Port Pirie is the big-smoke around these parts, but you don't enter the Southern Ranges proper until Laura (population 660), which emerges from the wheat fields like Superman's Smallville (all civic pride and 1950s prosperity). The long, geranium-adorned main street has a supermarket, chemist, bakery, bank, post office, even a shoe shop! Tiny Stone Hut is 10km north of Laura.

The Flinders' oldest (and most appealing) town is little Melrose, under the considerable shadow of Mt Remarkable. Peterborough (population 1420), 87km inland from Melrose, is a characterful place: a former service town for SA Railways trains, with a time-tunnel main street lined with old shopfronts, rickety verandahs and huge stone pubs. There were 100 steam trains a day running through Peterborough in 1923 – enough steam to change the local climate, making it hotter and more humid than surrounding towns.

Hard-to-pronounce Orroroo (population 610) is 64km east of Melrose – a snoozy country town with an ancient eucalyptus tree that has seen it all before.