Another travel day southwards

Continuing our journey southwards we set off before 9am from our lovely overnight free camp at Mount John Rest Area. Back on the Stuart Highway and there was still quite a few RV’s on the road. It is still school holidays in SA so maybe that’s why.

We stopped briefly at the Quarantine Bin in Marla to drop off our left over fruit and veggies that are banned from South Australia. We didn’t have much to dispose off though. Just a bit of fruit and some baby tomatoes.

The country side along the way to Coober Pedy is all red desert with scrubby bush and mostly flat for as far as the eye can see. Funny! This was how I imagined the Red Centre to be and it wasn’t like that at all. The Red Centre is a land of hills, jump ups and rocky sandstone ridges with sand dunes and desert in between. We chatted about that on the UHF as we drove along and we all agreed that we were surprised by the Red Centre landscape. In particular we all loved Alice Springs and how the town is built in between the rocky hills of the MacDonnell Ranges.

Stopped in Coober Pedy to top up with water, use the dump point, top up with fuel and get some groceries at the IGA. The IGA in Coober Pedy is a very well stocked supermarket and newsagency. Prices are a little higher than we are used to but it is a long way from anywhere so freight would be a high cost. Still we were glad to stock up on fruit & veggies and basic supplies.

We had a lunch break parked in the carpark near the iconic Coober Pedy sign. Just about every RV that goes by stops in there to have their photo taken under the ‘Big Blower’.

South of Coober Pedy we passed the turnoff to Prominent Hill Mine. Wonder what they mine there. Will have to look it up when we get some service.

Edit @ 02/08/2022: I looked up Prominent Hill Mine and it is a major copper, silver and gold mine. It began production in 2006 and is expected to run until 2030. It has an open pit and two underground mines accessible from the open pit. It cost $1.15 billion to develop and is projected to produce 100,000 tonnes of copper and 115,000 ounces of gold per year..

We stopped for the night at a fabulous spot we found on WikiCamps. It is simply called Salt Lake Rest Area and to find it you have to very carefully watch for the track leading of the road. It is very easy to miss. The narrow sandy track leads over a sand dune and there before you is the salt lake. The lake is not visible from the road. The track continues down the other side of the dune and onto the edge of the lake bed. It is a good solid sandy track but could be slippery if wet.

There are lots of spots to camp along the track and it looks like the track might go all the way around the roughly circular lake. We found a good spot, set up camp and got the fire going to cook our dinner.

We’d had a big driving day and achieved 480km. I think everyone was very glad to get out of the vehicles and wander around the lake. The kids took off exploring and I wondered how long it would be before one of them got stuck in the mud. The surface of the lake can be deceiving. It looks dry but when you step on it, it is mushy mud underneath. Sure enough Riley got stuck in the mud. We could hear squealing as the other two rescued him from the sucking mud. We thought it quite funny when he came back looking sad that his boots were all muddy. We explained that he shouldn’t worry about it. They would dry near the fire and the mud will be able to be brushed off in the morning. No problem.

Pa and Riley were our chief BBQ cooks and capably cooked our sausages and rissoles on the Biji-BBQ. Katie cooked a yummy potato a bake and mixed veggies to go with it and we enjoyed our dinner under the stars.

The stars were very bright in the night sky. Our friend Kathy, who has just returned from a fabulous trip on The Ghan, had recommended we download an app called Sky View Lite so we gave it a try and it is amazing. You hold your phone up to the sky and if you point it at an object it tells you what it is. Brilliant. Thanks Kathy.

After a great nights sleep and a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs & bacon, the kids and I set off to walk around the salt lake. We discovered on the other side of the lake there was another salt lake on the other side of the dunes. We also discovered the track doesn’t go all the way around and we had to bush bash a couple of times. It took us about 45 minutes to complete the circumnavigation of the lake. It was a lovely walk in the bush. There are so many lovely plants in the desert country. Check them out.


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