pair of Wedge-tailed eagles sitting in this tree.

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Good views from here too. You can see why you wouldn’t want anything to go wrong out here, help is a long way away.

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The last part of the drive is some more flexing through the rocky creek beds. I was pretty beat by the time we got back to camp.

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The next day we did some easier driving out to the old homestead. It boggles the mind how the people who first settled this land must have felt. It’s so remote and unforgiving.

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I should mention the Warraweena is managed by a highly personable ex pat Swiss chap called Stony. His love for the land and enthusiasm about the property really add to the experience. Not to mention his knowledge of the natural environment and the history of the area.

The Mt Gill track has to be one of the best one day 4wd drives in the country, and the whole experience is about as genuine an Australian outback experience as you could ask for.

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A couple of shots at sunrise as we left the next day. Just the 550km drive home to knock over ahead.

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As someone who grew up in cold, wet, densely populated England. This is the Australia of my dreams.

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