Life on the Edge … Carrieton South Australia

Last Updated on May 6, 2021 by Red Nomad OZ

Horseshoe Range from Carrieton South Australia
Horseshoe Range from Carrieton, South Australia

Live on the edge from just ten bucks a night.

That’s all it cost us for a powered site at Carrieton’s Horseshoe View Caravan Park with the Stay-2-nights-Get-2-nights-FREE deal.

Horseshoe View Caravan Park Campsite, Carrieton South Australia
Horseshoe View Caravan Park Campsite

While the special deal isn’t available now, the real cost is still a small price to pay for a chance to explore Carrieton South Australia. It’s perched on the edge of the vast expanse of the Minburra Plain stretching east with virtually nothing civilised to stop it until it hits the Barrier highway en route to Broken Hill.

Although that doesn’t really count as civilisation either!

Staying in Carrieton

Three hours north of Adelaide on the alternative route to the Flinders Ranges, Carrieton is a TOP Aussie town. It’s also a hidden jewel in South Australia’s mid-north which is often ignored in favour of the big ticket items further north.

But bypass Carrieton and you’ll miss some of the most intriguing and delightful Outback scenery in South Australia!

It’s no hardship to stay for 4 nights and get the full benefit of the Horseshoe View’s special deal. The superbly set up AND quiet little caravan park has everything.  It’s off the main road in the old school grounds purchased by the community when the school was closed a few years ago.

Anglican Church, Carrieton South Australia
Anglican Church, Carrieton, South Australia

Not a camper? You’ll LOVE how the locals have converted the old school buildings into cottage and bunkhouse style accommodation.

Carrieton History

The locals are used to living on the edge. Yanyarrie Whim is on the outskirts of town.  It’s all that remains of the watering point on the 1800s North/South Stock Route and mining trail responsible for putting Carrieton on the map.

Carrieton Rodeo and Campdraft Posters
Carrieton Rodeo and Campdraft Posters

Partly responsible for keeping Carrieton ON the map these days are the annual December night Rodeo.  This event is one of the largest in South Australia.  There’s also the April/May Campdraft and Gymkhana.

The district’s low and inconsistent rainfall drove many from the land leaving only a legacy of stone ruins behind.  It’s on the wrong side of the Goyder Line, surveyed in 1865 to determine the boundary of viable cropping land.

Johnburgh Ruin, via Carrieton
Johnburgh Ruin, via Carrieton

Later, the Prince Alfred mine closed in 1907, the railway in 1981, followed more recently by the school.  Carrieton faced an uncertain future.

Now taking responsibility for keeping it on the map is a determined and forward-looking progress association.  They are refusing to let the town die.

Community owned and run, the caravan park is just one innovation to keep the town afloat. The excellent and well stocked general store – also a community initiative – means visitors can stay in town to purchase fuel or food.

But the REAL reason to base yourself on the edge in Carrieton is to explore this amazing and intriguing region of South Australia.  Many Aussies haven’t even heard of it, let alone seen it!  A selection of sightseeing options will make up several day trips.  Especially if you don’t forget to factor in some time to relax in the beautifully kept school grounds, and chat to the friendly locals.

So here’s one version of how to spend 4 days on the edge in Carrieton South Australia:

Day 1: Eat and Explore

Drive 44 km north to the Cradock Hotel for lunch. Sightings of the ghost of former publican ‘Lawrence’ aren’t guaranteed, but you WILL get a great meal served up with country hospitality!

Catholic Church, Carrieton South Australia
Catholic Church, Carrieton

When you return, explore Carrieton’s attractions like Yanyarrie Whim (see below) and the excellent 12 metre Mosaic Mural depicting the town’s history on the Public Toilets. YES, the Loo AND the mural are IN MY BOOK!

Ask for directions to the creek behind the caravan park and walk up the creek bed where massive river Redgums and high RED cliffs tower above you.

Sunset at the Creek bed, Carrieton South Australia
Sunset at Carrieton Creek bed, South Australia

Then set up a date with the sunset over the Horseshoe Range …

Day 2: Ruins and Redgums

Oladdie Road, via Carrieton South Australia
Oladdie Road, via Carrieton, South Australia

Take a picnic lunch and drive 20 km east on the Oladdie road to Johnburgh.  The superb mountain scenery includes farmland, many ruins and unusual rock formations.

After looking around almost-ghost-town Johnburgh, take the Belton turnoff and follow the marvellous Bendleby Ranges to the Weira Creek crossing.

River Redgum Random, Weira Creek via Carrieton South Australia
River Redgum Random, Weira Creek via Carrieton

The massive River Redgums are locally known as ‘widowmakers’ because a branch big enough to crush a house (or a person) can fall without warning …

After lunch, return to Carrieton via the Belton road – and watch for the clouds of pink dust billowing behind you on this oddly coloured road surface.

Bendleby Ranges from the Belton Road, via Carrieton South Australia
Rhapsody in Pink: Bendleby Ranges from the Belton Road, via Carrieton, South Australia

Oh! And the scenery’s not bad either …

Day 3: Lookouts and Landscapes

Magnetic Hill Sign, via Orroroo, South Australia
Magnetic Hill Sign, via Orroroo, South Australia

Drive 35 km south to Orroroo then further south via Pekina (check out the Pub and Coffee shop!); to Magnetic Hill, an intriguing natural phenomenon.

Return via Black Rock and take a detour to the Black Rock Lookout for superb views across the valley to the Pekina Range.  Take a walk through Black Rock Conservation Park to see what the countryside looked like before being cleared for grazing and cropping.

In Orroroo, the Tank Hill Lookout has superb views to the north and a superb cafe in the main street. Then check out South Australia’s largest River Redgum, the old Railway Bridge and the historic buildings in town.

Black Rock Magic, South Australia's Mid North
Black Rock Magic, South Australia’s Mid North

On the way back to Carrieton, stop at Walloway, site of a nasty train crash in the early 1900s.  A little further north, take a look at the Eurelia railway siding for a sample of the area’s history.

For a total heritage experience, take a detour and return via the historic town of Hammond.

Day 4: Ranges and Rocks

Take another picnic lunch and drive 28 km west through the superb countryside of the rocky Horseshoe Range towards Moockra Tower. When the road gives out, hike to the Tower for splendid views over the Range and Willochra Plain to the west.

Ranges from Belton Road, Carrieton South Australia
Ranges behind Carrieton from Belton Road, South Australia

Back in Carrieton, after testing out the golf course circumnavigating the town, make another date with that sunset …

Old seeder at Yanyarrie Whim, Carrieton South Australia
Old seeder at Yanyarrie Whim, Carrieton, SA

And thank me – along with the locals!! – for introducing you to this little-known wonderland. It won’t take much to make Carrieton part of your South Australian Flinders Ranges, Mid-North or Outback experience.

Although my stay in Carrieton South Australia undoubtedly assisted the local community in a small way, it didn’t take long to realise the locals were doing ME a favour by making it easy for me to stay and enjoy life on the edge!

Sunset Carrieton South Australia
Carrieton Sunset

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  1. @Jai Baidell – It’s heartbreaking to read/hear about how difficult life was for some of the pioneers in these parts. It’s beautiful country – but it can be deadly too!
    @Joan Thompson – Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!! Do they still have the ‘Stay 2 nights, get 2 nights free’ deal at the caravan park??

  2. Lovely photos, many of my ancestors went broke trying to farm beyond Goyders Line, I’m not exactly sure where their farms were, but they were hard working folk, that’s for sure.

  3. @FruitCake – I didn’t know I could move so fast … apart from snake spotting, it’s probably the only time EVER my legs have been a blur!
    @Jill – You’ll find it just south of the Flinders Ranges. I hope you like it as much as I did if you visit – the back roads are so often the best!
    @Iris – All will be revealed in a future blog post! Stay tuned!!
    @Gawain – You’re one up on us with the Prince Alfred mine … but did you get to Eurelia??!! Maybe we can meet up in Carrieton to go to the rodeo one day … but I’ll settle for another look at the area during wildflower season!! That pink road keeps calling my name …
    @Mary – Hahaha, I do keep forgetting that the specific Aussie meaning of ‘Outback’ might not make sense to everyone else!!! Combining an al fresco lunch with bakery food is the best kind of paradisical picnic!!!
    @Glen – Haha, funny you should ask. I’m most ALWAYS home if you count our home/beach shack/camper trailer combo as a micronation!!!!

  4. @Rose – Never say never, girlfriend!!! What’s to stop you?? I hope I keep you drooling until you give in & take a trip somewhere!!!
    @Sallie – Hahaha! I’m actually tempted to go back & stay in the school room … but maybe I’ll save it for my 2nd childhood!!
    @Fun60 – It’s easier to find places like this when you’ve got time to look. We rarely book ahead so we can stay the extra time if we find a good spot – or move on real quick if it’s a dud!
    @FigMince – Hahaha, of COURSE we did!! Stay tuned!! LOVE your name – ironically, I was given a bag of figs by the Caravan Park hosts! Weird, huh!!
    @LONDONLULU – What I say has been ignored by the best in the business, so of course it’s no problem … some of my best descriptions are in the pix!
    @Go Camping – Well … not having kids helps! Also a healthy sense of curiosity – and MAPS! Wouldn’t have even known about Black Rock Lookout if we hadn’t seen it on the map & wondered what it was like!!

  5. @Andrew – Of COURSE I tried it!! Stay tuned …
    @eileeninmd – I’ve yet to experience the rodeo – it’s midsummer downunder when it’s on!!! But one day …
    @River – Like us, you’ve probably been through it en route to the Flinders Ranges, or further north. When we found it had a caravan park, we thought we’d check it out!! SO worth it!!
    @Arija – Fewer places more thoroughly is our preference!! That way we discover all the hidden secrets!! What a bummer about the Orroroo bakery – although Maggie’s Rendezvous café is a reasonable substitute!! But just wait until you see what FAAAABULOUS baked stuff I found further north!!!
    @Saucy Kod – Ooops! Forgot to caption the machinery! Will fix!! I’m amazed about some of the similarities between the OZ outback & PEI – weird, given their geographical differences!! Thanx for dropping by – it’s always a pleasure!!
    @Indrani – Thank you!! I’m starting to look for different ways to ‘see’ a place, so I’m glad you liked my photographic experiement!
    @Manzanita – Hahaha, you’ve got to be kidding!!! The population swells considerably & it’s standing room only in all the accommodation!! But … it’s still a good deal the rest of the time!

  6. Pay 2 stay 2 works nicely for me. I prefer a picnic lunch to any other kind.

    Whenever I see Outback I think of the man discussing his trip(quite a few years ago) & the young waitress who said: I love that steakhouse! ~Mary

  7. thanks Red for introducing me to Carrieton. No never heard of it – but we are heading to South Oz later this year, so I will be putting it on our list of places to visit. Gorgeous views and pics, and always a wonderful read.

  8. You’re absolutely right about Carrieton and district Red. I used to board up at Cradock when driving a school bus to the Hawker Area School and got to Carrieton very well. Indeed, I was confirmed in the Anglican Church there in 1970 as an adult.
    Pekina singer/songwriter, John O’Dea, has a brilliant song about the Carrieton Rodeo and it’s a real toe-tapper.
    I remember the train still using the line between Quorn and Peterborough via Carrieton, Hammond and Bruce.
    Back in 1970 I was taken to see the old Prince Alfred Mine in operation as it was reworked at the height of the Poseidon Mining Boom; I believe it’s now inaccessible but I would love to be able to revisit it sometime soon.
    Thanks for reviving memories of a wonderful, yet overlooked part of South Australia; it really is a treasure out there, including the Bendleby Ranges.
    I know where I’m going in my vintage caravan during my annual leave in June!
    PS: Magnetic Hill really is simply amazing; we took the boys there many years ago and could not believe what seemed to be happening! Go there. Go to Orroroo as well as that’s a town that has made huge efforts to become visitor-attractive and worth a visit.

  9. You continue to amaze me on how much we miss on our travels. When we head by Carrieton in the next month, I am going to make everyone pay a whole lot more attention to their surrounds thanks to you (and might have to make a special trip to Black Rock ‘cos it looks amazing).

  10. Red, nice of you to stand under that widowmaker to get such a great shot and share it with everyone.

  11. You always take us on quite a journey. It amazes me how come you find these places. Love the colours of the sky and the land especially that pink hue.

  12. Great travelogue. Of course if we were ever so lucky to be there, we’d stay in that lovely caravan park, but it is neat to think how they turned the old school into a cottage/bunk place. Good for them. Lots of history and beautiful scenery.

  13. G’day Red, I don’t suppose I’ll ever hit the road again now, but boy! did this post get me road-hungry. What a place! What a find! -drool-

  14. Pay two night and stay free 2 nights is a deal in any country. I wonder if they offer that during Rodeo time too?

  15. I love the red road at Anglican Church – reminds me of Prince Edward Island. The colour from the ground to the sky at Black Rock Magic is uplifting to the soul – the old piece of ?farm machinery by the road very interesting and of course I love the sunset with the pinkish red clouds in the sky and the silhouette of the lone tree. All beautiful Red. Loved it.

  16. I certainly need no introduction to this corner of our state. I love the mid-north and have adored the little church at Craddock for more than 40 years. Orrorroo had a fabulous gourmet pie bakery . We always take the ‘alternate route’ north. Not too keen on the tourist run. I know the embellishment on the Carrieton toilets but have never had the necessity to stay there, must remedy that. Is the old harmonica playing publican still resident at the Hammond pub?
    Last time I was there, there were only eight people in residence.
    I like the way you do a place thoroughly.

  17. Carrieton….it sounds so familiar, as if I’ve been there, but there’s nothing familiar in any of your photos.
    There’s so much open space!

  18. Thanks for the nice tour of Carrieton! Sounds like a deal on the campsite! The rodeo sounds like a fun time! Pretty views and love the landscapes. Wonderful post, thanks for sharing!

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