Mount Remarkable National Park is one of my favourite places on Earth. The camping is brilliant and the hiking is even better!
I’m going to concentrate on the Mambray Creek part of the park and the hiking you can do from there. You can either drive in and do a day hike or you can camp at Mambray Creek and use that as your base for longer hikes.
To access Mambray Creek you take the Mt Remarkable National Park turn-off from the Port Augusta highway in-between Port Pirie and Port Augusta.
The hikes here range in length and difficulty from the Wirra Water Loop, which is 1.6 km, and takes about 30 minutes to the Black Range Trek taking one day (one way) and is 22 km.
Here I am about to start off on one of my favourite hikes in the park – Hidden Gorge.
1. The Baroota Hike – a bit of history
One I’d recommend starting with is the Baroota Hike. This trail follows the Mambray Creek Walk but then breaks away with its own rugged trail that ends at the Baroota Cemetery. For some more history on the way back, I’d recommend the short detour to the old Baroota homestead ruins. I love reading about life back in those days and how tough those people were. I have so much respect for them!
The Baroota Hike is a linear trail 6 km long and takes about 2 hours return, maybe a little more if you read all the signs and really take it in. It can be done any time of day but mind the spiders at night and any time of the year. Expect some water during mid-winter to early spring with some crossings getting your feet wet.
The Baroota Homestead Ruins are a great detour to take.
2. Daveys Gully Hike – short but sweet!
Another short but fantastic hike is the Daveys Gully Hike. It’s only 2.4 km, taking about an hour, but has some of the best views there is in my opinion! I personally like to do this one just before sunset to get some great photos of the sun going down behind the Spencer Gulf. Stunning!
Daveys Gully Hike has some fantastic views and is easy to fit in as it’s short.
3. The Wirra Water loop – the best place for phone reception
There is no mobile reception at the campsites (which is why I like it there so much) but if you do need some and don’t feel like hiking a mountain, you can do the Wirra Water Loop trail (which is the shortest trail there). I slow down while I’m in the reception zone until I’ve said what I needed to say and then I follow the loop back to camp. Easy.
The awesome River Red Gums that you can actually walk through on the Wirra Water Loop.
4. Mt Cavern – my next favourite hike
Unfortunately, my favourite hike for measuring my fitness level, Mt Cavern, is still closed indefinitely. It’s a shame because that trek is brutally great! Keep an eye on the National Parks South Australia website here for the trail closure to disappear. The trek information has been removed from their site but you can read about it more here.
The Mt Cavern hike is closed at this point in time, but check back in with the NPSA website for updates!
5. Hidden Gorge – a brilliant day hike
The next hike I want to talk about is a great and fun hike for the whole family. The kids will probably find it easier than the less-fit parents but still one to try anyway!
Don’t let the 18 km of the Hidden Gorge hike turn you off! All you need is time. If you’re not super fit then allow all day to complete the trail. It’s worth it! The views and other things to see on the trail like all the different birds, reptiles, kangaroos and if you’re lucky, the yellow-footed rock wallaby will surely distract you from the overall distance.
This hike can be quite dangerous to do when there’s water laying around (which is early winter to early spring) so keep that in mind. There are some tricky sections where it’s too slippery to stand, so you’ll have to crawl or slide your way through. A great adventure to be had!
The first time I did this hike it was the first trip I ever did with my big pack which weighed about 17 kg, as it’s the shortest loop trail you can turn into an overnight hike. There was water everywhere, which I didn’t expect, and I didn’t have trekking poles back then for stabilisation while crossing streams carrying that much weight. I ended up very wet but I survived, so be careful.
A fantastic day hike that’s suitable for the whole family is Hidden Gorge.
6. Sugar Gum Lookout – a bit of a workout
If you are wanting a fairly short but reasonably hard hike there’s Sugar Gum Lookout. At 8 km return, it’s not too strenuous length-wise but there’s a bit of a sudden climb up to that lookout that could be a challenge. Of course, you could make it a challenge by running up which I don’t think I’d ever do in my life but each to their own!
Allow 3 hours for this one because you have Scarfes Hut to check out at the bottom of the climb with a sign that’s worth reading.
If you take your time, Hidden Gorge is well worth the effort.
7. Keen for an overnighter or two? try the Black Range Trek
There’s the Black Range Trek – Mambray Creek to Mt Remarkable, which passes Sugar Gum Lookout. I’d definitely recommend doing this one over two nights. I did it overnight and I could barely move the next day! Having said that I’m not the fittest person and I forgot to stretch afterwards.
It’s a 20 km trek and they say one day one way, but I think if you intend to return you should plan for two nights on the trail. Your first stop could be at Greys Hut which is over halfway to Mt Remarkable and your second stop could be at Sugar Gum Dam Camp, which is over half of the way back.
That’s what I planned on doing, however, I was making good time on day two so I worked out that if I kept on going I would make it to the trailhead on sundown. I got to my car just after dark, hurting all over after hiking 30 odd kilometres for the day. Keep in mind that it’s mountainous terrain too. Not an easy, flat, 30 km!
National Parks SA also recommends using a topographical map which could help as there are some tricky parts where the trail disappears and the way you’re meant to go isn’t obvious.
When hiking Mambray Creek to Alligator Gorge, watch out for Narrow Nosed Planigales.
8. Mambray Creek to Alligator Gorge and back
Another option for an overnighter (again, I’d recommend two nights on the trail) is Mambray Creek to Alligator Gorge and back. It’s one day one way, 22 km. I’ve done it spending two nights on the trail and as an overnighter. If you enjoy using your gear, and time is on your side, why not make it more comfortable and spend the two nights out there.
I’ve found that Longhill Camp is a good stop for the first night as it’s almost at Alligator Gorge which gives you most of day two to explore the gorge (there are a couple of good hikes to do there) and time to get to Kingfisher Flat for night two. That leaves a fairly short and relaxing hike back to Mambray Creek trailhead on day three.
If you do camp at Longhill Camp, maybe sleep with your pack in the tent. There are these crazy little critters called Narrow-Nosed Planigales. They’re the size of a mouse but Australia’s smallest carnivore. They’ll chew through your bags to get to your food! I had them crawling all over and inside my pack before I brought it inside with me. Then I had them crawling all over my tent but they didn’t get inside. Creepy critters!
There are so many great hikes to do in Mt Remarkable National Park.
Gotta love Mt Remarkable National Park!
I’ve just mentioned my favourite hikes but there are a lot more to do in Mount Remarkable National Park, so what are you waiting for? Get out there and check them out!
If you want to know what I take on an overnight hike, check out my guide here. Happy hiking!
What’s your favourite place to hike in South Australia?
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