The University of Newcastle, Australia

Trekker information

Here you’ll find all the latest updates on the Ikara-Flinders Ranges Challenge, fundraising tips, fitness guides, the latest news and more!

If you have a question that’s not answered by our FAQs below, get in touch by emailing

Frequently Asked Questions

The Ikara-Flinders Ranges are located in the arid heart of the Australian Outback. This park is renowned for its Aboriginal rock art sites, geological history, impressive fossils and well-preserved cultural heritage. The extraordinary landscape is more than 800 million years old and has been home to the Adnyamathanha people for tens of thousands of years. It is an unforgettable rust coloured landscape and it holds many hidden secrets which can only be discovered on foot. It provides unforgettable walking that will take your breath away.

The Heysen Trail traverses one of the oldest geological landscapes in the world, and is rated as one of the world’s premier long distance trails. The trail begins in the stunning Flinders Ranges, the Heysen’s spiritual birthplace. Our trek starts at the Northern Trail head and walks south, taking in many of the Flinders Ranges highlights including Wilepena Pound.

Each day will be tough – you’ll be challenging yourself and working together in a supportive team with your fellow trekkers. However, you’ll be able to focus on the trek with all food and accommodation organised for you. You’ll only carry your daypack with water each day.

Have the traditional custodians of the land approved our visit?

The University of Newcastle Ikara-Flinders Ranges project team has sought advice and approval from Indigenous leaders and representative groups to ensure that we are welcome to visit the land and are giving due respect to the traditional custodians of the country.

The Adnyamathanha people are the traditional owners of Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park. They have co-managed the park with the South Australian Government since 2011. We will be advised by The Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park Management Plan 2017, led by the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park Co-management Board. It aims to honour the old ways, respect the aspirations of all South Australians and give voice to the Adnyamathanha people.

The park was renamed ‘Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park’ in 2015. The new name seeks to recognise that Ikara (the meeting place) has, and always will be, a place where people meet.

Auswalks have been operating for nearly 30 years, and have been visiting the Flinders Ranges for 27 years. They have built a great relationship with the local people and establishments as well as the Park Ranger.

Highly-respected Indigenous leaders from the University’s Wollotuka Institute, are also advising and taking part in the challenge.

Cultural Perspectives

The Flinders Ranges has a rich Aboriginal heritage. The first humans to inhabit the Flinders Ranges were the Adnyamathanha people (meaning "hill people" or "rock people") whose descendants still reside in the area.

Wilepena Pound - Mr Anderson, Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association chairman describes Wilepena Pound, "The Pound initially was a meeting place for ceremony, not just for our own groups but [for] other neighbours to come and hold ceremonies to discuss rules for life," …"It has always been a significant part of our culture; we maintain Dreamtime stories about the Pound and how it was formed.” (ABC article, Flinders Ranges renamed in recognition of the traditional Aboriginal owners, 1 March 2016)

What will my impact be?

After discussions with Indigenous elders on funding strategies and areas of need, funds raised through the Ikara-Flinders Ranges Challenge will support the University’s Indigenous students (undergraduate and post-graduate) and University research into Indigenous community health issues. Our 2017 Larapinta Trail challenge outcomes are an excellent example of the lasting impacts that this challenge will have.

Any fundraising tips?

Yes, we have prepared suggestions to support trekkers to raise funds for the cause.

How fit do I need to be to take part?

Being well prepared will help you fully enjoy the experience. You need a good level of fitness to complete the Challenge.

Will the University of Newcastle provide any gear?

The Ikara-Flinders Ranges project team will provide each participant with a trek pack containing:

  • Two drink bottles (approx 1.5L total)
  • A mug (for morning and afternoon tea breaks)
  • A breathable, UPF-rated 50+ bucket hat
  • Two breathable, UPF-rated 50+ polo shirts
  • A chill cooling towel in pouch

Auswalks also recommends a list of items on their website.

The temperature in September is still very comfortable to walk in, but warm clothes are necessary as the temperature drops at night. Average daily temperatures for September are 19.4° (average max) to 5.4° (average min). Visit the weatherzone website for more information.

According to National Parks South Australia there is a plethora of fauna and flora in the area, including many rare species like the yellow-footed rock-wallaby.

View the itinerary page for details of where you will be walking and staying on the challenge.

Special dietary requirements

If you haven’t already done so, please advise Auswalk and the Ikara-Flinders Ranges project team (Connor Brown or Rebecca Stone) if you have special dietary requirements or allergic reactions to food.

Can you help with my travel needs?

Yes. We have engaged travel consultant Kylie Amos, iTravel The Junction who is able to assist our volunteer trekkers with flights, transfers and additional accommodation needs. Please speak with us or contact Kylie via email, or on +61 (0)448 386 875

When is payment due?

All fees for trek participants in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges Challenge are to be paid directly to the tour company Auswalk (includes the tour, food and accommodation while on the trek). The deposit is to be paid upon registration, with full payment due by 9 July 2019.

What is the cancelation policy?

Cancellation fees are based on the cancelation policy of Auswalk.

If you wish to cancel your trip Auswalk will charge the following amounts per person for estimated losses from the date they receive your written cancellation:

  1. More than 60 days before departure, $400 per person
  2. Between 59-14 days before departure, 50% of trip price
  3. Between 13-8 days before departure, 80% of trip price
  4. 7 days or less before departure, 100% of trip price

No refunds will be given for unused services after the trip starts. If payments are not received by the due dates Auswalks reserves the right to cancel your booking.

Cancellations from the Ikara-Flinders Ranges Challenge must be made via email to either Connor Brown or Rebecca Stone at the University of Newcastle. Notice of cancellation is not effective until received by the University of Newcastle and must be made during office hours (i.e. if cancellation is emailed over a weekend, it will become effective on Monday morning).

It is the responsibility of the participant to provide written cancellation to all third party providers including Auswalk and iTravel.

Cancellation by the trek operator or the University

Tour company Auswalk or the University of Newcastle may cancel the trip at any time prior to departure if, due to terrorism, natural disasters, political instability or other external events it is not viable for the trek operator to deliver the planned itinerary. In circumstances where the cancellation is due to external events outside our reasonable control refunds will be less any unrecoverable costs. The University of Newcastle is not responsible for any incidental expenses that you may have incurred as a result of your booking including, but not limited to visas, vaccinations, travel insurance excess or non-refundable flights.

Funds raised from supporters

All money received from supporters as part of fundraising for the Ikara-Flinders Ranges Challenge is non-refundable, except under extreme circumstances. If the trek were to be cancelled by the tour company Auswalk and could not be moved to another date, the University would attempt to hold a similar event for participants to trek, in keeping with the spirit of the event.

What happens if there’s an accident during the trek? Will there be first aid officers?

In addition to the four guides from the tour company Auswalk, Ikara-Flinders Ranges Challenge Team Coordinator Connor Brown is a trained first aid officer. If you are a qualified medical doctor and/or have had first aid training please let us know.

The Ikara-Flinders Ranges Challenge project team will seek emergency contact names and numbers from trek participants, which will be:

  • Provided to Auswalk
  • Held securely by University staff member and trek participant Connor Brown during the trek, and
  • Held securely by Brad Holmes, Head of Philanthropic Programs at the University of Newcastle.

In case of an emergency during the Challenge, concerned parties may contact Brad Holmes via email, or on 0419 435 228, office 02 4921 5309.

What is my acceptance of risk?

You acknowledge that the nature of the trip is adventurous and participation involves a degree of personal risk. You will be visiting places where the political, cultural and geographical attributes present dangers and physical challenges greater than those present in our daily lives. It is your own responsibility to acquaint yourself with all relevant travel information and the nature of your itinerary. You acknowledge that your decision to travel is made in light of consideration of this information and you accept that you are aware of the personal risks attendant upon such travel. Any vaccinations are the responsibility of the participant.

What is the limitation of liability?

The University of Newcastle will be using third party suppliers to provide the trek, accommodation, food and transport. The University of Newcastle is not responsible for the acts and omissions of these third parties.

To the fullest extent permitted by law:

  • Any liability for any loss, death, injury or damage which you may suffer (directly or indirectly) in connection with or arising out of your participation in a trip, is excluded;
  • You release us and our officers, employees, agents and representatives from any liability and expressly waive any claims you may have against us arising out of or in connection with your participation in a trip; and
  • Any condition or warranty which would otherwise be implied by law into these Booking Conditions (Implied Warranty), is excluded.
  • Any claim by you is excluded to the extent that it is for indirect or consequential loss, loss of profits or economic loss, however it arises, or for indirect, special, punitive or exemplary damages.
  • If a participant misses a transfer or flight before the trek begins, it will be the participant’s responsibility and expense to arrange to join the main group of trekkers in order to participate in the trek.

Is there insurance coverage?

All participants in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges Challenge will be covered under the University’s Personal Accident Insurance (subject to policy terms and exclusions) from the start of their participation in the Challenge, namely: from time of the transfer departure from Newcastle on Monday 9 September, or from the time of arrival at Sydney or Adelaide airport on Monday 9 September if participants are not availing themselves of the bus transfer from Newcastle to Sydney or the flight from Sydney to Adelaide. The cover will be in place until the arrival of the returning transfer to Newcastle on Sunday 15 September, or from the time of return arrival at Sydney airport if participants are not availing themselves of the bus transfer from Sydney to Newcastle.