I've been meaning to post about our family holiday to the Flinders Ranges for a while. During the September/ October school holidays we drove 5 hours from Adelaide to the Flinders Ranges with another family to camp at Wilpena.




The Flinders Ranges are one of Australia's Natural wonders. It's a very ancient land, an area rich in fossils from the Ediacaran period, the very earliest signs of life from around 635 million years ago. The landscape is rugged, and is very much the fabled Outback. September is the ideal time to go as there is still water around, so billabongs abound, the gorges have water and the natural life comes with them- frogs, dragonflies, an enormous range of birdlife, emus and kangaroos with their babies, goannas and all the beautiful wildflowers. The days are mild (around 20-28C) and nights cool/ cold and it is ideal walking weather.

by a Billabong...

Now I know what long term readers are thinking… Heidi Camping? My thoughts on camping are fairly unchanged - I have lived in unrenovated houses for literally years at a time, and if I am going to go on a holiday, I prefer for it to be at least as comfortable as it is at home, and preferably better. That cuts out camping. But it also means that it cuts out a lot of our truly spectacular natural wonders as well. Add to that that our children have been desperate for us to go on a camping holiday, and I started to cast around for some options. Something that wouldn't see us investing thousands of dollars in camping equipment that would then be stored in a dirty corner of a shed never to be seen again.


Enter Ikara Safari Camp. It's almost brand new - large, permanent tents located in Wilpena with small decks out the front with views over Wilpena Pound, and equipped with an ensuite with shower, loo and handbasin just off the bedroom inside (with a bed that Mr AV declared the best that he's slept in - and he travels an awful lot for work and stays in generally top hotels, so this is high praise). Each tent is a reasonable distance from the next, and the two family tents are located up one end of the campsite away from the couples tents. The family tents each have a small annex that contains two sets of bunk beds… so these tents will sleep a family of 6 in comfort. They are also equipped with a bar fridge, tea and coffee making and reverse cycle air conditioning/ heating, and are serviced each day.


Our friends had muttered that this seemed like a camping cop-out, however they changed their mind almost immediately upon arriving when after the 5 hour drive from Adelaide and with overexcited children going a little crazy we just unpacked the cars and opened a bottle of wine. No fighting and struggling over putting up the tent… and for the children it was exactly camping as they thought it would be as each tent has a campfire pit adjacent to it, so we still did a campfire (bar the one day there was a total fire ban due to heat) and roasted marshmallows.

Dining tent via 

Breakfast was included and is served in the "Dining tent", which is an enormously large tent located in the centre of the Safari Camp. It was a very civilised way to start the day as there was a large buffet cold breakfast and a cooked BBQ breakfast done to order.

my 4 year old on a big walk

And as for what we did, well, we did a few big walks (the two oldest boys were keen to do some Geocaching with their Dads, which saw them walk up an incredibly high hill nearby in search of the geocache, something neither would have done otherwise as it took 3 hours). We walked into Wilpena Pound (even our 4 year old did it - a total trouper as it is around 1.5 hours round trip. We spent a day in Blinman (a former Copper mining town) and did a tour of the old mine, which (thanks to Minecraft) the boys were completely fascinated by with the description of the harsh life the Cornish miners had in the 1880's (temperatures of 50C in Summer, a maternal death rate of 70%, water only for face washing and drinking so infant mortality rates were similarly high).

the old Blinman Post Office

The Flinders ranges has one of the great walks of Australia starting (or finishing) in it - The Heysen Trail. It runs for 1200 Kilometers and we saw many of the trail walkers with their enormous packs walking along the path near our tents.




We spent 4 nights there, which was about perfect, so much so that we've already booked in again for next year at around the same time. The children rode their bikes around the campsite without danger of cars knocking them over, the girls played games with little houses constructed out of bark and rocks for their Silvanian Families characters, we read, and chatted and each morning were visited by Kangaroos that would hop right up to the deck to graze. Emus are everywhere, and at one point a father Emu went past with his 9 baby emu chicks. Being up close with nature was a privilege indeed.

emu

one of the nearby Gorges where we had a picnic lunch

So, I can thoroughly recommend Camping in the Flinders Ranges - the Safari Camp was not nearly as expensive as a hotel,  yet just as comfortable. It's also perfect for those visiting South Australia as a tourist - you can just roll up with no preparation after hiring a car at the airport and have the benefit of seeing a truly spectacular part of the world.

This is not a sponsored post

39 comments:

  1. ooh... this looks idyllic. What lovely memories you'll form for your children. Mine are definitely too young to camp, but I am certain we will do at some point at my husband and I got engaged on a camping trip in Quetico Park in Canada and we really want to take them there. x

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    1. That's lovely that you were engaged on a camping trip Charlotte - was he testing you out first to see if you could handle deprivation maybe??!
      I don't think camping with small children is much fun - my Mother in Law recalls wanting to tie the crawling baby to a tree on a long piece of rope as the allure of the camp fire was strong!! Mine are all getting to a more self sufficient stage in life thankfully, so understood the dangers as well

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  2. Goodness such a vast empty country, it looks incredible, I would love to do this one day.

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    1. It is empty when you compare it to more populous places.. which I suppose is pretty much everywhere else. Something we tend to take for granted I suppose!

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  3. I'm so glad you brought this to our attention; I know so little about your part of the world and this was so interesting and I'd definitely love to do this one day. So you have 2 boys and 2 girls?

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    1. Oh goodness no! I have 2 boys and a girl - the other boy and girl in the photo are our friend's children, and they spent the entire day playing happily together, which was bliss!

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  4. Wow this looks amazing, what a perfect way to camp with children, I could do this and like you I am not much of a camper. I would love to visit this part of the world, just stunning and so unusual looking from up here in Canada.

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    1. Well, we thought Canada was the most beautiful country. I suppose you take for granted what is in your own back yard!
      The camping/ Glamping was definitely no hardship, but felt like you were at one with nature, so was a nice balance.

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  5. What gorgeous country! I love camping, but thee comes a point I don't love sleeping on the ground so much... I'll have to look into this type of place, I'm sure there's something similar.

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    1. It was absolutely beautiful country Liene. I've always been impressed at all your camping trips, but yes… sleeping on the ground or an air mattress does wear thin after a while!

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  6. This looks to have been a marvelous trip in beautiful country, but camping it ain't! I'd call this Glamping, which is perfectly fine with me.

    So nice that you managed to get the children out into the wilds. The last time I camped was last year and all of the children that accompanied us had such a great time of it. So few of them get to run about on the streets or in gardens nowadays, that these outdoor adventures are even more important than ever.

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    1. The children absolutely loved the freedom, and loved exploring as well, it was so nice to just see them ride off on their bikes knowing they were safe but felt that they didn't have boundaries. It's definitely glamping - I'm with you there!

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  7. Love how you captured the vastness of the Australian bush and the kangaroos! I can't believe I was blase about it as a kid at one point. The wildness and combo of comforts looks divine and am not surprised you booked again already for next year. My mother was not a camper so we never got to camp though and wish I camped more as a kid so this will be a great memory for your kids! x

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    1. But what you're used to is completely normalised - a bit like how we had a pet kangaroo as children. It really didn't seem strange to us, but it is fairly unusual even by Australian standards!
      I think all kids love camping, its the adults who prefer their creature comforts. The only downside of being so close to nature was the morning wake up call from the crows at dawn. They'd worked out there was food immediately around our tent from where the kids would be dropping things all day, so they'd fly in to pick things up and talk to each other - so noisy!!

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    2. My kind of camping! Looks lovely! And so wonderful with the family. The only kind I'd even consider nowadays.
      In childhood we camped at the beach in Q'ld every year. Father loved it, mother complied, on sufferance. As kids we adored it and ran wild, almost no supervision, boys having to be taken off to casualty for sting ray barbs, fish hooks or broken glass to be removed from feet. At night we'd have a small bonfire on the beach (children only - the parents played cards across the road), we'd sing and talk and then play hide and seek, giggling under upturned boats etc. Parents would never allow today. It all came to an end when our tent was blown down during a cyclone. I was on the top bunk, awake because of the wild winds, thunder and lightning, rain torrents and dreadful sunburn. Suddenly the canvas roof flew up, ripped apart and fell on top of me. My mother said "Never again".

      Later, with G, camped around the UK and Europe, everywhere from the slopes of Ben Nevis in snow to almost desert in Morocco, from freezing to baking. We had a wonderful time in beautiful countryside, even camping in grounds of divine fairy tale chateau, Azay le Rideau. Finally just before we left the UK for Oz, after 5 amazing years, I said "Never again!" We sold tent and equipment to the Cambridge Boy Scouts.
      But you make me think again. Pammie xxx

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    3. I don't blame your mother - that sounds dreadful (from a mother perspective, children tend to find it all such an adventure!). Love that you camped in so many places around Europe - we travelled through Europe in a Campervan for 6 weeks with my parents when I was 4 (and my sisters 7 and 2). I can remember we girls thought it great fun. Dad had to go off for a lot of walks on his own though…..! Not sure I'm keen to replicate the same experience with my family!

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    4. Nowadays, don't think people would be allowed to camp across the road from the sea with a cyclone approaching. The police would probably come around and tell you to leave. Back then people were left to their own devices. Everyone knew the cyclone was coming: they tightened guy ropes, dug trenches around tents and caravans to carry the rainwater away. No-one packed up and went home. Everyone had torches ready - candles no use, they'd have blown out in the roaring wind. As kids we weren't scared - it was all an adventure. But must admit I didn't like it when the huge heavy wet canvas roof fell on top of me suddenly, along with what seemed like tons of water.

      On the whole camping in Europe back then was lots of fun, campsites were very friendly places and you'd pick up tips of good places to visit. In Valencia another Australian couple took us to a workingmen's bar they'd found nearby. The locals were so friendly and fascinated that we were from Oz. There was a lot of sign language and laughter. They were almost all men and some of them began kangaroo hopping around the bar. One had a guitar and sang for us. We finished our lunch and drinks and were about to leave when suddenly a tray full of fabulous fresh seafood tapas arrived. The guys indicated it was from them - along with glasses of local red. So being good Australians we had to return the shout. Somehow with all the shouts and return shouts we ended up spending almost the entire day there and only just made it back to the campsite.

      Your parents were really brave travelling around Europe in a campervan with three little ones. Can understand your father going off for long walks by himself. Something mothers never get to do!
      Think your glamping experience is the way to go with the family! Or in Europe pick two or three locations and rent villas there. Pammie

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  8. Heidi, that would be a father emu and his chicks, not the mother. After laying the eggs, the mother emu leaves all the rest of the "upbringing", including sitting on the eggs, to the father. So the cute 9 chicks would have been trotting after their dad.

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    1. I had no idea (clearly)! Nice to know the mother emu is one creature that's worked things out to suit herself! And to think how sorry for "her" I was feeling having 9 offspring to attend to!

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  9. I can smell those eucalypts from here. Didn't know father emus raise the chicks, Ive seen emu families on the Hay plain, south west NSW.

    Looking at this landscape you can understand how Europeans were so confronted by the country when we first arrived.

    Talking of SA, have your ever been to Truro?

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    1. We actually talked quite a bit about how the first European settlers would have found the landscape and how they travelled through it when they first arrived - there are ruins of early homesteads that people who tried running sheep on the land and later abandoned during drought had. It would have been such an isolated existence.
      No, never been to Truro.

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    2. and those women in all those clothes in the heat!

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    3. thought this may interest you

      http://www.artgallery.sa.gov.au/noye/Photogs/Kauffmnn.htm

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  10. Looks gorgeous. What a lovely way to camp. We camp each year for three weeks but we are very well set up which makes a difference I think. We actually did it with small babies as well. Our youngest two were only four and six weeks old when we took them. We went with a group of four families and the men sort of did the hard yakka of setting up while the women went for a cappuccino and an ice-cream with the kids. This is still a tradition even though we have all upgraded to caravans and the kids are grown up. Our kids still speak of these holidays as the best ever. I also like a bit of hotel holiday as well though so this set up looks ideal. We do live in a beautiful country. Thanks for this post, I’m looking into it. Tonkath

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    1. I think most children have absolutely wonderful memories of camping if they're fortunate enough to have parents willing to do the hard yakka for it! Although as you said, if you're set up properly it's not such a hardship. We saw both extremes in the general campsite next to where we were - some had incredible tents, cooking equipment, chairs etc and others had tiny swag type things that were very basic.
      I'm hopeful more of these types of permanent tent type things spring up around the country - it makes camping somewhere far from home much easier if you can fly to the destination first and don't have to pack equipment.

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  11. There is something absolutely magical about the Flinders Ranges. I could definitely cope with a spell of glamping there! We had a memorable day trip to Wilpena pound years ago when we were briefly living in SA. We took toddler daughter on the Hills Homestead and lookout walk. We walked, she was carried, so we rested for a little while on the verandah of the lovely old homestead before climbing to the lookout. On returning to the homestead we found a very large snake curled up on in a dip on the verandah, right next to where the baby had been sitting.....
    Ah, the joys of the Aussie bush!

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    1. Snake!!! Oh my goodness - my worst fear. So far we've been lucky and have not seen any either at Kangaroo Island or in the Flinders. I always tell the children to walk loudly through the bush, and as that is natural habit for them anyway they pretty much scare off any wildlife that may be in the vicinity!

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  12. Oh this looks so amazing, Heidi! I showed it to J this morning and we're plotting how we can go there next year... I'm guessing we could fly to Adelaide and drive from there? It looks exactly like my kind of camping, and the kids would love it!
    We really want to explore more of our adoptive country, so this would be a great start!

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    1. Well… you could drive, but you'd have to overnight somewhere on the way, it'd be around 18-20 hours from Sydney I'd guess? Easiest way would be to fly to Adelaide on a 9am flight and hire a car at the airport then drive the 5 hours through the Clare Valley where you could stop for lunch and you'd arrive around 3-4pm. You don't need a 4WD as its all sealed up to Blinman, although it you're there during Winter you might want one as a lot of the roads flood.
      Agree with you about exploring our own country more - I'm really wanting to get up to the Top end, and over to Broome as well… and Tasmania. So many places I haven't been to.

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    2. Good advice, Heidi, thanks!
      Is early Spring a good time to visit? Say Sept/Oct?
      I'm hoping that we could fly to Adelaide, drive to the camp, but perhaps break it up with a stop at a vineyard for a night or two?
      Any advice about vineyards very welcome!
      I'd love to go to Broome... and Tasmania. The only travel within Aus that I ever do is to work conferences or the occasional long weekend in Melbourne.
      Must remedy it, but it's hard when there are so many relatives in Europe who want us to go back.

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    3. Sept/ Oct is prime time - the best weather and the wildflowers are out. Definitely book the tent now though - they only have 2 family tents and they already had bookings in for next year when I tried to book in for us.
      Yes to the vineyards - the nice drive is down the RM Williams Highway which goes straight through a lot of really old towns, the Clare Valley is a very pretty place with lots of different accommodation options at the start of it. You could also stay at some of the big old stations that are dotted around nearby as some offer b&b, self contained or have shearing shed accommodation. A lot of the old mining towns like Kapunda or Burra also have accommodation options, or Martindale Hall (which was where they filmed Picnic at Hanging Rock) and is a time capsule from that era. I can recommend Bungaree station - they're family friends and have a lot of different accommodation options in the various outbuildings at the station. Also Hughe's Park Cottage is very nice, and run by friends of ours as well, it's in the Clare Valley so very handy for wineries.

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  13. I showed my au pair your camping pictures today to give her an idea of the diversity and beauty of Australian landscape. So beautiful. My husband is anti camping- am hoping our boys will coerce him as they age. Such a unique and wholesome experience (although must admit I haven't camped for 15 years), perhaps a ready established camping set up will be the answer.

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    1. Frankly I wouldn't have camped apart from these tents, but they were brilliant - very comfortable, and as sleep is key on all holidays the beds and the bunks for the kids were perfect. I'm sure your husband would love something like this, its a good mix of hotel and camping, and as you say the children just love these types of holidays - such a novelty for them.

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  14. Ok this is my kind of camping! Last time we visited the Flinders with a camper trailer (not too bad, did have a kitchen) Tommy & I ended up sitting in the ute freezing wanting to go home! I can handle this though and do agree we are missing out if we don't go. It is truly beautiful! x

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    1. I have to admit I did turn the heating on a couple of mornings as it was so cold! We all just loved it so much, can't wait to go back next year

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  15. What fun! Glamping! Love it. Great rec xxx

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  16. Heidei check out Akaba station, its on its own 30,000 acres or so and was owned by the same family as the pound. we were very lucky to spend a few weeks there a few years ago and the kids absolutely loved it. its stunning scenery and they have a few glamping stations as well as some lovely stone cottages.

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    1. Thank you for the recommendation anon! I will have to go and look it up - the name does ring a few bells, so we must've passed signs for it at some point.

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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