Being a Sydneysider living in the big smoke all my life, I got to see something on my hike in the Flinders Ranges that I rarely get to see properly: the stars. It was a brilliant dusty cloud of silver spread thick across the night sky, and for the first time in my life I started noticing its constellations. Gusts of freezing wind would howl against the walls of my open-air sleeping deck while I lay gazing upwards, but I was immune to the chill, cocooned in an impossibly warm swag. Having complete warmth where, inches outside my swag, was unbearable cold was a giddying sensation.
I had the pleasure of experiencing the beautifully rugged 3-day Arkaba Walk in South Australia, courtesy of Wild Bush Luxury – a trail fantastically enormous in scope and 600 million geological years in the making. The guided walk takes hikers over Wilpena Pound, before the intimidating Elder Ranges which glow majestically red against the afternoon sun. Kangaroos, emus and colourful birds speckle the landscape and diverse scenery ranges from earthy dried up creek beds to sweeping views atop mountains. Our passionate guides would periodically make stops to point out local flora and fauna and explain their fascinating secrets.
When you arrive at camp, The Arkaba Walk turns into an open air luxury glamping experience with unique touches to make it distinctly ‘outback’. Enclosed spaces are done away with. All facilities are built to be wide open in an effort to ensure that every possible ounce of your time is spent in admiration of your surroundings. Sleeping is done in sheltered decks with the option to pull your swag out to spend the night under the stars. Dining sheds are strategically placed against terrific backdrops, showers are cleverly designed to provide privacy while openly facing stunning scenery (bush showers are a fantastically liberating experience), and even the view from the bush dunny is a visual treat.
Staff transformed from knowledgeable experts to busy hosts, tirelessly cooking our gourmet 3-course dinners, hauling up buckets of heated shower water, topping off our wine glasses and fetching us cold beers. Everything had been thought of, from our overnight luggage which was courteously transported from camp to camp and delivered to our sleeping quarters, to hot beverages which were brought to us in bed so that we could sip something while watching the sun peak over the hills.
We seldom consider South Australia when we organise our domestic getaways. Plans are usually hijacked by the allure of glitzy theme parks and beaches of Queensland, or the chic urban escapes to Melbourne or Sydney. But South Australia’s secret is slowly coming out as travellers grow increasingly aware of the wonderful things the state has to offer. The Arkaba Walk is certainly among the best of these, a resoundingly impressive showcase of South Australia’s rugged natural beauty. Combine this with a luxurious glamping approach and you have an experience that ought to be featured high on your bucket list.