Cooper Pedy SA
Coober Pedy’s five-day stay was something different. Face masks inside businesses, inside mountains. Howling winds didn’t stop and the dirt from all the digging made it more than just a tad dusty. It went from freezing nights when we first arrived, too hot nights where sweat dribbled mud from every pore.
Yes, it had more downs than ups with a caravan park asking $25.00 for no power, no available drinking water, no dump point, and only one bin to share between powered and unpowered sites.
We give Riba’s Underground Camping & Caravan Park just 2 stars out of 5. The two are because they had showers and toilets even though the cubicles were tight, and it felt safe being five kilometres out of town.
For those coming here, there is a free camp in town and although you have to be early to get a spot, there looked plenty of room late afternoon to squeeze in a camper trailer or whizbang. For those not knowing, hubby calls campervans whizbangs, because when they pull up the only thing you hear all night is the side door whizzing open and bang, it’s closed. Chuckle.
The underground church and opal stores were my favourites and no guessing hubbies. The spaceship used in the movie, Pitch Black, starring Vin Diesel. It was a real hit with him, as he loved that film. As for opal stores, every second shop was an opal outlet. A bit like going to Broome. The pearl industry has many selling outlets because the pearl farm is close by.
To sum it up, I have nicknamed Coober Pedy, Coober Pity. It’s a dust bowl with howling winds day in day out and I pity those who have to stay and cough up endless dust balls.
It’s not on the top of our list to ever come back, but is for sure worth one visit just to see the homes and businesses built in mountains.
In saying that, there is still a small community living above ground who we believe must be the underprivileged population, because why would anyone want to live above ground with the soring heat and wind. We were told the homes stay a cool 24° degrees all year round. So that is the real plus to this style of underground housing.
Nope, not for me
Moving day to Bon Bon 24 hr rest area.
Went into town this morning and fought the wind, filled our water tanks, and emptied the portaloo. Possibly not a good time to travel, but we had committed to moving today and figured once we turned onto the highway, the breeze should push us along, which would help fuel economy. And it did. So there was that, but there wasn’t a great deal else to look at except the vacant flat land spread out as far as the eye could see.
The exception was when stopping to see if a guy was alright, who had gone off the road into a paddock, his trailer twisted and on its side. Was limping but waved us off saying he was fine and waiting for a tow truck.
Later it was us in the bother. Who knew we were heading into a storm. No news forecast about it and no reception now to check how bad it will get. Just known by the fading view and dark clouds, we were heading straight into something. Our stopover was almost an hour away. Nothing much in between and nowhere to hide out in the flatness. Suddenly, the strong winds pulled at our awning and by the time we found a place to get off the road to fix it, the awning was ripped and shredded. Well, wasn’t that an exercise to fix? Trying to manoeuvre the van on an angle to get it out of the wind was impossible as the stormy breeze was circular and kicked our butts every time we got out of the car. Dirt and rocks stung our legs as hubby fought to save what was left of the shredded awning and tie it up. Finally, fixed and a hot cuppa and a sango in hand, we headed off to find a safer spot to hold up from the sand storm we could see brewing in the distance. The sky was becoming dark red.
Just in time, we pulled into Bon Bon rest area and buttoned down the hatches as the van rocked so hard our rocker recliners needed no help from us to be in a thrashing rocking motion. Finally, some other cars moved on… Crazy. So, hubby moved the van longways as close to the shelter on the protected side, and vwulla, we got through the rest of the story easier.
So, we are still here to tell the story, and no, we haven’t been out to check the damage, as we heard no bangs and crashes. But enjoyed the sunset view from inside once the sky cleared and wind and storm clouds disappeared. Tomorrow is another new day, and hopefully, Mother Nature is not so bossy. Stop, she said, and we did.
The next morning, the same view. Sand settled, the wind died down, back to normal.
Day 2 – Lake Heart (salt lake)
Still windy, but clear and dust-free, we head off on a new day’s adventure. We found the drive so much more entertaining today, in a good way. Mountain range moved around us with their powerful presence, and we found some lakes along the way. Admittedly, they were only salt lakes, but it meant we were getting closer to water.
Island Lagoon Lookout 24 hr rest stop
In the afternoon, we pulled up and spent the night overlooking another picturesque view at Island Lagoon Lookout. Magic end to an exceptional day. Oh, and how we have missed the salt lake landscapes. White by day, but when the sun slips past the mountains and out of sight, they can be the prettiest of blue. The illusion amazing, making us feel we were right there when it was full of gushing water.
The road is long and windy but getting more interesting.
The closer we got to Port Augusta, the prettier the view. Blue shadows of a mountain range squeezed in closer as the fluffy white clouds hugged the rugged tops. The imagery of civilization blistered the surface, where premier power poles spiked deep, and pipes to carry water far beyond our line of sight made an impact with the brilliant white against red dirt.
Arid Land Botanical Gardens & Matthew Flinders Red Cliff lookout
We spotted a sign, yay the road was sealed, and what a pretty sight for gritty sore eyes. It was the entrance to the Australian Arid Land Botanic Gardens. Sure broke the trip, and after a home-cooked pie, scones and cream, and a cuppa, the walk through the lively bush garden was a breath of fresh air. Birds, bees, ground critters, and plant life kept us happily captivated until the path ended. Love to come back to do the $10.00 tour, but the time slot was not available, so we drove to the lookout before leaving.
What a surprise for us both when we saw water. A lot. Something we hadn’t seen for quite some time. Nature sure turns it on for the tourist. A must-visit travelling buddies if you are out this way.
Finally, houses and planted trees lined the road. We had arrived at Port Augusta. Like all weary travellers, we headed straight to the local Sports Club where they have drinking water, a dump point and it’s only $8.00 a night. That’ll do us for a few nights.
Settled in, we sat chatting to old mate Jeff we had met up with for the third time, and a lovely Dutch couple from Tasmania, who parked next to us. Joined later by a couple with three cute kids. The day darkened, and we all headed in to have dinner. Most likely catch up with them all again on the road, but until then, we hold nice memories of the end of a dusty, windy trip.
We have one foot in civilization and one dreamily kicking at the sand while looking out to sea. What a pretty town. A must-see travelling buddies.
With Star resting by the lapping waters of the ocean, enjoying salty tasting air and views to the north, we took a drive up to Drummock lookout.
Breathing fresh air and absorbing the wonders of Whyalla’s beach, wharf, and industry, it was easy to see why those who come here to stay. Make a life for themselves between the distinguished neighbourhood and mighty seas.
The circular wharf was a new treat and discovering a family of dolphins playing within the strange construction was one more testament of how unpredictable our days on the road can be. A stunning sight out of the blue waters was pure delight.
Of course, we couldn’t help but make one more stop on the way home to see the most famous dog in the land. Why? A story by a famous Australian will keep you guessing. Enjoy the story as it unfolds below.
You know the most amazing thing about travelling. Plans can change as quickly as they are made. Sometimes all it takes is to wake up in the morning and simply look outside.
For us, it was moving day anyway. Maybe it was only to a different cheaper site, but if the weather sets in, on the road you don’t want to find yourself parked up for a week in mud and slush. This is what we were looking at after checking the next week of predicted rain and storms.
So, we kept driving past the new location, out of town and away from the murky clouds rumbling and firing off lightning blasts, ducking the downpour and cold slush that splat on the windscreen. Yes, it got hostile out here as mother nature took this moment to clean the earth, and notably clear away the garbage lazy travellers spill into the landscape and can’t be bothered picking up. She gets cranky with those who crap in the campsites and leave toilet paper strewn everywhere. Who has a meal and tosses the wrappings and leaves their mess for someone else to pick up. Yes, folks, some areas are worse than others. Aussie piglets who are feeling guilty about doing this. Stop! Think! Put it in a bin!
Or, feel Mother Nature’s wrath and her anger more intense as she sends out a simple message. “Pick up your game or I will huff and puff and blow your crap and rubbish away! Possibly back into your own front yard.”
Expected to see Kimba the White Lion but was not disappointed when he was nowhere to be found. Because, OMG, this has to be the state’s best-kept secrets. A tiny town in the middle of Timbuktu and yet this sweet rose loving town fully turns it on for travellers of all types.
We can spend 5 nights on large flat sites with a camp kitchen, a dump point, 2 blocks of new style toilets and coin-operated showers, and all for free. Not only that, but the owner of the local pub picks up and drop-offs for dinner at night, at no charge. Yep, got my vote for the cleanest and friendliest free campground ever.
A tour of the town took us first, to see the biggest gosh darn gala you’ve ever seen. And as entertaining as it, the real galahs and other animal statues were, it was the wafting of fresh-baked pastries and bread that had us spend up on bakery treats.
But please, travelling buddies, do yourselves a favour. Stop at the bakery to peruse the souvenirs and take pictures of the famous galah, but pop across the road to retrieve the pasty lovelies you are hankering for. The pies are huge, sausage rolls have real sausage meat and not… Well, maybe galah meat (chuckle). And although they don’t sell spinach and cheese pastries, you won’t be disappointed when you munch away and find out it is a veg pasty, nothing more. Not one skerrick of green spinach to be seen. My apologies to those who have had a pleasant experience at the bakery, our was very ho hum
We did, however, enjoyed exploring the rest of this quaint little town with the sweetness of country life and yet modern, where art explodes in an array of talent on the solo’s, and again up at the lookout. Here, two massive males bonded for life show a powerful presence of comradery and tower over the land, keeping a watchful eye on many generations to come.
Well, travelling buddies, we are all caught up and hope you enjoyed this little skip across the top end of South Australia. There are so many places yet to explore so hope you can join us as we head for the ocean road and all those individual towns in between. For now, we are enjoying a couple of days veging and catching up on some Netflix. Anything to keep us out of the car. We head off again Monday to a brand new adventure. Chat to you soon.
For those enjoying these stories of travel here is one of my favourites. A travelling story but enhanced with magic to make it even more fun. The EBook of Cassandra, goddess of harmony is on promotion this week at the low price of 99 cents if you are interested in intergalactic travel. Link below.
The story: Cassandra Goddess of Harmony
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*If you would prefer a paperback copy, please order from us by leaving a message below. The prices on Amazon are so inflated it is ridiculous. Sent within Australia $35.00 each (includes delivery). International delivery charge will have to be quoted.