I turned off the engine and stepped out of the car. I had literally reached the end of the road and Pugilist Hill Lookout was the location from which I was planning to photograph sunset. But before I set up my tripod there was something else I wanted to do.
I closed my eyes.
As I found myself floating in a stillness that was both deafening and therapeutic, the silence was broken by the rustling of grass and leaves that suggested a kangaroo had joined me on the hill. The soundtrack to my moment of solitude was a symphony of squawks, cries and calls as the birds that call the outback home flew above me. The warmth of the sun on my face was deceiving and I zipped up my jacket to combat the bitter wind that was beginning to blow.
As I opened my eyes, the sounds morphed into shapes and colours, creating a 360 degree landscape painting featuring a solitary human figure: me.
One of the great features of the Flinders Ranges is the endless opportunities to enjoy these moments of solitude. Here are nine more:
The Flinders Ranges is a region of contrasts. Vibrant colours bounce off the rock faces of the mountains, as a leafless tree stands alone in the foreground. A narrow and windy road through a gorge widens into a straight line, stretching as far as the eye can see. A modern wilderness retreat stands on the same land as old European settlements ruins. It is a land of diverse characteristics, an outdoor story that changes to a new chapter at every corner you turn.
The Wide, Open Roads
The highlights of the Flinders Ranges are connected by a network of sealed and unsealed roads. It’s more common to share the roads with the Park’s wildlife than other cars and driving on the open roads provides a therapeutic break from the hustle and bustle of urban life.
Australia is full of unique birds and animals and the Flinders Ranges provides endless opportunities to observe them enjoying their natural habitat.
Whether it’s a windmill stretching towards the sky, kangaroos bouncing across the countryside, an emu crossing a road, a dry and desolate creek bed or the pub in a small outback town, the Flinders Ranges is full of scenes that are as iconic to foreign visitors as they are to Australians.
The Flinders Ranges landscape boasts a 540 million year geological history and has been the home of the Adnyamathanha people for tens of thousands of years. Whether it’s driving alongside ancient rocks in the Brachina Gorge, marvelling at the aboriginal carvings on the walls of the Sacred Canyon or exploring old European settlement ruins on the side of the road, signs of the rich history of the area are everywhere.
The Locals’ Attitude
Australians have a reputation for being laid back, friendly and good fun and the locals who live in the Flinders Ranges help this stereotype survive. As one local told me, most people in the area choose to live there because they are passionate about the landscape and wildlife. This passion was the driving force behind the Bounce Back initiative that has successfully increased the Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby population from only 50 in the 1990’s to more than a 1000 today.
Sharing the start of the day with the rising sun rewards you with inspiring views that provide a preview of the day ahead – it’s the Flinders Ranges at its best.
The wild and rugged landscape of the Flinders Ranges is unpredictable and moody. It may end the day with a roar, throwing fiery red and orange colours through the large outback skies. Or it may leave quietly, like a movie star exiting a party through the back door, slipping quietly and anonymously into the night.
It’s not just the destination that provides a great travel experience, but the journey to get there. The scenic drive from Adelaide to the Flinders Ranges passes through a picturesque land dotted with birds, animals, outback towns, local churches and old ruins.
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