Flinders Ranges, Australia

Arkaba

Rates from (inc tax)$1,234.19

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (21AUD), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Wild at heart

Setting

Outback galore

Discover the true Australian Outback in the Flinders Rangers at Arkaba hotel, a restored 1850s homestead and private wildlife sanctuary with 60,000 awe-inspiring acres. Rustic design features, such as wool sack-wrapped bedside tables, reflect the property’s hard-working heritage. All-inclusive fine dining with enviable wines awaits guests after a tough day of kangaroo- and emu-watching.

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An assortment of Australian bush spices

Facilities

Photos Arkaba Station & Walk Hotel – Flinders Ranges – Australia

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 $1234.19 (AU$1,618), excluding tax at 10 per cent.

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (AUD1,780.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

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 is a private wildlife sanctuary; a stay here 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.

Hotel closed

The Homestead is open year-round, but the Arkaba Walk only operates from 14 March to 3 November to avoid the high-summer heat. Walks depart each Thursday, and also on Saturdays in peak walking months September and October.

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 acceptable by the firepit in the garden. Guests should beware of the risk of fire from any butts dropped, especially during the dry season.

Pet‐friendly

No pets are permitted to protect sheep and native animals. See more pet-friendly hotels in Flinders Ranges.

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.

Overview

Children aged 12 or older are welcome on the Arkaba Walk, and kids aged eight or above for Homestead stays, although younger children can be accommodated at the Homestead when it's hired exclusively.

Best for

Adventurous, active children aged 12 or over who will enjoy the Arkaba Walk. Younger kids will love the wildlife sightings on shorter safari drives from the Hometstead, but most activities would suit those aged five or above best.

Recommended rooms

For extra privacy and peace, opt for the separate Coachman's Cottage at Arkaba Homestead, which sits just across the garden from the main lodge. There's room for a kids' swag bed on the floor in the bedroom or adjoining dressing room.

Activities

At the Homestead, kids can play out on the lawn, swim in the pool, check out the horses and sheep around the grounds, or chill out indoors with board games (it's a delightfully TV-free zone though). Wildlife safaris by car or local walks are also a must to spy three types of kangaroo, emus, sheep and birds, and children will love the binoculars, bird compendium and notebook for jotting down the species they've seen. Older kids will also enjoy a visit to the old Arkaba Woolshed, a five-minute drive away, which is still used for sheep shearing in season (usually August). Treks in and around Wilpena Pound, a short drive away, are also jaw-dropping, with striking trees and rock formations, and look-outs for taking in the scene. Kids aged 12 or over are welcome on the Arkaba Walk, where nights are spent in swag beds on open-air platforms (covered by tents if it rains), with alfresco showers and toilet huts. The walk is moderate to challanging, so should suit most fit children, with only a few uphill slogs. En route, guides will keep kids entertained with fascinating information about the local flora, fauna, geology and indigenous history, as well as hilarious insights into animal droppings.

Swimming pool

Children are welcome in the small, unheated pool, which has a safety fence, but there are no lifeguards on duty, so parents will need to keep a close eye on the kids.

Rates

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.

Meals

Dining is very flexible at Arkaba Homestead, with Richard, the chef, happy to adapt dishes to suit junior palates. Kids will love the home-made bread, jams, yoghurt, cakes and muesli bar snacks on offer, and will enjoy the casual, campfire cooking if they're on the Arkaba Walk. Meal times are also flexible, and can be organised around family body clocks.

Babysitting

Babysitting isn't available at Arkaba.

No need to pack

You'll need to bring your own baby cot, high chair and child car-seat, as kids' kit isn't supplied by the hotel.

Also

Of the main Homestead Guest Rooms, Rasheed and Bartolameus are the largest, so would also work well if you need to accommodate an extra child's swag bed. Note, there's no mobile phone reception at Arkaba, but there is a landline number which can be shared with family as an emergency contact.

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 and Drink

Photos Arkaba Station & Walk Hotel – Flinders Ranges – Australia

At the hotel

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.

At the 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.

Location

Photos Arkaba Station & Walk Hotel – Flinders Ranges – Australia
Address
Arkaba
Wilpena Road,
5434
Flinders Ranges
Australia

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 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.

Worth getting out of bed for

If you're staying at Arkaba, make the most of the early morning and late afternoon activities, when the chance of spying wildlife is greatest and the light at its best. Guided or self-guided local walks, four-wheel-drive safaris and wildlife viewing are all top choices, with three types of kangaroo, amazing emu and wow-worthy bird sightings all common, backdropped by epic rocky ranges and rolling hills. Arkaba's passionate, knowledgable guides Kat and Stuart make trips into the outback unforgettable. You can also check out the historic Arkaba Woolshed nearby. Mountain bike rides, trips to local look-outs and Adnyamathanha aboriginal rock art sites are all up for grabs. Be sure to take a tour of amazing crater-shaped geological wonder Wilpena Pound, an ancient natural amphitheatre, 17 kilometres long by seven kilometres wide, that's now part of the Flinders Ranges National Park. Then again, you can always chill out in the Library, outdoors on the terrace or poolside with a book about local artist hero Hans Heysen and a fine South Australian wine in hand. At night, ask Stuart to host an impromptu star-gazing session – his knowledge of the constellations borders on geeky-genius.

 

Smith recommends teaming a Homestead stay with the three-day, 40-kilometre overland Arkaba Walk (you'll spend two nights camping out, with the third evening back at the hotel) – a jaw-droppingly gorgeous ramble through Red River Gum-dotted creek beds, over purple-hued ranges and occasionally up puff-inducing hills. It's moderately challenging, so you'll need to be fairly fit and confident about picking your way over stones, but the chance to sleep in iconic Aussie swag beds at two view-blessed camp sites, eat fab food prepared over the fire, and scope kangaroos and emus is not to be missed. Alfresco bush showers (hot, of course) and eco-loos with a view add to the sense of adventure, but fine cuisine, wine and sheepskin hot-water bottles ensure luxe comforts. What's more, you'll have 60,000 acres pretty much to yourself, as Arkaba's private land is crisscrossed only by one scenic road and the Heysen Trail, so you're unlikely to see a member of the public for days. With the walk kicking off in National Park-owned Wilpena Pound, you can take in the Flinders' most fantastic geological formation to boot, as well as rock fossils, wedge-tail eagle's nests, spectacular stripy bark and delicate flowers.

 

Walks depart on Thursdays (and Saturdays in peak season), following a briefing at 10am at the Homestead, for two to eight people for shared group walks or up to 10 for private groups (the minimum age for kids is 12). Day One (approximately 12 kilometres; four to five hours) starts with a road transfer to Wilpena Pound, where the walk kicks off around 11am, with the chance to ascend a look-out before crossing the epic, tree-filled bowl of the Pound and descending from its rocky lip to Black Gap camp below. Part of this walk dovetails with the famous Heysen Trail. The first night in your swag beds is spent here, with views back up to the Pound. Day Two (a more demanding 10–14 kilometres; six to seven hours) takes you through striking creek bed trails and over flower-flocked countryside towards the foothills of the Elder Range. A moderate uphill effort at the end brings you to the top of the Red Range, where orange-hued cliffs, Grass Trees and huge vistas await, before you descend to the shelter of Elder Camp. Day Three (10–14 kilometres; six to seven hours) promises a mix of habitat, from native pine and Mallee trees to river beds and hillside ridges, bringing you back to Arkaba Homestead. Guests spend the third night at the Homestead for a dash of pampering, with the choice to sleep in or enjoy a short, optional local walk to the Woolshed (six kilometres round trip) or activity such as a scenic flight on the fourth morning.

 

Remember though, this is glamping, so you need only bring a small day-pack to carry on the hike, along with a plastic water bottle or camel bladder, good boots, a rainproof jacket and a mix of layers to cater for all weather eventualities. Arkaba supply the five double swag beds on permanent raised decks (and tents to cover them if it rains) at each camp site, water, thermos flasks of hot tea or coffee and snacks for the trail, head torches and all food, cooking gear, bedding, towels and toiletries. Meals are a mix of campfire-cooked treats and fine-dining fare, ferried from the Homestead. Each camp has two waterless, composting toilets and two bush showers with warm water. Walks are accompanied by a knowledgable guide (with one guide for every six guests), and a second staff member in a support vehicle, who will transfer the rest of your kit (bring a soft bag), including your clothes and personal items, to the next campsite each day. Guides carry Sat phones and radios for emergencies, but don't expect your mobile to get reception. Bring a fully charged camera, as sightings of Red, Euro and Grey kangaroos are common, alongside emu and wonderful birds.

Arkaba's team can also arrange scenic, half-hour flights over Wilpena Pound, the Elder Range and the sheep station, but be sure to book before your stay. You can also combine a trip here with a scenic flight over Lake Eyre further north, where flamingos and birdlife make for friend-impressing snaps.

Local restaurants

You're in the remote Flinders Ranges, with all-inclusive wining and dining at Arkaba 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.

Reviews

Photos Arkaba Station & Walk Hotel – Flinders Ranges – Australia

Anonymous review

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 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 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 60,000-acre former 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 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

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith Hotel with us, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Arkaba’s Guestbook below.

We loved

The luxury safari-type of experience.

Don’t expect

A spa getaway or a children's playground.

Rating

Stayed on 24 Dec 2015