Back in early August I wrote a post called Planning a holiday to Ayers Rock. The planning hasn’t stopped. It’s gone through a few changes since it was first conceived, but the final plan is almost set, and in just a few days we’re heading off on our great road trip to central Australia.
From Canberra we’re going to Berri in South Australia (SA) where I’ll be introducing my wife to my mum for the first time. The next day we’re going to Coober Pedy, SA (directly to the west of William Creek on the map above – unfortunately Google Maps didn’t want to display the name), and then on to Uluru (Ayers Rock) on the third day. It will take 3 days to get there!
We’re hanging out in Ayers Rock for 3 nights to enjoy some sightseeing of the rock and nearby Olgas, as well as a ‘dinner under the stars’, then we’re heading back to Coober Pedy to spend a night and check out the opal mines. The next day we’re going through the Painted Desert to get to Oodnadatta, where we’ll spend a night.
Oodnadatta is where we’ll be starting our journey down the Oodnadatta Track, and we’re going to take it slow and easy to enjoy the beauty of the desert and the history along the way.
The Oodnadatta Track offers one of the best Outback drives in Australia. Steeped in history, natural wonders and a rich cultural heritage, the track is perhaps Australia’s most fascinating and historic outback trail.
It was the route for 19th century explorers like John McDouall Stuart. The track follows an old Aboriginal trading route through semi-desert country with artesian springs and waterholes along the way. It now carries tourist traffic all year round.
See the colourful, ever-changing landscape and stop at small outback towns along the way like Oodnadatta, Marree, Marla and William Creek.
The Oodnadatta Track bypasses beautiful Lake Eyre and dissects the incredible natural phenomenon of the artesian “mound” spring belt, which stretches from Marree through to the splendidly warm Dalhousie Springs. And the country surrounding the Oodnadatta Track is dotted with Aboriginal history and Dreaming.
It’s a barren wasteland out there, in the desert lands of central Australia. I’m really excited! It’s going to be a rugged off-road adventure that’s going to be awesome!
After following the Oodnadatta Track we’ll reach William Creek, on the southern edge of Lake Eyre, the largest salt water lake in Australia.
We’ll stay overnight there as well, and maybe take a plane to look around Lake Eyre and get some photos from the air. That’s if there’s any water in it…. If it’s dry, we’ll not worry about it and just keep driving down the Oodnadatta Track until we reach Marree, where we’ll stay overnight as well. This is where the Track ends – or where it begins, if you’re starting from this point.
The idea is that by taking it easy, we’ll get to enjoy it more. From Coober Pedy to Oodnadatta is 4 hours drive at 50km/h. It’s about the same from Oodnadatta to William Creek, and again on to Marree. And then we’re back to civilisation and sealed roads from Marree down to Port Augusta through the Flinders Ranges.
I grew up in Port Augusta, and we’re staying there overnight so I can show my wife around this small town that was so influential for me. A country town on the southern edge of the Flinders Ranges and at the top of Spencers Gulf, it was once a major port in the 1800’s, and up until the 1990’s was also a major hub for the Australian National Railways. There’s also a power station there, and that and the railways used to be its primary reason for anyone to live there. When I grew up there in the 1970’s to 1980’s, it had a population of 27,000. When the railways shifted their hub to Adelaide, thousands of people left as well. Now its population is only 13,000. When the power station ends up being decommissioned, there’ll be even less of a reason for those thousands of people to live there, and its final gasping attempt for importance will simply be the ‘gateway to the rest of Australia’. To get to Western Australia or Northern Territory from anywhere south of the QLD border, you have to go through Port Augusta.
From Port Augusta we’ll go back to Berri, and then back to Canberra. It’ll be 12 days worth of adventure, and around 6,000km. There’s going to be so many photos!!
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Four days to go before we leave, and I’m counting down….
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