Left Roxby and had a short stop at Woomera, then the long drive to Coober Pedy, some fantastic views on the way that seem to appear out of nowhere over huge lakes. Some much more impressive to look at than Lake Eyre! The drive from Woomera took us around 5 hours, with a few wee stops and petrol at Glendambo. Check out the pics I took from the window as we travel into Australia’s dry red centre!!
We decided to drive the van along the Oodnadatta track and down Borefield road to Roxby Downs rather than back track on the bitumen. We took it slow on the dirt roads and it wasn’t too bad till the last 20km into Roxby where the track was badly corrugated. Jackaroo (van) pulled through OK but we doubt it would survive too much of that sort of driving. Saw the longest snake I have ever seen on the road and many Wedge Tail Eagles.
We did the Olympic dam mine tour, mixed feelings on it quite amazing and at the same time it was like a propaganda promo. Back in town we stopped at the library and join as visitors so the boys borrowed a few books and a DVD. Meet school principal who took us through a few class room in the school. Everyone here is very friendly.
Drove out to Andamooka the next day and while wandering the town meet a local couple Lance and Bev who took us out to their favorite noodling spot. They explained how opal if formed, showed us how to noodled and what to look for. They were great with the kids and we collected and chatted for ages. We went back to their house (caravan) for a cuppa and Lance gave the boys some fossilized Dinosaur poo! It was a fantastic day.
With the worst of the wind gone we moved on to Marree and did a day trip along the Oodnadatta Track to Coward Springs. Where we had a dip in the warm spring, boys loved it and didn’t want to leave, all I needed was a glass of red and could have stayed for hours. We checkout the hot springs around the area and stopped at a lookout over Lake Eyre South. It was great, but you can’t get a true appreciation of its enormous size from the ground. We walk out to the sand but you are unable to get close to the water as it becomes smelly black sinking mud.
We drove back to Leigh creek for supplies and hooked up the caravan form the Cook’s house and we were off again. We stopped at Farina; a Station 25 km north of Lyndhurst it was once a bustling pioneer’s town on the Ghan railway, now an historic ruin that come’s a live for 3 – 4 weeks every year in May. Volunteers from around the country (mainly grey nomads) come and work on the old buildings that are left to preserve them from deteriorating further. The old bakery has been full restored and incredibly, is fully operating during these few weeks, baking bread, jam and apple scrolls, sausage rolls, pasties and even pizza on special request. It was amazing! a ghost town in the middle of nowhere and fresh bread, tea and coffee. We were there for the last weekend which they finish off with a 20-20 cricket match against 'Farina' (restoration crew) and 'The Rest' (nearby towns, stations and campers). The Cooks and Susannah’s parents came for the afternoon and we ate from the bakery, wondered the ruins, chatted to many eager volunteer’s and watched the very fun and friendly cricket match with some quite tipsy players. We said our final farewells to the Cooks and spent 3 nights waiting out a storm that hit Adelaide, which we got the tail end of with full on wind’s and some rain.
Great spot to ride out the weather, kids did some schooling and we rode the bikes around the once again ghost town.
We left the van (which we have now named Jackaroo) in Leigh Creek so we could go to Arkaroola on some fairly rough and corrugated dirt roads.
Our first trip in the new tent without power and a chance to use all our new gadgets, like the solar panels to charge the Thumper (battery) to power the fridge and the LED strip lights. All worked perfectly. We had an amazing spot among the Gammon Ranges, watching the sunrise over one of the peaks every morning and a full moon rising over the same peak every night was pretty special. Very cold at night, had us all snuggled up close in the tent. Mice were everywhere at night, crawling all over the tent trying to get in. Fortunately the tent held up well and kept them out – we were very diligent in keeping the tent zipped up at all times! Spoke to many campers who were sharing their tent
with rogue mice– YUK!!
Heaps of bird life here from huge Wedge to tiny Red Hooded Robins – we brought an Australian Bird book and are all learning heaps.
We did the 5km Acacia Ridge walk which was spectacular and a bit nerve racking at the actual ridge. Meet George the helicopter pilot who offered to show the boys in the chopper. Definite highlight for them!
Our first time in doing some fun 4WDing when we headed out to Nooldoonooldoona Waterhole – wow what a mouthful. Mike did fantastic job driving Charlie (the 4WD) and loved it.
We spent the last night with our camp neighbours John and Marlene from Bendigo chatting for hours around our campfire, eating Easter eggs and drinking Musket, they gave us some great advice on places to go.
Back to Hawker for the morning to get van fixed and meet some grey nomads having repairs as well, they hadn’t seen their grandkids for a few weeks and adopted our boys for the morning, showing them their new i-pad and watching Foxtel in there huge 5th wheeler (the largest van I have seen!) kids loved it. Mike and I had time to wonder the town and catch up on emails.
Spent 4 nights enjoying the wonderful hospitality of the Cooks in Leigh Creek, kids had a ball playing together, we toured the town, Susannah and I had some power walks – just like old times. We visited the coal mine and Aroona dam which was a beautiful spot; we saw a snake and Susannah found a snake skin. Had a drink at the Copley pub, watched the local monthly Motor-cross racing, Martin and Mike took the Kids to the movies while Susannah and I drank a bottle of wine and had a great catch up. Martin cooked us fabulous food, we did heaps and had a great time. Check out the pics
Thanks again Martin Susannah Gypsy and Archie for opening your home to us and showing us around it was great to see you and we wish you all the best for your time in the outback.
We packed up and drove to Wilpena Pound with one stop at Hawker for lunch and a cuppa in the van. Arrived in Wilpena and after some time messing around wondering why we couldn’t get the van level, Mike investgated further to discover the right suspension was broken!?!? Our first week and our first break down! After many phone calls and emails Mike had us booked in for repairs on Friday back in Hawker. We used the jack to level the van and we were then able to relax. Looking on the bright side we were thankful this happened now and not in a few weeks’ time in a the middle of nowhere.
Wilpena put on a great display of wild life for us, from mobs of Emu’s of up to 11, kangaroo’s everywhere, wild goats and beautiful birds from parrots to eagle’s, one which swooped down and caught a small snake. Very cool!
We did a 2 hour walk into the pound from the caravan park to sliding rock, the homestead and Wangarra lookout. Yoga in the morning, I am getting used to rugging up for morning yoga. The sun did make an appearance every now and then but the tops of the mountains where often in cloud. We decided on visiting Sacred canyon, which was superb! Aboriginal artwork / engravings and fun climbing for the kids, this spot it had a great feel to it. Stokes Hill lookout had superb views of the peaks and a great 3-D map of the pound.
After a crazy week of packing the carvan and house we finally left on the 5th of May and drove about 5 hours to Melrose. One stop at Laura the home of Golden North Icecream which the boys loved!
We spent 5 nights in Melrose, on day 2 we did a 3 hour hike of the area called the Nature Walk, boys did well. Near the end Tommy decided he had had enough so sat down and refused to move. After some reassurance that we were nearly home and bribery of juice from the shop we were off again. This episoed did not deter us and the very next day decided to tackle Mount Remarkable. It was 12km return hike (plus the extra kilometre from our camp), we packed heaps of supplies and 3 hours later with 3 breaks we reached the top. A huge effort from the boys! 1/2 hour at the summit to refuel with sandwiches and 1 1/2 hour descent, realizing Tom had a hole in his shoe, we took turns piggy backing him the last 3km!!
As you may imagine day 3 was quite slow, Mike and I were a bit sore, had afternoon tea at a cafe - Mothers day treat.
We went to Alligator gorge which was beautiful the photos don't do it justice, drove to Pt Augusta for new shoes, did yoga outside in the crisp morning air, had marshmallows on the camp fire, sorted the caravan and the boys discovered a huge swing-bridge in the playground which was superb and a bit dangerous. Now making our way to Wilpena pound - St Mary's Peak - not sure?!?