How to spend a day in South Australia’s Mount Remarkable National Park

How to spend a day in South Australia’s Mount Remarkable National Park



Want to make the most of your vis­it to this icon­ic park? We’ve got you cov­ered with this one-day itinerary.


Nes­tled in the south­ern Flinders Ranges on the edge of the out­back, Mount Remark­able Nation­al Park is with­in easy reach of Ade­laide, being only a three-hour dri­ve north of the city.

Its loca­tion, just south of Port Augus­ta – the Cross­roads of Aus­tralia’, makes it a pop­u­lar and con­ve­nient stopover point for trav­ellers mak­ing their way across Aus­tralia. Both major road routes that con­nect Perth to the east coast cap­i­tals and Ade­laide to Dar­win pass right past the park.

So if you’re trav­el­ling through and want to stop and stretch your legs, the park is a great spot for it.

Explore the dra­mat­ic gorges, spot local wildlife or take in the spec­tac­u­lar views of the South­ern Flinders Ranges and Spencer Gulf from the park’s name­sake, Mount Remark­able, which ris­es 960 meters above sea level.

The park’s many kilo­me­tres of walk­ing tracks have some­thing for all ages and abil­i­ties, includ­ing the famous Hey­sen Trail that goes right through the mid­dle of the park.

There are plen­ty of options for vis­i­tors want­i­ng to explore fur­ther, includ­ing moun­tain bik­ing in Wil­lowie For­est or doing an overnight hike and stay­ing at one of the sev­er­al bush camps through­out the park.

There’s so much to see and do, so local park rangers Brett Cogh­lan and Niamh Dou­glas have put togeth­er a sug­gest­ed itin­er­ary to help you make the most of your vis­it to the park.

Note: This itin­er­ary cov­ers high­lights that can eas­i­ly all be done in a day, start­ing at the Alli­ga­tor Gorge precinct of Mount Remark­able Nation­al Park just south of Wilmington.

Morn­ing

Start your day explor­ing the impres­sive Alli­ga­tor Gorge, with its spec­tac­u­lar rock for­ma­tions and rock pools.

From the Alli­ga­tor Gorge car park, take the short and easy 400m walk­ing trail to Ali Look­out, where you’ll be reward­ed with views of the gorge below.

If you’re feel­ing ener­getic, head down the 250-or-so steps into the gorge. From here, fol­low the 2km Gorge Cir­cuit Hike, which will take about two hours to complete.

Once you’re at the bot­tom of the gorge, walk over to The Ter­races and if there’s been some recent rain, you’ll be reward­ed with water trick­ling down the stepped ledges.

Spend a few min­utes tak­ing in the seren­i­ty, lis­ten­ing to the sounds of the creek and the birds.

On a hot day, the cool­ness at the bot­tom of the gorge is a wel­come relief while you admire the geol­o­gy in the rock walls and the trees stretch­ing from the gorge floor to reach the sunlight.

When you’re ready to keep mov­ing, retrace your steps and head back through The Nar­rows sec­tion of Alli­ga­tor Gorge.

Top tip: Vehi­cle entry fees apply to vis­it Mount Remark­able Nation­al Park. Before you vis­it go online to pur­chase a pass or vis­it one of our book­ing agents to pay in person.

How to spend a day in South Australia’s Mount Remarkable National Park

Lunch

By now, you’ve like­ly worked up an appetite. From the Alli­ga­tor Gorge carpark, dri­ve a few min­utes south on the unsealed road to the Blue Gum Flat Pic­nic Area.

This spot is per­fect for lunch, with shady gum trees and is a great place to see some local wildlife includ­ing emus and west­ern grey kangaroos.

The facil­i­ties here include pic­nic tables, free bar­be­cues and toilets.

After­noon

After lunch, dri­ve approx­i­mate­ly one hour over to the Mam­bray Creek precinct on the west­ern side of the park by tak­ing the scenic Hor­rocks Pass Road and then Nation­al High­way 1

Look out for the well-sign­post­ed entrance road to the park and con­tin­ue to the day vis­i­tor area where you’ll have plen­ty of options for bushwalks.

The 1.6 km Wirra Water Loop is an easy 30-minute walk that fol­lows the creek west past the camp­ground. Along the way you can learn about the riv­er red gums that line the creek. Look out for local res­i­dent kook­abur­ras, emus and euros.

You can extend this walk by adding the Baroo­ta Hike, which will take an extra 90 min­utes from the end of the Wirra Water Loop. The trail will take you past the Baroo­ta Ceme­tery and Baroo­ta Home­stead ruins.

For the more adven­tur­ous hik­er, take the 7 km Mam­bray Creek Val­ley Hike. Head east from the day vis­i­tor area and enjoy this peace­ful stroll through the red gums along the creek. Keep your eyes peeled while you’re walk­ing as you might be lucky enough to spot the vul­ner­a­ble yel­low-foot­ed rock wal­la­by on the cliffs and scree slopes. The walk ends at Scar­fes Hut, an old one-room hut where a shep­herd used to live with his fam­i­ly back when sheep were run in the valley.

How to spend a day in South Australia’s Mount Remarkable National Park

Evening

If you’ve still got some ener­gy left, once the sun starts to go down, head up the Dav­eys Gul­ly Hike. The 2.4 km trail will take about 1 hour to complete.

At the top of the hike you’ll have a fan­tas­tic view of the sun set­ting over the Spencer Gulf. Make sure you bring a jumper to stay warm and a torch to light your way back down the trail once it gets dark.

Stay the night

If you want to stay the night in the park, there are two camp­grounds in the Mam­bray Creek precinct to choose from.

Mam­bray Creek Camp­ground is the largest of the two, and is great for fam­i­lies as it has hot show­ers and easy access to the day vis­i­tor area. Baroo­ta Camp­ground is a few min­utes down the road and is small­er with a more seclud­ed feel.

Camp­sites must be booked online so be sure to book yours before arriv­ing as phone ser­vice with­in the park is limited.

Top tip: Didn’t bring your tent? Not a prob­lem – there are two accom­mo­da­tion options also avail­able for book­ing. Mam­bray Cab­in in the Mam­bray Creek Camp­ground is a one-room cab­in best suit­ed for indi­vid­u­als, cou­ples, or small fam­i­lies and Alli­ga­tor Lodge near Alli­ga­tor Gorge is a three-bed­room house and per­fect for larg­er groups.

How to spend a day in South Australia’s Mount Remarkable National Park

Things to pre­pare before you go

Before you head into the park to start your day of adven­ture, buy your vehi­cle entry pass either online or from one of the book­ing agents on your way.

It’s also a good idea to down­load park and camp­ground maps on your phone while you still have inter­net recep­tion, or get the Aven­za PDF Maps app and down­load the park maps. When you’re in the park, the app will use your phone’s built-in GPS to plot your real-time loca­tion onto a map – even when you don’t have inter­net reception.

The park tru­ly is a rugged wilder­ness, and that also means there’s lim­it­ed facil­i­ties avail­able, so you’ll need to come prepared. 

Make sure you pack enough drink­ing water and food as there are no shops locat­ed with­in the park. It’s also a good idea to pack sun pro­tec­tion (a hat, sun­glass­es and sun­screen) and insect repel­lent. If you’re plan­ning on hik­ing, it’s also essen­tial you wear suit­able footwear and cloth­ing, such as long pants.

There are no bins in nation­al parks, so you’ll also have to think about how you can take your rub­bish home.

Look­ing for an insider’s guide on the best places to vis­it and must do’ activ­i­ties? Check outRanger Niamh’s tips for Mount Remark­able Nation­al Park.

Main image: Bush­walk­ing along Mam­bray Creek


This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living