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Published September 7th 2017
Who needs a city?
Mount Remarkable National Park Seen From Melrose at Sunrise
Melrose is an attractive small town that nestles at the foot of Mount Remarkable in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia. It's a popular place to visit in the school holidays, and there are many Melrose attractions that draw visitors at other times of the year. It's particularly popular with mountain bike riders and bush walkers who are drawn to the beautiful Mount Remarkable National Park.
The town of Melrose itself has only a few hundred permanent residents, but when I visited in Autumn there were many people camping or on holidays in the town. It makes for a lively atmosphere - especially in the two hotels at Melrose, where tourists and locals socialise in the evening. I really enjoyed going for a counter meal and the inevitable random chats with other patrons. Both hotels offer great food and wine of a high standard, and there are regular meal specials available.
As the oldest town in the Flinders Ranges Melrose has lots of history. You don't have to look far to find heritage buildings. There are eleven state heritage places in this small town, although surprisingly the local council hasn't bothered to give any other buildings a local heritage listing. For South Australia history lovers a visit to the Melrose Courthouse Heritage Museum is a must.
State Heritage Listed Jacka Brothers Brewery in Melrose
Early one morning I got up at first light to catch the sunrise as it illuminated Mount Remarkable, and it was a beautiful sight. A few minutes walk from the main street and the setting becomes rural, with sheep grazing at the foot of the mountain. It was here that I found Jacka Brothers' Brewery - originally a flour mill built in 1878, this state heritage building is still largely intact. From the 1890's the flour mill ceased operations, and Jacka Brothers' Brewery produced beer and South Australian made soft drinks made with high-quality Melrose spring water.
Bill Jacka later expanded his business, building a hotel in the ghost town of Hammond where Jacka Brothers' Brewery found a thirsty new market.
Visitors to Melrose find it easy to work up a thirst as the town offers many active things to do. Trails to Mount Remarkable start mere metres from town, and you can find a comprehensive guide to the mountain bike trails here. If you want a less energetic introduction to mountain bike riding in the Flinders Ranges, ride the rail trail from Melrose to Wilmington and Beautiful Valley.
Finding accommodation in Melrose can be tricky at some times of the year. There are plenty of choices including Mt Remarkable Hotel, North Star Hotel, and Mt Remarkable Caravan Park - but do book early. I was delighted with my stay at DD's B&B which was clean, friendly and well priced. It also includes a free breakfast, and is animal-friendly.
Whatever time of the year that you visit, the Flinders Ranges in South Australia have many exciting things to see and do. Staying at Melrose in the shadow of Mount Remarkable is a great place to start your holiday experience.
Great summary Dave. It has been one of my favourites for years, and has also managed to drag me back at least once a year whether it is for a ride or a hike. Can't wait to see what they do with Jacka's Brewery.