Let me set the scene. It was time for a family holiday with the kids, so Steve and I packed a case of wine and decided on a destination. It was a tough decision between the sea and the mountains, but given we live at the beach, we opted to save Kangaroo Island for another time, and set our sights on one of our bucket list places, Wilpena Pound. Wilpena Pound Resort (WPR) to be more specific.
WPR is spectacularly located within the Flinders Ranges National Park, South Australia – 430kms north of Adelaide. This extraordinary landscape is 800 million years old and has been home to Adnyamathanha people for tens of thousands of years. From rocky cliff faces and jagged mountains, to dense bush, and then vast expanses of absolutely nothing, it’s incredibly diverse terrain, and perfect for a scenic road trip.
Enter the need for an all wheel drive vehicle.
There’s no point in driving up there if you can’t do the gorge drives over the rocky roads. It’s how you can soak in the most amazing scenery you’ll ever encounter. I’ve actually made the drive up to the Flinders once in a Hyundai Excel, but we didn’t make it much further than the Wilpena Pound general store. There are plenty of sealed roads for those seeking a little less adventure, but hey, if you can do it properly, why wouldn’t you?
Our road beast needed to safely transport the afore-mentioned wine, two toddlers, a stack of food from the Adelaide Central Markets, a variety of random bags and and us. Luckily for us, I was offered the chance to test drive the Titanium Ford Territory, which seemed like a smart choice.
Boasting an epic boot (which can accommodate extra seating if needed), a diesel engine (hello amazing fuel economy) and had a DVD player in the back for the kids, this car was built for road trips. It even has SYNC2 (hands free bluetooth) so I could continue working until my reception ran out (hey Optus, can you work on this please). Essentially, Steve and I thought we had hit some sort of genius parenting moment. That was however, until we hit the open road. Kids between the ages of 2 & 4 talk a lot. Even more than the Kardashians (if that’s even possible). Suddenly a 5 hour car trip didn’t seem like such a good idea.
Our car must have been touched by an angel however, and we discovered bluetooth Bose headphones, which the kids thought were amazing, and gave us blessed peace for most of the trip. A quick stop over at the Watervale Hotel in Clare was also nothing short of genius, when it turned out that this quaint little pub also housed boxes of My Little Ponies and building blocks for the kids while the adults have a little breather. Or a vino. It is Clare after all.
Onwards to our destination – the Flinders Ranges. We would have loved to try out the Safari tents while we were there, but it seems everyone else had the same idea and they were booked out, so we opted for the Wilpena Pound Resort instead. They have great family rooms, which whilst small, offer some comforts that camping just doesn’t allow.
Our little kitchette was perfect for heating the kids meals we had brought along (with a stove or microwave depending on what you need), and had just enough space to prepare platters of Woodside cheese, Adelaide Central Market olives and nibbles to accompany our precious bottles of wine. Here’s a handy tip though – bring your own platter, cheese knife or serving bits & pieces. While the rooms have basics (plates, bowls, cutlery and the odd pot and pan) it’s not set up for entertaining.
There’s even a little fridge, toaster and kettle which definitely came in handy for us.
If you want entertainment, bring your own DVDs for the player. There are some basic TV channels but there isn’t a lot of choice.
There’s also a shop at the Visitor Centre, which stocks all the basic supermarket items (super handy), plus hot pies, sandwiches, real coffee (omg YES!), muffins and some essentials for camping.
Right across the road from the cabins are walking trails, which are great for people with prams or toddlers (just head into the park and turn left along the long flat road) with plenty of hilly, windy tracks peeling off from the main road for those more adventurous.
Spotting birds and wildlife became quite the game while we were there (and even if you don’t have kids, it’s pretty special finding dozens of species on your trip). The Resort itself is full of kangaroos, rabbits and birds. It’s fantastic.
I’ve even made a checklist you can take with you if you want to keep the kids entertained for a while. You can thank me later. Download it here.
The MUST DO part of our adventure however wasn’t the ice cold dip in the pool (thanks kids), or even recovering at the bar (thanks Wilpena Pound Resort), it was the drive through the middle of the park.
With a range of 4WD tours, guided bush walks and the ‘must do’ scenic flights over Wilpena Pound on offer, we were spoilt for choice, but in the end we opted for taking ourselves on a little adventure to take some snaps of the family (and the car) and to enjoy the great outdoors!
The best drive we found was from Wilpena – Bunyeroo Gorge – Brachina Gorge – Parachilna (and of course the Parachilna Pub for some of their famous fare) – Parachilna Gorge – Blinman and then back down the sealed roads to Wilpena. A full day of driving and adventures but absolutely worth it. Plus we made sure there were lots of stops for the kids to run around and enjoy the outdoors.
Another highlight of the trip was heading out on the guided Sunset Spectacular tour. We were bundled up in an old robust 4WD and ferried up to an incredible look out where we enjoyed the ancient landscape whilst enjoying an antipasto platter and some drinks. Whether we were watching the sun set behind the mountains, or looking behind us at the colours across the hills, it was breathtaking wherever we looked.
All in all I’d definitely recommend both the drive up to Wilpena (via Clare), the Ford Territory as an incredibly spacious, economical car for long distances, and Wilpena Pound Resort for somewhere great to stay if you want to really enjoy the Flinders Ranges, but aren’t in the mood for camping. It’s actually a great place for a romantic weekend, a family holiday or a big group adventure.
Just take a few extra luxuries from home and you’re set. Here’s my list for next time.
- My mini Nespresso machine (the Resort restaurant only has vending machine coffee)
- Wine (of course) and proper wine glasses
- Cheese boards, cheese knives and serving platters/bowls
- Fruit bowl (super handy with kids)
- BBQ implements (there are BBQs scattered around the resort)
- One torch per person
- Bandaids (although you can buy them at the general store)
- Binoculars (makes for spectacular viewing atop the mountains)
- Toiletries (toilet paper, tissues, shampoo etc)
- A decent knife for chopping
- DVDs for the room
- Kids cereal – there’s a buffet at the restaurant but my kids are simple and just wanted basic food
- Hayfever tablets
A massive thanks to Ford Australia who provided the Titanium Territory to Glam Adelaide to review, and Wilpena Pound Resort who provided the accommodation. All opinions expressed in this post are my honest opinions based on my personal experiences.