At Oodnadatta we decided to camp at the Pink Roadhouse camp ground. That was somewhat of an experience but quite adequate for our needs. One interesting feature was the “Camp Kitchen”. See photo below.
The following day we grabbed a key for a visit to the Oodnadatta Museum. After browsing the museum for a while we left Oodnadatta and headed for The Painted Desert. I had visited The Painted Desert on 2 previous occasions but none of the rest of the crew had. I naturally was a little anxious whether or not they would enjoy it as much as I had previously. I think the slide show below, while not completely doing The Painted Desert justice, it does go a long way to get a feel for the area.
After a fabulous walk and some lunch at The Painted Desert we headed for Coober Pedy. On arrival we checked into the Oasis Caravan Park, none too soon considering the line up at the entrance to the park. As I was checking in, Chris noticed that we had a flattish tyre on the camper that appeared to be going down as we watched. We quickly got our camper on our allocated site and then I proceeded to change tyres once more. Boy, were we having bad luck with tyres this trip. This tyre made a total of 4 punctures. Two of the tyres had to be dumped due to wall punctures. I purchased two cheap Chinese tyres to get by with until we get home. We booked ourselves into a morning tour of the town and also into an evening tour of The Breakaways. These tours were run by the owner of the Oasis Caravan Park and fabulous tours they were. Other than me passing through Coober Pedy last year on the way home from doing the Canning, Chris and I had only been to Coober Pedy once before in 1984 . It was not a town that we ever considered a place to stop for a while, but on closer inspection, over 3 days we soon changed our mind and would recommend anybody passing through to spend a little time taking in the local attractions. When one considers that 80% of the population live underground and there is even an underground “International Hotel”, it is a very interesting place.
Our evening tour to The Breakaways was sensational. The Breakaways are not un-similar to the The Painted Desert but are also unique in their own way. See the slide show below for The Breakaways and surrounds on our tour.
From Coober Pedy we headed down the Stuart Hwy until 50 Km short of Glendambo where we took a dirt road to Kingoonya. Reaching Kingoonya in time for lunch and also some much needed Fuel. There was some considerable difficulty getting fuel as the self serve equipment was having trouble connecting to the internet to pre-approve our purchase. There was nobody about to seek assistance as it was completely self serve. We absolutely needed fuel and eventually we had success. Luckily we had persisted with many attempts to get communication with our banks. Modern technology strikes again.
From Kingoonya we headed for Lake Gairdner NP, Waltumba Tank Campground, firstly with an overnight bush camp south of Kokotha Station. As it was getting late and camp spots appeared to be rare, we grabbed the first likely camp spot off the road that we came across. As luck would have it when we set off the next morning a couple of Km further on there were a plethora of fabulous potential bush camps.
As we had no maps with the Lake Gairdner campground marked on it, we overshot the turn off and ended up at Pondanna Ruins before retracing our steps to make camp. A distance of around 30 km. Interestingly Chris and I had camped at the camp ground in 2009 at had no trouble finding it then as it was clearly shown on our maps. Why none of our more recent maps did not show the campground is somewhat of a mystery.
The next day we headed for Gawler Ranges NP. In Kingoonya we had used telephone/internet access to book ourselves into Chillinie Campground. no longer are you able to self register in most National Parks in most states of Australia. The exceptions are the NT and I think VIC. For nomadic travellers it is a real hassle because most of the time there is no coverage and you have to know the details of the park camp grounds before you go. No travellers that we have run into like this new system. If we had telephone cover in all parts it would not be a problem but very few of the parks that we go to have any phone cover whatsoever. However the Gawler Ranges are a very interesting area to explore. See the slide show below.
While at Gawler Ranges NP for a few days, we made a day trip into Minnipa and Wudinna to so we could have internet/phone coverage to enable us to extend our stay. We also wanted to visit Pildappa Rock and explore Sturts Track back to the park and our camp. A sensational drive that should not be missed if in the area.
Luckily we had the Chillinie campground to ourselves. We dreaded getting neighbours particularly in light of the fact that generators are allowed from 9 am to 9 pm. Absolutely ridiculous. There are 6 camp grounds in the Gawler Ranges NP and all of them allow generators and ironically the brochure for the park has the gall to talk of the tranquillity of the park. We had arrived at the park on the 11th Sept and headed out through Kimba on the 14th, headed for Port August and beyond, with a planned stop at the historic copper mining town of Burra.
Reaching the outskirts of Port Augusta there was a sudden bump at the rear of our vehicle and checking the rear view mirror the camper was on a distinct lean. Crap! what’s happened. Then we notice one of the camper wheels down in the ditch along side the road. On inspection we had somehow sheared off the wheel studs on the left hand side camper wheel. This was not good, it was 3 pm on a Friday afternoon. Pt Augusta was not a place that would care to stay for the weekend and into the next week while the camper is being repaired.
As it happens, the RACV/RAA had the camper trucked into a repair place by about 4 pm. Fabulous bunch of people at Augusta Undercar had us back on the road by 10:30 the following morning. Thanks to all those people who stopped to make sure we were OK including a truckie driving a B-Double. Also especially the fellow Quantum Camper owner who hung around to make sure everything was OK and then rang me on Saturday morning to offer any assistance with parts for repairs, he was a local from Whyalla. Country folk – fabulous. On reflection as to the cause, it is embarrassing to admit I had committed a terrible sin. One should always recheck wheel nuts, particularly after changing a wheel. I had put that wheel on myself in Coober Pedy and had not rechecked the wheel nuts despite many km over corrugated dirt roads. Lesson learned!
Saturday afternoon we arrived in Burra and set up camp at the local campground for 2 nights. The next morning we purchased a “Burra Heritage Passport”. This enables a self guided tour of Burra’s historic precincts and provides you with a key to visit various heritage listed buildings. It is a fabulous town to visit. It was once the site of the worlds richest and largest copper mine.
After 2 excellent nights in Burra it was time to without delay head for home, the plan being to arrive in the morning of Wednesday the 19th to give us time to unpack and clean out the dust and do some shopping in the afternoon. We spent one night in Mildura at the Apex Caravan Park then our final night in Kyneton, less than 100 km from home. As planned we arrived home about 11 am. The end of 4 months and about 15,000 km.
Till next time that’s all folks. Except, as I do have a little video footage, when time allows I will put together a video of our trip with some of the highlights . With some strong determination I will try and limit it to less than 10 min.