50 years

2018 marked 50 years of tourism for Rawnsley Park Station

To celebrate, we have produced a book Pastoralism to Tourism: A History of Rawnsley Park Station.

Rawnsley Book cover

Launched by the then Federal Minister for the Environment and Energy Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Pastoralism to Tourism: A History of Rawnsley Park Station offers a fascinating insight into the history of the Station and its owners, the Smith family’s, long association with the Flinders Ranges.

Author Kym Tilbrook, a former senior journalist at The Advertiser, said he thoroughly enjoyed writing Pastoralism to Tourism, with the project taking just over a year.

Rawnsley Park Station welcomed its first paying guests in May 1968, with the then owners Clem and Alison offering basic accommodation in one cabin and running sheep shearing demonstrations to generate extra income on the then struggling sheep station.

Fifty years later, Rawnsley Park Station is a world-class tourism venture that is a key player in South Australia’s tourism industry. Under the stewardship of Clem and Alison’s eldest son, Tony, and his wife, Julie, Rawnsley Park Station has won multiple tourism awards, and their luxury eco-villas have been lauded as one of the best regional tourism developments in the State.

Owner Tony Smith said his parents’ vision and foresight had laid the foundations for Rawnsley Park Station becoming the success story it is today.

“Times were tough on a sheep station in the Flinders Ranges in the 1960s, and Clem and Alison realised they had to diversify to survive,” he said. “It was a decision that paid off.

Julie and I are delighted with how the book has turned out and believe it really captures the evolution of Rawnsley Park Station and our family’s deep affinity with the Flinders Ranges. It’s also an important chronicle of how tourism has developed in the region and provides a great insight into the history of the Flinders Ranges in general.


Containing stunning photography from leading photographers, and designed by Karen English of elevenacross, Pastoralism to Tourism describes the 12,000-hectare Rawnsley Park Station’s transformation from struggling pastoral property to tourism industry leader.

The book contains sections on the Smith family’s early links with the Flinders Ranges, the history of the property and the growth of tourism in the region – including early correspondence with the then SA Tourist Bureau – as well as personal recollections on growing up at Rawnsley by Tony Smith and his sons, Greg, Glenn and Neville.

There are also chapters on the geology of the Flinders Ranges, the Adnyamathanha people and the native flora and fauna, as well as sections on notable historical events such as the disappearance of Nicholas Bannon in 1959 and near-death experience of former Miss South Australia, Marilyn Gilbertson in 1967.

Order your copy now!