Hotel Highlights

  • Gorgeous heritage Homestead, with stylish sheep station design details
  • Delicious all-inclusive dining, teamed with world-famous local wines
  • Vast outback setting, best explored via Arkaba's swag-camp glamping walk

Overview

For an iconic Australian adventure, you can't beat Arkaba Station & Walk hotel in the Flinders Ranges, an elegant 1850s homestead and sheep station set in 60,000 acres of awe-inspiring private wilderness. Design details pay homage to the property's hard-working heritage, from wool sack-wrapped bedside tables to sheepskin hot-water bottles. All-inclusive dining, with world-beating wines, makes for convivial times indoors; outside kangaroo- and emu-watching awaits, or team a stay with Arkaba's fab swag-camp glamping trek.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Arkaba Station & Walk with us:

An assortment of Australian Bush Spices

Facilities

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Need To Know

Rooms

Five at the exclusive-hire Arkaba homestead, which sleeps two to 10. You can also book Arkaba's three-night guided walk (for two to eight; or 10 for private groups), sleeping in cosy campsite swag beds for two nights with a last night at Arkaba Station.

Check–out

11am; check-in, from 2pm. To guarantee an earlier check-in, you'll need to prebook the room for the day before. Walks depart Thursdays from the Homestead after a briefing at 10am, and also on Saturdays in September and October.

Rates

Double rooms from $1339.76 (AU$1,436), excluding tax at 10 per cent.

More details

Homstead rates include all meals, select drinks and daily scheduled activities from guided walks to 4WD wildlife safaris and mountain biking; a two-night minimum stay applies. The Arkaba Walk includes guides, all meals, select drinks, snacks and swags.

Also

Arkaba will bring out your inner twitcher, with gorgeous native birds including pink-hued, noisy Galahs flocking the trees around the property. You'll also spy three kinds of kangaroo (Euros, Reds and Greys) and emu if you're lucky. We love the little wildlife booklet in each room listing local species for you to tick off as you go. Make time to visit the historic Woolshed nearby, too, still in use during shearing season.

At the hotel

Dining room, terrace, library with books, magazines and board games, boutique, pool, mountain bikes with helmets, gardens. In rooms: pillow menu, Australian bird book and binoculars, sheepskin hot-water bottles, eco-friendly Serendipity toiletries, hairdryer on request. On walk: head-torches, thermos flasks, swag beds, bush showers and eco-loo, support vehicle for transporting luggage between camps. You're unlikely to get mobile phone reception out here, but there's a landline and computer at the Homestead for guests' use in emergencies, and guides on the walk carry radios.

Our favourite rooms

All five Homestead rooms are spacious and elegant, with a simple heritage feel teamed with modern comforts and evocative rural details such as ostrich-egg lamp stands, native animal prints and cow-hide rugs. If you're partial to a roll-top bath ask for the large Rashid Room or standalone Coachman's Cottage across the garden. The Bartholameus Room has the biggest shower and a skinny, day-bed-strewn sitting area. We also love the cosier yet chic Elder and Chace rooms. All give onto airy verandas dotted with lounge chairs, perfect for perusing Flinders views.

Poolside

Cool off in Arkaba's outdoor pool, a compact, linear number with serene views out to Arkaba Creek, hills and bush. Pool towels and dressing gowns are available, and there are a few loungers beckoning on the deck for sunset cocktails. As it's unheated, it may get nippy in winter.

Packing tips

A hat and sunglasses are essential in this baking wilderness region (sunscreen and mosquito repellant are provided). Walkers should bring worn-in boots, a small, comfy day-pack, water bottle (or camel bladder for sipping as you stroll) and a trusty stick. A camera with a change of battery is vital for kangaroo- and emu-snapping. Take light clothing for summer and warm layers for winter, including a beanie, scarf and gloves, plus some smarter threads for hanging out in the Homestead.

Also

Smoking is not permitted in the Homestead, Coach House or on the terrace, but is accectable by the firepit in the garden. Guests should beware of the risk of fire from any butts dropped, especially during the dry season.

Children

Due to its intimate scale and wild bush setting, Arkaba only welcomes children aged eight or over (12 and above for the Walk). If you take over the property exclusively, it's possible to bring younger kids, so long as suitable supervision is arranged.

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Pet‐friendly

No pets are permitted to protect sheep and native animals.

Eco‐friendly

Arkaba is involved with conservation efforts across its 60,000-acre property, including protecting native species and plants, eliminating introduced feral animals such as foxes, cats and goats, reducing the impact of sheep farming on the bush, supporting a colony of rare Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies and spreading eco-awareness. Hot water is solar-generated at the Homestead, with no TVs, electric kettles, minibars or phones in rooms, and food and wine is mainly locally sourced, organic and home-grown. A decanter of rainwater is refilled on bedside tables each night, with no plastic bottles on-site. Extreme care is taken at swag camps and on walks to minimise impact on the environment, and although still a working sheep station, Arkaba has created a wildlife sanctuary on its grounds.

Food & Drink

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Hotel Restaurant

You can almost see the waistlines expanding at Arkaba, where New Zealand chef Richard Cocoran whips up fabulous all-inclusive meals, drawing on local South Australian food and wines, and starring seasonal, organic and home-grown produce (such as wild limes and quandongs). The good life kicks off at breakfast, when guests help themselves to house-made bircher muesli and yoghurt, home-baked breads and jams, fruit salad and Nespresso coffees, enjoyed around the convivial wooden table in the country-style dining room. Richard will knock you up eggs, any way, if you prefer. Delicious lunch and dinner dishes, such as salmon and polenta or saffron-infused spaghetti with vegetables, mix modern influences with native twists.

Hotel Bar

Help yourself from the well-stocked fridge by the outdoor terrace lounge, bulging with an enviable collection of champagne, South Australian wines (we're talking Barossa and Clare Valley tipples), beer and soft drinks. Quaffing from the select open-bar is all-inclusive here, with the team happy to advise you or match wines with food. Canapés, cocktails and wine are served each night before dinner to get the party started.

Last orders

Meals are timed around you, but dinner is normally served between 7pm and 8.30pm.

Room service

There's no room service at this intimate retreat, but you're welcome to help yourself anytime to snacks, coffee, tea or fruit from the kitchen, including tasty cookies and cakes care of Richard.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Smart-casual, notching up the elegance come evening. Imagine you're visiting fortunate friends in the country.

Top table

In winter, the cosy table in the kitchenside breakfast room should get your vote. On sunny days, eat alfresco at the generous terrace table, which reflects the surrounding landscape in its sexy glass-topped surface.

Local Guide

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Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Local restaurants

You're in the remote Flinders Ranges, with all-inclusive wining and dining at Arkaba Station or on the Walk, so don't expect a KFC to pop up in the bush! The nearest pubs are in small local country town Hawker, or you can pick up supplies at Wilpena Pound's resort food store. For good restaurants, bars or wineries en route see our Adelaide and Clare Valley desination guides, or check out our Barossa Valley and Kangaroo Island options if you're planning a South Australia itinerary.

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Outback galore

Arkaba Station & Walk

Wilpena Road, Flinders Ranges, South Australia 5434, Australia

Arkaba Station is set on a vast, private sheep station in South Australia's Flinders Ranges, within sight of Wilpena Pound, and easy reach of Adelaide.

Planes

Fly into South Australia's capital Adelaide (www.aal.com.au), serviced by flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Perth and Alice Springs. International flights also swing in from Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Bali and Fiji. Qantas, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific (among others) fly to Adelaide from overseas, with domestic flights (Qantas, Virgin Blue, Tiger and Jetstar) winging in from around Australia. The airport is six kilometres west of the city centre. From Adelaide, you can take a scheduled flight north to Port Augusta every day except Saturdays with Sharp Airlines (www.sharpairlines.com), followed by a 75-minute drive to Arkaba. Private charter flights are also available from Adelaide's General Aviation area, opposite the Main Terminal, for the one-hour flight to Hawker Airstrip, followed by a 25-minute car transfer from Arkaba (road transfers are included in rates). En route, you'll pass over the scenic Clare Valley and Mid-North wine region. You can also charter a plane from Kangaroo Island, south of Adelaide, departing from either Kingscote Airport or Vivonne Bay (handy for Smith stay Southern Ocean Lodge), and taking 90 minutes to Hawker. Charter aircraft can cater for two, five or 10 passengers, depending on which plane you commandeer.

Trains

Operated by Great Southern Rail (13 21 47 or +61 (0)8 8213 4592; www.gsr.com.au), interstate trains (the Ghan from Darwin, the Overland from Melbourne, the Indian Pacific from Sydney and Perth, and the Southern Spirit from Brisbane) chug into the Adelaide Parklands Terminal, just south west of the centre, although flying is faster. From Adelaide, it's generally quickest and most affordable to hop on a plane or drive to reach the hotel. The luxurious Ghan, however, does link up well with Arkaba, travelling in both directions between Darwin and Adelaide. En route you can take in Red Centre outback towns Katherine and Alice Springs, or bookend your journey with sidetrips to Smith stays Bamurru Plains, near Darwin, or Southern Ocean Lodge, on Kangaroo Island. When you book request a ticketed stop at Port Augusta, an hour and a quarter from Arkaba, and the hotel will arrange a car transfer from there.

Automobiles

Arkaba Station is a four-and-a-half-hour drive north of Adelaide on a sealed tarmac road, or about five to six hours if you route via the Clare Valley with stops to eat or check out wineries (Smith hotel North Bundaleer makes a handy overnight stay if you want to break up the journey). The drive from Port Augusta takes about 75 minutes. The usual hire-car options are available at Adelaide Airport or in town.

Other

If you don't have your own wheels, Genesis Tour & Charter (+61 (0)8 8552 4000; www.genesistours.com.au) runs a minibus service from Adelaide to Hawker for AU$140 return, taking about five hours with short stops en route. It departs from Adelaide's Central Bus Station at 7am Mondays and Thursdays, arriving at Hawker at 12.50pm; returning Tuesdays and Fridays at 11.20am from Hawker and reaching Adelaide at 5.30pm.

Reviews

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Anonymous review

by Sophie Davies , Expert editor

David Attenborough, eat your heart out. After trekking through South Australia’s mind-bendingly beautiful Flinders Ranges, I can identify three types of kangaroo, tell an 'elegant' parrot from a red-rumped one, and spot a velvet potato bush at 20 paces. Heck, I can even distinguish kangaroo poo from fox or emu droppings (the latter looks like freaky green ectoplasm).

This is &lsqu...

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Arkaba Station & Walk

Anonymous review by Sophie Davies, Expert editor

David Attenborough, eat your heart out. After trekking through South Australia’s mind-bendingly beautiful Flinders Ranges, I can identify three types of kangaroo, tell an 'elegant' parrot from a red-rumped one, and spot a velvet potato bush at 20 paces. Heck, I can even distinguish kangaroo poo from fox or emu droppings (the latter looks like freaky green ectoplasm).

This is ‘glamping’, Arkaba Station style, where I’m teaming a three-day hike between stylish swag camps with a last evening of cosseting comfort in a sheep station-turned-haute homestead. You don’t need to accessorise with cowboy boots, a wide-brimmed hat and a horse, but we’re talking Big Country here; endless, sunrise-licked horizons and arid, pinky-red peaks.

Rocking up to the Flinders Ranges is half the fun; most folk drive north from Adelaide for five hours, stopping off to quaff at Barossa and Clare Valley vineyards. This Ms Smith (minus her Mr Smith, who’s busy back at the ranch) keeps it real, departing from Adelaide’s Central Station by bus, which calls in at every two-bit general store en route. Passing through arable flatlands dotted with sleepy towns called Yakka, Stone Hut and Quorn, I really feel like I’m going bush. By the time my host Brendon (a charming former safari guide) picks me up at Hawker for the short spin to Arkaba, I’m channeling Bear Grylls.

My Arkaba Station sojourn kicks off with the guided walking safari. Booted and briefed, our group of five – hailing from Canada, Brisbane and Melbourne – are driven to geological wonder Wilpena Pound. A vast natural amphitheatre, it’s an ancient rock bowl filled with tall trees. You’d think a meteorite had struck earth, but this crazy crater was actually shaped by the land uplifting over millennia. Our jaws collectively drop.

After hiking across the Pound, we drop down the ridge edge to our first campsite, Black Gap. A mob of emus is huddled nearby. Just as I start getting festival-tent flashbacks, our Scottish guide Kat shows us to our sleekly simple swag beds. Elevated on individual wooden platforms, each consists of a cosy roll of canvas bedding stuffed with soft blankets and a pillow, which can be covered with a canopy. All are angled to maximise the forest views and the epic Pound beyond. We’re kipping like the drovers of old, albeit with obliging staff to cater to our every whim.

Cue a three-course dinner starring beetroot and orange salad, followed by fish grilled on the campfire by our cheery cook Stuart. It’s all served in a semi-alfresco dining tent, with crisp white linen and chic glassware set out under pretty lanterns. We wash our gourmet grub down with South Australian reds, before gathering for drinks around the flames. It’s only when I burrow into my swag that I realize there’s something in bed with me – it’s furry, warm and doesn’t feel like one of the guides… My surprise bedfellow is in fact a sheepskin-covered hot water bottle, kindly secreted in my nest by Kat. Sweet dreams are made of this.

Emerging from my cocoon at dawn, I discover a copper bowl of heated rainwater for washing my face; beat that, Bear! I also freshen up in the shower, where a pulley-operated bucket of warm water is slung above a secluded corrugated-iron booth. One side is left open for bush views (although I’m not keen on revealing mine). Any pervy kangaroos out there? Rogue CCTV? Flashing frissons aside, it lives up to Arkaba’s mantra of ‘wildbush luxury’.

My fantasies of becoming a nude camping sensation on YouTube are trounced by one of my fellow trekkers, who missed the step of the ‘dunny’ eco-composting toilet shack in the night – despite donning a miner’s head torch – and commando-rolled into a ditch. It sounds like a challenge from The Biggest Loser.

Inspired by our passionate guides, I fall hard for the Flinders as the trek unfolds. We wander rugged ranges and creek beds, gawping at giant, twisted Red River Gums sporting camouflage-patterned bark. Keen twitcher Kat helps us pick out the cry of the willie wagtail, laughing kookaburra and neon-chested red-capped robin. We learn about Arkaba’s conservation mission, balancing this working, 60,000-acre sheep station with a sanctuary for native animals on its land. Along the way we’re treated to snap-worthy wildlife sightings, as well as pinks, purples and mauves at sunset illuminating layers of delicate peaks. No need for Instagram filters.

Walk wrapped, we kick back for our last night at the heavenly homestead. Canapés and champagne at dusk? Don’t mind if I do. A dreamy dinner, peppered with local produce care of lodge chef Richard, at the convivial dining table? Cheers. A glass of red in the intimate library? Bliss. We even fit in a star-gazing session led by astronomy-geek Stuart, brandishing a Star Wars-esque laser to point out the constellations. If you think you see stars in the city, you’re sadly mistaken.

Natural thrills aside, this elegant 1850s homestead will appeal to style addicts. Its five rural-chic rooms have a strong sense of place, decked out with gum-nut curtain ties, old sheep shears and animal prints by a local artist. Creature features abound, from cowhide rugs to ostrich-egg lamp stands, merino bedheads and woolsack-wrapped bedside tables. Some boudoirs boast roll-top baths, but I’m content with the Chace Room’s toasty shower with vintage-glam gold taps. I sleep like a queen and rise to take tea on the mellow terrace, feeling like Scarlett O’Hara surveying Tara.

Rebooted by a breakfast of Nespresso coffee and tasty house-made bread, jam and Bircher muesli, I venture out with the homestead’s charismatic former owner Dean Rasheed for another trip to Wilpena Pound. We climb up to a look-out, then swing by Arkaba’s heritage woolshed, where you can still see shearing in season (Dean used to round up the sheep on a trailbike with his dogs). Finally, we four-wheel drive up the ridges to scope Wilpena at sunset.

Consummate hosting, fabulous food, romantic ranch living and natural eye-candy make Arkaba Station unforgettable. Sure, you may rough it a bit on the trail, but you can luxe it up at the homestead afterwards. Uluru may be Australia’s most iconic outback experience, but the Flinders Ranges are more accessible and far less touristy. We hardly see any other people during our adventures – and that’s just the way the kangaroos and emus like it.

The Guestbook

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