We woke to another lovely day – cold first thing but the sun soon warms things up. There seem to be a lot of very small birds here and they sound very happy. Before we left for the day’s journey I got out the tyre compressor and gave the tyres a bit of a top up – we constantly monitor our tyres with a TPMS and the tyres had lost a little pressure so it seemed a worthwhile effort to get them all a bit more consistent.
Once on the road and heading North-West pretty much the first thing we encountered on the highway was a “Prohibited Area” sign reminding us that we are in the Woomera Prohibited Area. Honestly we don’t intend straying off the main highway at all!
Our stop for morning coffee was at the Bon Bon Rest Area (433) – this is a “super” rest area and there aren’t too many like this one! Not only does it have sheltered chairs and tables, it has toilets, water for birds and pets, and an emergency telephone. Most rest areas are full of puddles and you’re lucky if there is a table, so this was a good find. Apart from occasional traffic noise, it was almost silent and amazingly peaceful. It would be a very good contender for an overnight stay.
Continuing along A87 we soon came to a spot where the highway doubles as a RFDS landing strip – the road is wider and there are various markings, plus a side area where presumably road vehicles can wait for the airplane to arrive. You don’t see these every day!
We were soon confronted by a pilot vehicle warning of an approaching ‘oversize vehicle’. It was oversize too – in fact it was an army tank! And a minute later came another one.
Lunch stop was at the Ingomar Rest Area (435) – not as flash as the previous one but it was a nice open flat spot with some shelter. Disappointingly there was a lot of rubbish around the place despite there being ample rubbish bins available.
Today has mostly been a drive along flat and arid plains, with occasional variations in the scenery. The road surface has, overall, been excellent, which has made the driving easier. Despite being in a Prohibited Area there are a number of pastoral stations operating here and there are various signs along the highway advising station names plus the fact that most of the area is unfenced and that there may be livestock on the road. Fortunately we didn’t meet anything on the road, but we didn’t see any live stock in the paddocks, or very little road kill on the side of the road.
At various places we saw small buildings and large aerial towers obviously powered by solar – makes total sense!
There were also various excavations and roads to mines and opal diggings. In particular there seemed to be a particular patch of opal diggings about 40 kilometres from Coober Pedy.
Some interesting signs welcomed us to Coober Pedy and we couldn’t resist taking Bertha’s photo under the welcoming opal “blower” truck on the outskirts of town (it has just been refurbished as hasn’t been sign-written as yet).
Before going to the caravan park we made an obligatory stop at the town “dump point” for obvious reasons. At the dump point there are also some water bowsers where you can fill up your water tanks for a fee. One thing you learn about travelling in remote areas is that you need to keep your fresh water tank full and your grey water tank and your toilet cassette empty. Places to fill and/or empty can be hard to find, so this place in Coober Pedy is a godsend to travellers.
We then made our way to the Opal Inn Caravan Park, and the first thing we did was to fill up our water tank – it was cheaper here than in the council facility. The first site allocated by the caravan park didn’t suit so we found another and did a decent set-up with power, sullage (onto the garden) and put out the awning. There is no water to individual sites and as a further reflection of the scarcity of water, the showers cost 20c for 4 minutes.
After setting up Bertha we went for a quick walk into town, but late on a Saturday afternoon isn’t ideal so we headed back to Bertha to relax. We went to the Opal Inn Motel Bistro for dinner tonight and had wonderful vegetarian pizza and some delicious deserts (we’ll go for a long walk tomorrow to work it off!).
Once again, nature treated us to a brilliant sun-set. Hopefully you can make out the silhouette of a miner in the photo.
We’ll be in Coober Pedy for at least a couple of days, so we’ll update this blog once we have more to report.