Six of the best: Flinders Ranges outlooks

WILPENA POUND

If you have the budget to splurge on a scenic flight then do so, because the Flinders Ranges' most striking landform is gobsmacking from above. Wilpena Pound looks like the site of a crashed meteor but is actually an eroded valley of which nothing remains but a gigantic circle of quartzite cliffs. Meanwhile, you'll spot other rugged ranges in every direction. For a budget view, you could hike to Bridal Gap or the pound's highest point, St Mary Peak, though the latter is an all-day heart-banger. The easily reached Wangara Lookout is a laid back but still panoramic option. See wrightsair.com.au

BUNYEROO VALLEY LOOKOUT

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Bunyeroo Valley Lookout (credit SATC)

Bunyeroo Valley Lookout. Photo: Adam Bruzzone

You're assaulted by the power of landscapes everywhere along Bunyeroo Valley Scenic Drive, an unsurfaced road that you can tackle by 4WD or if you're brave (beware of the heat and numerous climbs) by mountain bike. There are great views of the eastern ramparts of Wilpena Pound. At Bunyeroo Valley Lookout, a full-on collision of colour-banded mountain ridges rears in almost every direction. If you're an early enough riser, come here for sunrise, when first light sparks the scenery in flamboyant orange and red and nobody is around. You won't leave disappointed. See parks.sa.gov.au

RAZORBACK OUTLOOK

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Razorback Ridge Outlook (credit SATC)

Razorback Ridge Outlook. Photo: Adam Bruzzone

This outlook captures the classic Flinders panorama, the one you used to see everywhere on postcards and calendars, and is now endlessly immortalised on Instagram. It isn't much further past Bunyeroo Valley Lookout. The road heaves like a rollercoaster across arid hills and finally coughs you up on this ridgetop, which gazes towards the ragged, almost-purple Heysen Range. Be sure to get out of the car and trot down the dirt path for the full spectacle from the base of a twisted tree, denuded of leaves. It's surely the best spot in the entire splendid Flinders Ranges. See parks.sa.gov.au

BRACHINA LOOKOUT

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Brachina Gorge (credit SATC/Maxime Coquard)

Brachina Gorge Geological Trail. Photo: Maxime Coquard

The Brachina Gorge Geological Trail brings you on a 20-kilometre geological journey best experienced in the late afternoon, when orange cliffs clash with blue river boulders, rock wallabies emerge, and the rocks are starting to blush pink. Every mineral deposit on the buckled sides of the ancient, crumbling gorge is as clear as the layers in a French cake. Eventually you emerge at Brachina Lookout, which at any other time of day is dusty and eye-blinding. At sunset, however, the fireball colours are magnificent as you gaze across treeless plains that seem to stretch to infinity. See parks.sa.gov.au

PUGILIST HILL LOOKOUT

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Pugilist Hill Lookout (credit SATC/Maxime Coquard)

Pugilist Hill Lookout. Photo: Maxime Coquard

While there are umpteen scenic spots on the sides of Wilpena Pound itself, this distant (and generally overlooked) spot atop a small, humped hill enables you to see the whole formation, its purple-red cliffs rearing on the horizon like a landscape from another planet in a science-fiction movie. You're facing west, making sunset the perfect time to be here with your Champagne bottle. Don't forget to glance behind you, though, at the Chance Range as it sinks into a dark and soon star-spangled sky. You'll find Pugilist Hill on the Flinders Ranges Way, near Rawnsley Park Station. See southaustralia.com

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BLACK GAP LOOKOUT

The 30-kilometre dirt track of the Moralana Scenic Drive is one of the Flinders Ranges' more sedate driving routes, usually navigable in a regular car (though not after rain) and taking you through gentle, pastoral countryside dotted with Callitris pine forest and, near creek beds, splendid red river gums. The Elder Range in the distance looms steadily nearer. Don't miss the two-kilometre detour to Black Gap Lookout, which sits above a compact gorge and provides a wonderful squint at the Elder Range, Red Range and the rearing side of Wilpena Pound. See southaustralia.com

The writer travelled at his own expense.

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