Arkaroola 4WD Loop

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesArkaroola Village
FinishArkaroola Village
DifficultyDifficulty 3/5
Suitable for4WD 
Distance43.71 km
Minimum Days1
Average Speed18.7 km/hr
Driving Time2 hrs 20 mins
Article By: ExplorOz Team
Page Updated: 18 Mar 2015


Arkaroola - Mount Painter Wildlife Sanctuary hosts many self drive tracks for 4WDs ranging from beginner to advanced in difficulty. The Echo Camp Waterhole track and the Echo Camp Backtrack are two tracks that are both popular and challenging. Beginning at the little township of Arkaroola in the Gammon Ranges area of South Australia, these tracks provide some exciting 4WDriving through spectacular scenery. Visitors coming from the Strzelecki track will be wide eyed at the steep terrain which is an amazing contrast to the wide open spaces of the Strzelecki track. The steep terrain in the area means that many of the tracks follow creek beds in steep gorges, and many of these will be impassable in wet weather.

The Echo camp track follows a creek bed for much of the way, before turning up a steep grade to a ridge offering spectacular views of the country to the north. Winding its way down a spectacularly steep descent it joins the gravel road from Arkaroola to Paralana Springs. The springs are an interesting distraction, being radioactive; they are not suitable for swimming in. Echo Camp Backtrack is very steep, rough and quite loose in places, and should only be undertaken with a high clearance four-wheel drive with low-range capability. Trailers should not be towed on this track, as most sections of it are one-way and very steep in places.

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The Arkaroola - Mount Painter Wildlife Sanctuary is abound with wildlife from wedge-tailed eagles and emus to colourful parrots, which are all indigenous to this area. In fact, the region is home to over 160 species of birds, the rare yellow-footed Rock Wallaby, the Red Kangaroo and the Western Grey Kangaroo, all of which are not so commonly found elsewhere in Australia.

The region is defined by towering granite peaks, mysterious waterholes, razor back ridges populated by rock wallabies, and deep sinuous gorges lined with ancient river red gums. The rocky terrain is very hard on 4WD tyres and it is highly recommended to carry two spare tyres (or one spare and a tyre repair kit). Tyre inflation should be at the lower end of the safe range (depending on load) to allow tyres to flex over the many sharp rocks.

The topography of the region is simply stunning with ancient sea beds holding fossils that are millions of years old. Both sunrises and sunsets are unforgettably spectacular in these mountains, with Arkaroola Village providing a theatre like setting to the backdrop of the rugged and spectacular northern Flinders Ranges.



The area around Arkaroola is the land of the Andjnamutana people, whose dreaming tells the story of Arkaroo the legendary serpent whose thirst was so great, that he drained Lake Frome in one great gulp. His belly full, he retreated to the Gammon Ranges where winding his way through the hills, he gouged out the sinuous Arkaroola Gorge. The story tells how he lives now in Mainwater pound, where his restless turning causes the many earthquakes in the region to this day.


John Eyre was the first European to visit the area when he passed west of Mt Hopeless in 1840. He was soon followed by pastoralists and prospectors and so began Arkaroola’s amazing chequered history.

The area is rich in minerals. The first were discovered in 1856 by B.H. Babbage who discovered copper. The Yudnamutana copper fields were discovered in 1860 but copper mining and smelting had a difficult start in the region. The Yudnamutana smelters were completed in 1860 but were never fired. In 1903 rubies and sapphires were discovered by, W.B. Greenwood. The mineral riches of Arkaroola seemed endless. Radium and uranium were discovered in 1910.

Thirteen years later in 1923 radium prices reached the staggering price of one million pounds sterling per ounce. Perversely, just as a major uranium/radium field was discovered by Greenwood, the price tumbled.

Hydro electricity using hot springs heated by radioactive decay was another venture that began in 1923 and failed within a year.

The Wilderness sanctuary that exists today had as difficult a beginning as every other venture in the area. The area was first fenced off in 1935 in an effort to control vermin, and all were eradicated by 1945. Reg Sprigg purchased the property in 1968 and in 1969 requested it be gazetted as wildlife sanctuary. And in 1970 a further request was made, that the property be designated an historical reserve under the Aboriginal and Historical relics Preservation Act.

In 1972, without explanation, the South Australia Government withdrew the official sanctuary and reserve status. By 1980 the area was once again reserved for wildlife under the Australian Heritage Act.


The many tracks in the Arkaroola - Mount Painter Wildlife Sanctuary are travelled by 4WDrivers everyday, so this is not a truly remote track, even though it is in a remote part of South Australia. This loop track is just over 43kms, so does not involve a lot of planning. That said however, one should still carry sufficient water for a day’s travel and sufficient fuel to complete the trip. Arkaroola Village is a small tourism hamlet, which provides food and water supplies as well as fuel, gas, tyre and mechanical repairs. Camping, cabins and motel rooms are also available at Arkaroola Village.

The tracks, particularly the Echo Camp Backtrack are quite rough and very steep, and should only be attempted in high clearance 4WDs with low range fitted. Trailers should not be towed on this track. Much of the track is one way. Contact the resort at Arkaroola Village for track advice prior to travel.

UHF radio with a repeater function will offer some degree of comfort to travellers, as there are numerous repeaters in the area that will allow contact with the outside world in the event of an emergency where reception is available. If your vehicle breaks down or you have some other trouble, stay with your vehicle, as many vehicles travel these tracks daily. The minimum requirements would be to carry good communications and navigation equipment (along with being proficient with its usage).


Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary provides a self-drive four hour 4WD tour along Arkaroola’s Echo Camp Backtrack. As of writing (June 09), it costs $40 per vehicle (plus a refundable $50 deposit) and includes a small information handbook that can be used to identify the various geographical and geological features along the way. A 'search-and-rescue-watch' is maintained on all vehicles - adding to the safety element. Good ground clearance 4WD vehicles with dedicated low range gearboxes are required.


Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary has over 200 sites scattered along Wywhyanna Creek, occupying an area of some 300 hectares. All camping sites cost $15.00 per night.

Fuel Supplies & Usage

Fuel SymbolArkaroola Village.
4cyl 6 litres4cyl 7 litres4cyl 9 litres
6cyl 7 litres6cyl 8 litres6cyl 8 litres
8cyl 7 litres8cyl 7 litres
Usage is averaged from recorded data (* specific to this trek) and calculated based on trek distance.

Best Time To Visit

May to September is the best time to travel. Ii can get rather hot in summer and quite cold in winter.

Closest Climatic Station

Distance from Trek Mid Point 0.1km NW
Mean Max. °C34.333.229.825.220.216.816.519.023.326.530.032.6
Mean Min. °C20.119.315.811.
Mean Rain mm33.339.131.114.317.
    Best time to travel      Ok time to travel      Travel NOT recommended

Services & Supplies

The following locations have various services And supplies:Arkaroola Village
Food, fuel, gas available at Arkaroola


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What to See

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This list may not be complete for the entire region. Places listed here are directly located along the plot file associated with this Trek Note. You can locate other nearby Places by browsing the map or searching Places.
Arkaroola Township and Observatory; Arkaroola Waterhole; Echo Camp Waterhole; Paralana Springs; The Jasper Twins; Gold Mine Ruins

Showing 11 Places

Where to Stay

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This list may not be complete for the entire region. Places listed here are directly located along the plot file associated with this Trek Note. You can locate other nearby Places by browsing the map or searching Places.

Showing 1 Places


LocationsDistanceDirection Time
Arkaroola Village to Main Loop Tk & Arkaroola Waterhole Access4.19 kmN16° 10 min
Main Loop Tk & Arkaroola Waterhole Access to Arkaroola Waterhole1.7 kmNW303° 7 min
Arkaroola Waterhole to Main Loop Tk & Arkaroola Waterhole Access1.7 kmSE123° 7 min
Main Loop Tk & Arkaroola Waterhole Access to Arkaroola Bore1.29 kmE93° 4 min
Arkaroola Bore to Main Loop Tk Turnoff & Echo Camp Waterhole1.39 kmN22° 6 min
Main Loop Tk Turnoff & Echo Camp Waterhole to Echo Camp0.12 kmNE50° 1 min
Echo Camp to Echo Camp Waterhole1.31 kmNE54° 11 min
Echo Camp Waterhole to Waterhole2.3 kmSE146° 15 min
Waterhole to Main Loop Tk & Bararranna Gorge Access2.33 kmE72° 17 min
Main Loop Tk & Bararranna Gorge Access to Waterhole0.47 kmS173° 4 min
Waterhole to Bararranna Waterhole0.56 kmS176° 5 min
Bararranna Waterhole to Waterhole0.56 kmN356° 5 min
Waterhole to Main Loop Tk & Bararranna Gorge Access0.47 kmN353° 4 min
Main Loop Tk & Bararranna Gorge Access to Main Loop Tk & East Painter Gorge Access4.11 kmNE63° 24 min
Main Loop Tk & East Painter Gorge Access to Claude Pass6.33 kmS194° 14 min
Claude Pass to Stubbs Waterhole2.51 kmSW228° 5 min
Stubbs Waterhole to Jasper Twins3.53 kmSW228° 10 min
Jasper Twins to Kingsmill Ck, Main Loop Tk1.26 kmS187° 2 min
Kingsmill Ck, Main Loop Tk to Ochre Wall0.95 kmS162° 3 min
Ochre Wall to Arkaroola Road & Main Loop Tk1.16 kmSW235° 2 min
Arkaroola Road & Main Loop Tk to Arkaroola0.93 kmNW329° 1 min
Arkaroola to Devils Slide2.44 kmNW334° 2 min
Devils Slide to Arkaroola Village2.12 kmW283° 2 min
Arkaroola Village to Arkaroola Village43.71 km  2 hr 20 min
Distance is GPS recorded driving distance (not straight line), Direction is straight line from start to end, Time is calculated from actual GPS driving data.


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