The Prairie Hotel
High Street & West Terrace, Parachilna SA
08 8648 4895
Straddling the border where the Flinders Ranges meets the desert, the small town of Parachilna has an official population of just three. However, come lunch and dinnertime, these numbers multiply, as visitors flock to the Prairie Hotel for a feast well worth the five-hour drive from Adelaide.
Owners and operators, Jane and Ross Fargher, have the Flinders Ranges in their heart, with four generations of the Fargher family having run sheep and cattle in the area. The husband-and-wife team have run the family’s 870-square-kilometre Nilpena Station since 1984, when Jane first moved to the region. In 1991 they bought their ‘local’ and have since managed the development and running of the hotel. Their two sons Lachie and Eddie are an integral part of the team.
Step into a haven of character, charm and country hospitality, with a range of rooms available for every level of creature comfort. Renovations courtesy of One Small Room have seen refurbishments of the hotel rooms, the Front Bar, Restaurant, Guest Lounge, Railway Fettlers Cottages and the Captain’s Cottage – contemporising all the Prairie’s facilities.
Eco-focused travellers will love the innovative deluxe rooms that combine energy-efficient design with outback architecture. The spacious bedroom and lounge area is partially set into the earth, and on ground-level is the entrance lobby, ensuite bathroom and luggage area. There is an internal private guest lounge and courtyard too. For the luxurious experience, splurge on an executive king room, complete with a double spa, panoramic windows offering extensive views to the Ranges and a spacious living zone including a sink and wet area.
With the Flinders Ranges National Park on its doorstep, Arkaroola, the Gammon Ranges and Lake Torrens just next door, it’s the perfect base for adventurers to go exploring. Ask the friendly staff for a map and seek out a secluded waterhole in a nearby gorge on a hot summer’s day, or take an energetic walk through the Parachilna Gorge to the Blinman Pools waterfall.
Post sunset, head to the award-winning restaurant. The Prairie Hotel “cult” feral food menu has been recognised as 1 of 20 “unmissable outback experiences” using Australian native ingredients and “Flinders feral” twists. Each seasonal menu is influenced by Executive Chef, Darren Whaites. As a result, wattle and acacia seeds, saltbush, pepper leaf, thyme, lemon myrtle, bush tomatoes and muntries – also known as bush apple – all appear peppered throughout the menu.
With a focus on provenance, everything in the kitchen is sourced as locally as possible. Open your culinary adventure with the feral antipasto, featuring smoked kangaroo and pastrami, house-made emu liver pate, camel mettwurst, goat’s cheese, bush tomato chilli ham, chargrilled vegetables and warm ciabatta.
Adventurous eaters should move onto the FMG (feral mixed grill), a meal listed in the top 100 gourmet experiences in Australia. It’s not hard to see why: it includes kangaroo fillet, emu fillet mignon, camel sausage, roast potato, baked tomato and a red wine jus. For other diners – there’s a dish for every taste and texture, including the 350g chargrilled sirloin and Spencer Gulf King George whiting, available beer battered or grilled with steamed seasonal greens or salad.
Dessert is a must. The quandong (native peach) crumble pie is served with quandong and roast almond gelato, while the chocolate wattleseed pudding is accompanied by vanilla bean gelato and warm chocolate sauce. There’s also a range of cheeses on offer, including the indulgent King Island double brie, served with chilli-glacéed quandongs and lavosh wafers.
The drinks menu follows the same ‘local’ philosophy, with wines from some of South Australia’s most famous family owned vineyards and their very own boutique beer ‘Fargher lager’. Drinks are also available in the Front Bar, where local and imported pints are served with a side of conversation. An all-day grazing menu is also on hand to halt hunger in its tracks.
The restaurant and guest lounge area play host to rotating exhibitions, ranging from Contemporary Aboriginal art, local photography by Peter MacDonald, jewellery inspired by the pristine Ediacaran fossil site nearby and colourful silk-dyed scarves and oil paintings, so there’s always something new to discover.
During your stay you can enjoy the sunset on the verandah, or stay up late at the bar with locals and other travellers. You can simply relax in the Guest Lounge and dissolve into that great Australian novel, peruse the art and merchandise. With so much on offer, you’ll be sure to find your little piece of paradise at the Prairie.