Walk to Hills Homestead then up Mount Ohlssen Bagge for the ultimate view of Wilpena Pound
Wilpena Pound is one of the main draw cards for the Flinders Ranges National Park, a huge natural enclosure that was original used in the 1850’s for Horse breeding, turned Sheep and Cattle farm.
Mountain ridges surround most of the Wilpena Pound in a huge circular shape, hence making it such an ideal location to keep live stock. Wilpena was/is called “Ikara” by the traditional land owners, the Adnyamathanha Aboriginal people, which means “meeting place”. There are different stories of what Wilpena means, some say that it means ‘rock formation’, other say it means ‘bent fingers’ and that it refers to the mountains shaped as fingers of a hand with the base being the palm. The more people asked, the more versions told.
In the centre of the Wilpena Pound is the Hills Homestead, originally built in the 1890’s, then the building that’s still standing today was erected in the early 1900’s by a Sheep farmers that leased the area.
To get a great feeling and truly see the Wilpena Pound from more than one angle, you can walk into the centre of the pound and visit the Hills Homestead, then trek up one of the many mountains to visit a vantage point that’ll allow you to see the entire area.
The Hills Homestead is around 3-4 kms from the Visitor Information centre at the car park. It’s mostly a flat trail with the option of getting on a shuttle bus for a low fee that will drop you off about 800 metres shy of the homestead. Once you’ve made it the homestead, there’s an elevated lookout about 500 metres past it.
After visiting the homestead, head back towards the Wilpena Pound tourist info centre and about 2/3rd’s of the way back, there’s the Mount Ohlssen Bagge trail that will take you over 400 metres in elevation to the summit of the mountain where you’ll be greeted with unspoiled views of the entire Wilpena Pound, then turn around a look over the mountains and plains in the opposite direction.
In total, it’s around a 7-8 hour walk and you’ll cover about 10-11 kms. There’s a few different ways that you can take which will change the level of difficulty and distance.
Here’s a video of when we did it:
Walking straight out to the Hills Homestead from the Wilpena Pound Visitor Information Centre is very easy. It’s about 3-4 km depending on which route you take, there’s little elevation and not a lot of effort to navigate the trail as it’s well signed. If that’s still a bit too far, consider taking the shuttle bus that will drop you off about 800 metres shy of the homestead. Once you get there, there are a few different trails, look outs and toilets.
Heading up to the Mount Ohlssen Bagge summit is difficult. It’s not too far, but very steep and some parts require a little bit of climbing for a few metres, although most people with a relatively decent to moderate fitness level will be able to make it with no worries, just take it slow with plenty of rest stops and water. We saw anyone from young children to somewhat elderly people making it up the trail.
It’s around 3-4 kms from the visitor info centre out to the Homestead. The closest lookout is around 250 metres past the home stead, with another one that’s 500 metres from the homestead.
Hiking directly from the visitor info centre to the Mount Ohlssen Bagge trail summit is just under 4kms and will take about 3-3.5 hours, unless you’re a regular and fit hiker, then it shouldn’t take more than 2 hours each way.
Completing both trails in the one go is around 10-11 kms, depending exactly which route you take (as sometimes you’ve got a couple of well signed slightly varying options) and if you visit the lookouts in the centre of the Wilpena Pound.
There’s very little elevation between the Wilpena Pound info centre and the Hills Homstead.
From the info centre to the top of the Mount Ohlssen Bagge trail results in about 420-430 metres of elevation gained. The summit is 923 metres above sea level.
There’s a large car park with plenty of room at the Wilpena Pound info centre, alongside toilets and a nearby campground.
There are also toilets out at the Hills Homestead.
Closest place to buy food & drinks
Right next to the tourist info centre is an IGA that has just about anything you’ll need for a day of hiking or camping near by. It even has a small selection of hot food and plenty of cold drinks.
The Wilpena Pound, including the info centre and Mount Ohlssen Bagge trail are all within the Flinders Ranges National Park, & being a national park, no pets are allowed.
If you’re staying at the Rawnsley Park Caravan Park, they have dog sitting options for $20 per day.
Getting to the Wilpena Pound
If you’re coming from Adelaide or almost anywhere in the south, head to Hawker then take Flinders Ranges Way – this will be well signed for the ‘Flinders Ranges National Park’ and Wilpena Pound. You’ve got to make sure that you don’t keep following the highway through Hawker towards Parachilna Gorge, although it is possible to loop back around via Blinman, yet it’ll take several hours.
After exiting Hawker, it’s around a 30 minute drive/50 km’s to reach the Wilpena Pound tourist info centre. You’ll take Flinders Ranges Way almost the whole way, then turn off to the left, the turn off is well signed and very hard to miss. It’s just a couple of minutes drive from the turn off to the car park.
When coming from Blinman, it’s around a 50 minute drive until you reach the turn off that’s on your right.
Accommodation & Camping
There are loads of accommodation options near the Wilpena Pound.
Right near the tourist info centre is the Wilpena Pound Caravan Park and the Wilpena Pound Resort. There are also several hikers campsites, but they’re a long trek away. Keep in mind, no pets are allowed at any of these places.
For a larger caravan park that’s only about 25 minutes away, consider Rawnsley Park Station, where dogs are allowed and there are on-site dog sitting options.
If you’re looking for an unforgettable bush camping experience at a free campground, head to Blinman and turn left towards Parachilna, then choose one of the many campsites in the Parachilna Gorge.