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Published May 24th 2017
Discover Something New
The Flinders Ranges are one of South Australia's natural treats. Rolling hills, stunning gorges, aging geology and plenty of flora and fauna to excite everyone. Today, thanks to National Parks SA, we can see many of these treats by car and by foot. But what happens if you want to see a bit more and see outside of the park? That's where Flinders Ranges by Bike fits in.
Flinders Ranges by Bike, or FRBB as it is more commonly known, is a 205km network of bike trails across the Flinders Ranges National Park and a number of surrounding and rarely seen outback stations. FRBB links cyclists to the major accommodation options in the region, namely Wilpena Pound, Rawnsley Park Station, Willow Springs Station and Gum Creek Station.
Commencing at Wilpena Pound, the FRBB loop follows the Mawson Trail and takes cyclists south along the Old Telegraph Road around the edge of Wilpena Pound, passing Mt Ohlssen Bagge, Point Bonney, Arkaroo Rock, Prelinna Homestead and Rawnsleys Bluff before dropping into the popular Rawnsley Park Station. Rarely seen views of the Pound wall are combined with captivating views of the Red and Elder Ranges in the distance.
Leaving Rawnsley Park the trail heads east of the Flinders Ranges Way in some rarely explored territory through Arkapena Station, past Pugilist Hill and alongside the Chace Range. Following the distinctive orange FRBB trail markers, the gravel road is left behind and a series of 4wd tracks take cyclists in a generally northerly direction across numerous (normally dry) creeks before reaching Sacred Canyon, a significant find featuring Aboriginal rock engravings, a couple of waterfalls and some small picnic facilities.
Heading north from Sacred Canyon the trail follows the gravel road towards and across the Flinders Ranges Way and on to the Bunyeroo Gorge Road passing more of those renowned creek crossings and traversing several small native pine plantations. After a short while the FRBB turns northeast and takes cyclists along the Old Blinman Road, a partial 4wd track that runs for around 10km along the edge of the National Park.
After a short trip past the historic Appealinna Ruins, the trail leaves the National Park and enters Willow Springs Station where the trail follows a series of 4wd tracks to the east and northeast of the National Park and alongside the Loves Mine Range, providing further and more interesting views of the Flinders Ranges. Along the way the trail passes some of the lesser known but just as significant landmarks as Skull Rock, Guide Hut, Yaltipena Spring, Cousins Hut, the Bunkers and the seemingly never-ending Moodlatana Creek.
At its northernmost point the trail passes into Gum Creek Station, the large station just a few kilometres south of Blinman. An initial flat to slight downhill along a 4wd track past Moggs Hut is soon overtaken by a steady and majestic climb up the ABC Ranges providing stunning panoramic views of the northern part of the Park and beyond, and offering a short detour to Red Hill Lookout along part of the Heysen Trail for even more spectacular and captivating views.
Soon thereafter, the FRBB joins the Mawson Trail just inside the National Park, and follows this trail ultimately all the back to Wilpena. Along the way the trail passes across Brachina Gorge, past the Elatina Hut, a camping spot for those on the Heysen Trail, and on to the spectacular and much photographed Razorback Lookout over the Bunyeroo Gorge. The final part of the trail takes cyclists up and down over the 65 dips and creek crossings that form the Wilcolo Trail before reaching the crest and enjoying the slight downhill past the Old Wilpena Station into the Wilpena Pound Camping Ground.
The FRBB trail is able to be ridden all year round, notwithstanding the heat in the summer months. The trail can be ridden in either direction, and with at least 8 places where the trail passes gravel or bitumen roads, there is plenty of opportunities to break the ride up into smaller day trips. Accommodation options (and luggage transfers) are available at Wilpena Pound, Rawnsley Park, Willow Springs and Gum Creek Stations for those wishing to do the loop in one continuous trip.
Access to the part of the FRBB trail that passes through the National Park and follows the Mawson Trail is free, while access to the Stations to the north and east of the Park requires a key and a small access fee. Further details are available from the Flinders Ranges by Bike website or from any of the Stations in the area.