By Mark Eggleton
I’m reminded of an old Western film as the sun slowly sets on Rawnsley Bluff. Not only are we looking at a harshly dramatic landscape redolent of Monument Valley in Arizona but we’ve circled our wagons on a hill at Rawnsley Park Station in the Flinders Ranges. Yet the wagons aren’t circled for protection, we’re a collection of photography enthusiasts keen to film the day’s last rays change the colour of the landscape. Every fine evening, the colours red, blue, purple and even a hint of brownish green bounce off the landscape and back into the sky to provide one of the most beautiful natural light shows on the planet.
Julie Smith and her husband Tony have created something very special at Rawnsley Park Station. It has been the family pastoral business for generations but since 1984, the family have also run a tourism enterprise. Moreover, what started out as a relatively spartan collection of accommodation options has morphed into a luxury resort.
The luxurious eco-villas are a true outback sanctuary. Located on a rise just a short drive from the reception building and affording stunning views of the region, the eco-villas are a gorgeous outback base. Large and super comfortably furnished they’re a quiet, cool, contemporary haven away from the desert heat.
Rawnsley Park is still a working sheep station and guests can watch shearers in action when it’s time to get the wool clip in or they can fill their days with guided and self-guided walks as well as 4WD and helicopter tours.
According to Julie Smith, they’ll also notice how the landscape changes.
“At first glance it seems so harsh but then there are pine trees, creeks rimmed by river gums and the colours – always changing colours on the rocks and landscape.”
Inside each villa there’s a fully-provisioned kitchen with Fleurieu milk and yoghurt as well as bread, fresh fruit and muesli for breakfast. There’s even a selection of Nespresso capsules for those keen on a caffeine hit. And while you could choose to bring your own food for dinner there’s no real need. The old woolshed is now a restaurant focussing on local produce and succulent local lamb matched with a solid wine list.
Back in the room and if you feel the need to not sit and watch the stars with a favourite tipple, there is a TV and DVD player with a selection of films available. To be honest, it would be wrong to waste the evening in front of the TV. I sat outside and listened to the night and wished upon every falling star.
Lying back in bed, a retractable blind slides back to reveal the night sky above. It would have to be the most comfortable way to sleep under the stars anywhere – safely ensconced in your outback sanctuary, cocooned in bed and the last memory of the evening being the stars flickering above as your eyelids flicker to close.