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Published June 13th 2015
Take the time out to explore a working station
We were getting a little tired of the city life, and the summer sun was on the run, so a quick google of places to go for a relaxing weekend and a refresh of the batteries came up with the Bendleby Ranges. The concept of doing as much or as little as we desired was attractive, so off we went.
Bendleby Ranges is a working sheep station in the south-eastern Flinders Ranges about 3.5 hours north of Adelaide. The facility is a combination of two adjoining properties, "Springs" and "Gumdale", and totals some 15,000 hectares. The Bendleby Ranges Station is nestled between two hill ranges known as the Hungry Ranges and the Bendleby Ranges.
Originally established as agricultural land in the 1870's, the lack of rain and Goyder's Line put an end to that dream, and pastoral properties they became. Over the last decade or so, eco-tourism and adventure holidays have been introduced to the Station which has resulted in the station winning numerous tourism and adventure awards.
Bendleby Ranges is alive with numerous accommodation choices including the 135 year old Crotta Homestead, the gorgeous Gumdale Cottage and the Acacia Cottage overlooking the mainly dry river. The Shearers Quarters are also available most of the year, and provide a unique stay for families, while the most popular option are the campgrounds nestled throughout the creek beds and gorges. These grounds, complete with long-drops and some powered, support caravanners and campers alike, with most accessible by 2wd.
Over the last decade Bendleby Ranges has become a mecca for 4wd enthusiasts. Over 150km of station tracks have been opened up to drivers varying in intensity from the cobbled and corrugated tracks on the plains, the creek crossings through the gorges and the nail-biting hill climbs and descents across the Hungry Ranges. A training track near the office at the Springs gives novices a chance to try out their skills in a safe controlled environment, before hitting the far back reaches of the property.
If 4wd'ing is not your scene, then the mountain biking and walking trails are sure to please. Combining with some of the 4wd tracks, these trails provide opportunities to further explore the station and the surrounds, and to experience some of the large gum-tree laden creek beds, stunning gorges, colourful flora and inquisitive fauna. Climbs to the top of the ranges are a must as the provide magnificent views of the countryside.
Bendleby Ranges is located 50km northeast of Orroroo along the gravelled Johnburgh Road, and past the now ghostly town of Johnburgh. The station is accessible by 2wd cars, and a number of the tracks within the station to the major camping, walking or biking trails are also 2wd tracks. A runway near the Springs also provides an alternative for those that wish to fly in to the station and hire a 4wd or mountain bike for a weekend.
Further details on Bendleby Ranges, including booking details, are available from the website or the facebook page. Accommodation ranges from $20 per night for an unpowered campsite to $155 per night for the Homestead, and includes all firewood. Daytrippers are also invited to tour the Station and drive the tracks, with a small levy applicable.
Another good review Steve.Having been and stayed there ,I can vouch that it is as good as you have stated.Being that it is not as far as places such as Wilpena,it makes an ideal short break from the city.I reckon anyone with a young family,would really enjoy the surroundings..it is like a pocket Wilpena in some ways.A few years ago,when I first went there,the Tourist Information Centre had not heard of it.To explore the area to it's max.. a 4wd is essential.