A $3m makeover for Wilpena Pound

TRANQUIL: The Ikara Safari Camp at the Wilpena Pound Resort.
TRANQUIL: The Ikara Safari Camp at the Wilpena Pound Resort.

Wilpena Pound, an iconic tourism destination in the Flinders Ranges, will be transformed by a $3 million investment by the state government and Indigenous Business Australia (IBA).

NRMA Parks and Resorts, one of Australia's largest transport and tourism operators, has been appointed as the new manager of the Indigenous-owned Wilpena Pound Resort.

The $3m joint investment by the Marshall Liberal Government and IBA will transform the visitor experience with works to start in the coming months.

The upgrade is part of a $130 million state government investment into park improvements across the state to boost nature-based tourism and improve conservation.

Premier Steven Marshall said the Flinders Rangers offers a "truly unique" visitor experience for tourists across Australia.

"This $3 million joint investment will reposition Wilpena Pound Resort at Ikara Flinders Rangers National Park to a world-leading Indigenous cultural destination, improving the visitor experience, boosting the state economy and creating local jobs," he said.

The Flinders Ranges has been at the forefront of regional tourism, with intrastate visitors to the outback region growing 86 per cent between the 2020 March and June quarters - going from 66,000 overnight stays to 120,000

Environment Minister David Speirs said the appointment of NRMA Parks and Resorts followed an expression of interest process led by Wilpena Pound Resort.

"NRMA is one of Australia's most respected tourism operators and improved infrastructure will further enhance the region as an internationally recognised iconic tourism destination," he said.

"This one-time investment to upgrade critical infrastructure will also create unique experiences that showcase the cultural and natural aspects of the national park and improve infrastructure for overnight and day visitors.

"This region is home to a range of unique world-class experiences including some areas which are currently being considered for World Heritage status.

"This investment in the Flinders Ranges follows other significant projects the Marshall Liberal Government has started in the region including at Mount Remarkable National Park and Nilpena."

NRMA Parks and Resorts Chief Executive Officer Paul Davies said his organisation is proud to have been selected to partner with South Australia's iconic Indigenous-owned Wilpena Pound Resort in the Flinders Ranges and the South Australian Government.

"NRMA Parks and Resorts brings to the partnership its well-known expertise in the successful and sensitive operation of 44 holiday parks and resorts across Australia, with the backing of Australia's largest and most-trusted member organisation, the NRMA," he said.

"We're looking forward to showcasing the amazing Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park to our members and to those travelling to discover Australia's great regional destinations.

"We are excited to support the vision of the Traditional Owners, the Adnyamathanha people, IBA and the South Australian Government for Ikara Wilpena Pound to become the premier Indigenous experience in the country."

Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park is co-managed with the Traditional Owners of the land, the Adnyamathanha people.