Nilpena - A Pinch of Salt

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesParachilna Siding
FinishLake Torrens Lookout
DifficultyDifficulty 1/5
Suitable ForAWD Motorbike 
Distance61.78 km
Minimum Days1
Average Speed54.91 km/hr
Travel Time1 hr 7 mins
Page Updated: 21 Oct 2021


Nilpena Station is one of the few stations that allow access to Lake Torrens, there are no public access routes to the Lake. This trek starts from the Prairie Hotel at Parachilna and goes to Nilpena Station and then to Lake Torrens. It takes about three hours and costs $30.00 a vehicle. Bookings can be made at the Prairie Hotel on (08) 8648 4844.

The graded station track meanders along the gibber and sandy plains. There are a couple of low sand hills to cross over to bring the traveller in to the dune corridor which eventually peters out as the shore of the lake is approached. In the distance to the east the Flinders Ranges provide a back drop to this trek which is best viewed on the return trip. Lake Torrens lies 8 metres above sea level and is 205km in length and 40km wide. It is usually a dry salt lake but the surface is powdery and when damp can become a quagmire. Visitors are requested not to attempt to drive on the lake as bogging is inevitable, recovery difficult and will leave unsightly scars on the lake.

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Sandy loam soils interspersed with gibber stones cover the plains to the east of Lake Torrens. The flora comprises salt bush, blue bush, samphires and other fleshy leaved plants which can stand being inundated with water. There is no growth on the surface of the lake other than salt crystals. It is rare to see water entering this flat salt encrusted basin. Visitors are requested not to attempt to drive on the lake as bogging is inevitable, recovery difficult and will leave unsightly scars on the lake. Nilpena Station runs cattle on some very sparsely vegetated country.


Lake Torrens became part of the speculation and myth amongst early European explorers of the presence of an Inland Sea. In 1831 after Charles Sturt had rowed down the Murray River, he confirmed that the river did not flow in to the inland sea.

Edward John Eyre explored the western side of the Flinders Ranges in 1841 and he 'discovered' Lake Torrens and named it after Colonel Robert Torrens who was one of the founders of South Australia. Eyre was also under the impression that it was part of the great inland sea. Further explorations by Babbage and Warburton in the late 1850's skirted around the western side of the lake.

In the 1883 a scheme was mooted to permanently flood Lake Eyre via a canal connecting Spencer Gulf to Lake Torrens and on to Lake Eyre. This scheme was howled down with derision and shelved.

TrekID: 104


MUST READ: You are strongly encouraged to read the following articles prepared by the knowledge experts at ExplorOz for your safety and preparation before undertaking any published ExplorOz Trek - Outback Safety, Outback Driving Tips, Outback Communications, and Vehicle Setup for the Outback.


Please refer to Road Reports published by the local shire and/or main roads for the area you intend to visit. Road/Track conditions can change significantly after weather events. Travellers must be responsible for their own research on current conditions and track suitability.
Adequate supplies of water and fuel should be taken as well as a minimum of a UHF Radio for Communications.


Key required for access. A $30 fee applies as well as a refundable key deposit of $20. Contact the Prairie Hotel (08) 8648 4844.

Fuel Usage

There is fuel available at Hawker (83km) and Leigh Creek (66km). These towns are not featured in this trek note.
4cyl 5 litres *4cyl 10 litres4cyl 12 litres
6cyl 9 litres6cyl 11 litres6cyl 11 litres
8cyl 9 litres8cyl 10 litres
Usage is averaged from recorded data (* specific to this trek) and calculated based on trek distance.

Best Time To Visit

Closest Climatic Station

Leigh Creek Airport
Distance from Trek Mid Point 61.65km N
Mean Max. °C35.534.531.126.220.917.016.619.123.226.730.533.0
Mean Min. °C20.720.417.312.
Mean Rain mm20.228.720.313.
    Best time to travel      Ok time to travel      Travel NOT recommended


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Parachilna Siding to Blackfellow Creek & Route B83
Driving: 14.13 km
Heading: 356°
Avg Speed: 62.91 km/hr
EST Time: 13:28
Blackfellow Creek & Route B83 to Route B83 & Nilpena Station Access
Driving: 10.47 km
Heading: 331°
Avg Speed: 67.89 km/hr
EST Time: 09:15
Route B83 & Nilpena Station Access to Lake Torrens Track
Driving: 13.06 km
Heading: 228°
Avg Speed: 59.22 km/hr
EST Time: 13:13
Lake Torrens Track to Lake Torrens Track & 6 Mile Well Access
Driving: 4.26 km
Heading: 226°
Avg Speed: 36.46 km/hr
EST Time: 07:00
Lake Torrens Track & 6 Mile Well Access to Unknown on Nilpena Station
Driving: 3.41 km
Heading: 228°
Avg Speed: 51.36 km/hr
EST Time: 03:59
Unknown on Nilpena Station to Lake Torrens Lookout
Driving: 16.45 km
Heading: 222°
Avg Speed: 51.59 km/hr
EST Time: 19:07
Distance is based on the travel mode shown (Driving, Straight, Cycling, Walking etc), Direction is straight line from start to end, Avg Speed & EST Time is calculated from GPS data.

What to See

A pleasant drive over plains and dune corridors to a lookout over Lake Torrens


Where to Stay

No Places To Stay available for this trek

Services & Supplies

No Services & Supplies available for this trek


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