The traditional name for St Mary Peak (1171m), in Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, approximates “trying to find your mind” and Adnyamathanha Aboriginal people believe walkers sometimes become lost in Wilpena Pound because the mountain disorientates them. The walk to the highest point in the pound – and Flinders Ranges – is well signed so you shouldn’t lose your way but it’s a tough hike and not for everyone.
Both options, a 14km return hike up and down the pound’s external wall and a 21.5km loop returning via the pound floor, demand rock-wallaby sure-footedness and a head for heights. Take plenty of water and start very early in warm weather.
The return walk (allow 6-8 hours) hugs the base of the pound wall for several kilometres before clambering steeply up building-block rocks to Tanderra Saddle. An easier final ascent, through grevilleas, bush peas, callistemon and wattles, puts you up top. For cultural reasons the Adnyamathanha prefer that walkers don’t proceed beyond the saddle.
Views of patchwork pound floor, spine-like neighbouring ridges and the valleys separating them greet you on reaching both the saddle and the summit.