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  1. Travel Type Road Trip
  2. Route features: mountains, wildlife and desert
  3. Activity level High activity

Explorers Way: See Flinders Ranges, Outback and Clare Valley

The breathtaking scenery of the outback is beautifully entwined with the history of South Australia along the Explorer's Way. The 3000 kilometre journey from Adelaide to Darwin takes you through the Clare Valley, one of South Australia’s famous wine regions, before making its way to the spectacular Flinders Ranges and into the outback. The vast untouched wilderness, far-reaching skies and wide-open road stretching out in front of you is unlike any other place in the world.

A woman stands with a bike in front of a tree trimmed into a dome shape
Riesling Trail, Clare Valley


This two-hour road trip will take you from the city to the country, where vineyards and yellow canola fields line the road.

Less than two hours from Adelaide, the Explorer’s Way road trip truly begins where the vineyards roll into the edges of the outback. Here, a legendary glass of riesling awaits to toast the start of your adventure. You'll find more than 50 cellar doors dotted throughout the Clare Valley, with most sitting between the towns of Auburn and Clare. The Clare Valley’s signature wine, riesling, is among the world’s best and the region is home to some of the oldest wineries and cellar doors in the state. Holding the title for the oldest winery in the region, Sevenhill Cellars was established in 1851 by Jesuits priests. Stop here to drink in the history, and a glass or two, before embarking on your own wine tour through some of Clare’s best wineries including Pikes Wines, Shut the Gate WinesSkillogaleeKilikanoon Wines and Clare Valley Brewing Co. Stay a night or two nestled amongst nature at Trestrail Cottage to make the most of your time and the wine. Spanning the 35 kilometres between Clare and Auburn, and about two hours drive from Adelaide, cyclists consider the Riesling Trail to be one of the best bike trails near Adelaide. No bicycle? No problem. Bike hire is available at a variety of locations along the trail. Ready to pump those legs? Read our in-depth, stop by stop guide for visitors hoping to cycle the Riesling Trail. Nearby, the historic town of Mintaro's crowning glory is the Martindale Hall. A short 20-minute drive from Clare, the hall is one of the prettiest country mansions in Australia, presenting as a miniature version of Britain’s Chatsworth House.

Two people walk through the middle of a rocky gorge
Alligator Gorge, Flinders Ranges


As you head into the heart of the Flinders Ranges, watch as the acres of vineyards give way to red dust and rugged plains.

Melrose is the oldest town in the Flinders Ranges, nestled at the base of Mount Remarkable. A popular spot for bushwalkers and mountain bike enthusiasts, this tiny town even has its very own mountain bike shop! After rolling through Melrose, set your sights on the Flinders Ranges and arrive at one of South Australia’s most unique national parks. Just beyond the southern reaches of the Flinders Ranges, explore an ancient landscape home to Alligator Gorge. While there are no actual alligators here, you might just stumble across some of the friendly locals with kangaroos, emus, echidna, wallabies and goannas just some of the wildlife that call the area home. The pretty town of Quorn is home to the Pichi Richi Railway, a heritage steam railway that runs between Quorn and Port Augusta. Try out the Quandong Cafe, famous for its unique quandong pie before heading on to the Devil's Peak, close to nearby bush retreat Pichi Richi Park, and Dutchmans Stern, where you will be treated to the best views overlooking a sweeping valley.

A winding road over a ridgetop at sunset with mountains in the background
Bunyeroo Valley, Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park


Discover natural wonders and timeless lands in the far reaches of the Flinders Ranges.

Journey deeper into the Flinders Ranges to perhaps South Australia’s most iconic national park, Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park. Quintessential road trip and camping country, the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park is a remote wilderness with towering clifftops, deep craters, jaw-dropping mountain ranges and dusty, red roads. Pitch your tent and fall asleep under a blanket of stars with a number of camping options available for your stay at Wilpena Pound – also known by its Adnyamathanha name of Ikara, meaning meeting place. Choose to set up camp in the designated campgrounds in a tent or find a touch of luxury with the glamping options available at Wilpena Pound Resort and luxurious eco villas available at Rawnsley Park Station. For the early risers, wake up with the sunrise to traverse the ancient peeks of the 800-million-year-old Wilpena Pound or jump on a scenic flight to appreciate its magnitude and beauty. Other highlights include Rawnsley Bluff, Razorback Lookout in Bunyeroo Gorge and Stokes Hill Lookout. After working up an appetite in Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, hit the road for an hour before arriving at the Prairie Hotel, a quintessential outback pub with a few surprises up its sleeve. 

Drive deeper into the wilds of the Flinders Ranges and arrive at your next destination, Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. Pitch your tent, because you’ll want to spend a few days exploring this fully accredited ecotourism hot spot that is known for its wild landscapes and prime stargazing opportunities. Famed as having some of the Southern Hemisphere’s clearest skies, and home to one of Australia’s largest privately-owned astronomical observatories, Arkaroola has front row seats to the most spectacular lightshow on earth. With camping and caravan facilities plus rooms available, spend a weekend with the stars and during daylight hours, explore the 63,000 hectares of rugged Australian bush abound with wildlife and adventure. Please note, you must be an extremely confident off-road driver to take the alternative route to Arkaroola or to traverse from Arkaroola to Coober Pedy via William Creek. This is an extremely remote area, please consult our Flinders Ranges and outback driving safety tips guide before heading off. 

An ariel view of a hilly desert landscape
Coober Pedy


Visit Coober Pedy and discover an underground town in the middle of the desert.   

Hidden in the South Australian outback lies one of nature’s greatest and oldest masterpieces. The vast, magical landscape of Anna Creek Painted Hills is a spectacular outcrop of otherworldly, deep orange mountains that emerge from the flat desert landscape. Carved out in the red earth of the outback, it’s hard to believe this 80-million-year-old beauty is actually an extinct inland sea. Only accessible by air, jump aboard a Wrightsair tour from Coober Pedy, William Creek or Arkaroola and you'll not only see this ancient landscape from the air, but you’ll also get to land among it and explore on the ground.

Some 800 kilometres and a few playlists later, you’ll be cruising the final South Australian stretch of the Explorer’s Way road trip. Welcome to Coober Pedy, where you can sleep deeply (underground) after your epic road trip. The backdrop to many movies, the underground mining town is famous for its sun-baked lunar landscape, fascinating history and quirky lifestyle. Descend beneath the ground and discover a labyrinth of underground houses, hotels and shops. Other must-dos while in town include visiting Crocodile Harry’s Underground Nest, The Big Miner, Umoona Opal Mine and Museum and Josephine’s Gallery and Kangaroo Orphanage. Check out our guide to the best things to do in Coober Pedy, then head to bed 25 metres below the earth’s surface. From modern dugouts to hotels tucked inside hills, and campsites burrowed into the red dirt of the outback, unearth the best places to unwind underground with our guide to Coober Pedy’s best accommodation. Up above ground, head just outside of the townsite to take in yet another breath taking outback view - the Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park.

'Community' Artwork by Gabriel Stengle


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