12 Day Itinerary in the South Australian Outback

12 Day Itinerary in the South Australian Outback

Suggested Itinerary

12 days from Adelaide

Time to dust off the Akubra! This outback itinerary will take you on a fun and adventurous road trip into the South Australian Outback.

Aussie Travel Code Tip: Always carry a satellite phone, water and spare non-perishable food. These roads are moderately easy to handle in good conditions as long as you, and your vehicle, are prepared. 

  • Adelaide to Clare Valley for an overnight stay in wine country
  • Clare Valley to Andamooka via the Southern Flinders
  • 3 nights in Andamooka to discover opals, fossils and astronomy
  • Andamooka to Marree for outback hospitality and history
  • Marree to Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary for nature-based adventure
  • Blinman Mine and Adnyamathanha culture on the way to Parachilna
  • Finish with 2 luxurious nights at the Prairie Outback Lodge

Adelaide to Clare Valley

Take the scenic route towards the Outback with an overnight stay in Clare Valley on your way out. Enjoy the cellar doors and rolling hills of this renowned South Australian wine region before packing the car for the next leg.

Clare Valley to Andamooka via Southern Flinders

Once the car has been checked, prepare to head out to the eccentric outback town of Andamooka. This leg is around 5-6 hours with minimal stops. Settle into outback time and allow the whole day to make your way out safely. You’ll find little towns, ruins, and lookouts along the way that will catch your eye, so give yourself time to enjoy those unexpected discoveries.

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Have some delightful snacks while watching the sunset and waiting for the stars to come up

3 Nights in Andamooka: Opals, Fossils and Astronomy

Andamooka is well off the beaten track, even by outback standards, but this tiny opal-mining town has a huge amount of personality. Stay a few nights to soak up the character and unique tours on offer.

Take a stargazing tour, go noodling for opals and learn how to find a claim and try your luck at opal mining. Visit the Andamooka Observatory and browse the pop-up book shop and art exhibition space. See the Andamooka Tiger, an impressive hand-carved statue with opal eyes and claws created by local stonemason, Cal the Stoner. Drop by Cal’s studio to see what else he’s up to.

Andamooka has a thriving community of techonologists and scientists. The surrounding landscapes have been noted as being the Earth’s closest landscape and atmosphere to Mars. The opals found here are some of the finest in the world, and it’s the only known location of an opalised dinosaur fossil.

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Looking back to the Hotel across the street from the Old Ghan Railway siding

Heritage and Outback Hospitality in Marree

After spending a few days discovering the opals, fossils and astronomical wonders of Andamooka, prepare the car again for a journey to Marree.

Marree is a historic outback town and essential service point located at the junction of the Birdsville and Oodnadatta Tracks. It’s a place for travellers from any direction to have a well-earned rest and a beautiful meal at the Marree Hotel.

The heritage-listed Marree Hotel has been welcoming outback travellers since 1883. Enjoy the hospitality, comfortable rooms and delicious meals, and the Hotel’s quirky Tom Kruse Museum, dedicated to the life story of the Outback Mailman. Explore the displays and history marked out around the town, and learn about the history of the Old Ghan Railway. See more of the beautiful surroundings on a scenic flight over the Marree Man or Kati-Thanda Lake Eyre, Australia’s largest salt lake.

Ridgetop Tour

Nature and Adventure at Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary

Do a refuel and vehicle check before leaving Marree for Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary. This direct route will take around 4 hours, but the roads are unsealed so don’t rush it. About halfway there at the turn off to Arkaroola from The Outback Highway, make a quick stop at the Copley Bush Bakery and Quandong Cafe. Refresh with a coffee and their unforgettable Quandong Tart.

Sir Douglas Mawson said it best when he described Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary as “one great outdoor museum”. A playground to astronomers, geologists, ecologists, palaeontologists, and every imaginable specialisation from the world of science, Arkaroola is a vast and magnificent area of great ecological importance in the Northern Flinders Ranges and South Australian Outback.

Many self-guided 4WD, cycling and walking tracks are available on the property, as well as award-winning guided tours and tailored experiences. Learn fascinating insights on the Ridgetop Tour, Astronomy Tours, scenic flights and guided 4WD tours.
Stay at least 2 nights in Arkaroola Village, but be prepared to want to stay longer.

When you’re ready to move on from Arkaroola, get ready to head south to Blinman.

Blinman Mine Tour
Explore the adit and stopes and learn about Cornish mining methods.

Blinman Mine and Wadna Shop

Experienced drivers can reach Blinman in around 3 hours on the Northern Flinders Road travelling south past Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park.

A tiny remote outback settlement, the town of Blinman was settled following the discovery of copper in 1852. Take the Blinman Mine Tour for a fascinating insight into the tough lives of the Cornish miners (bookings essential).

After the mine tour, follow the signs on the main street to a little tin shed that houses the Wadna shop on the edge of town. Wadna was founded by Adnyamathanha man, Kristian Coulthard, and his wife, Gaby, in 2020. The shop is a showcase of Adnyamathanha culture, knowledge and creations. Browse stunning artworks by First Nations artists, handmade jewellery and Kristian’s hand-hewn woodwork amongst many other beautiful items.

Kristian also offers a range of Cultural Tours on Adnyamathanha Country, including an incredible guided experience of Arkaroo Rock, an ancient petroglyph site showing traditional ochre and charcoal paintings.

From Blinman, drive another half an hour or so to Parachilna to finish your Outback road trip on a high note.

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Parachilna - Prairie Outback Lodge

Spend two nights at the Prairie Outback Lodge for an elegant retreat in relaxed outback luxury.

With only a limited number of rooms available at the Lodge, The Prairie ensures each guest enjoys highly personalised service and thoughtfully curated itineraries throughout their stay. Their amazing itineraries can include a gourmet private dining experience with The Prairie's Executive Chef, and exclusive guided tours of the region’s natural wonders by both air and road.

After so long on the road you may simply prefer to relax; visit the onsite Art Gallery, enjoy the atmosphere in the Brew Bar and unwind in the beautifully appointed accommodation, enjoying peace and privacy for the last few days of your unforgettable adventure in the South Australian Outback.

Parachilna to Adelaide

Wind your way back through the Flinders Ranges towards Adelaide. Stop for a refresher in Hawker or Quorn, or slow down for lunch and a final history tour in Peterborough.

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