Today was a very exciting day as from now on we will be in unfamiliar territory!
We woke up to another very cold morning but the sun came out and wow, what a lovely day!
After a farewell chat with our neighbours, packing up and refuelling, we were off – heading North along the Stuart Highway, a road we haven’t travelled on before. Not far out of Port Augusta and we were in saltbush country – that is all there was to see. It was a great road and ideal driving weather, but the scenery was a little boring. There were some large road trains occasionally, a few sheep grazing here and there, and cattle grids to keep us awake.
Our first stop for a coffee was at Ranges View Rest Area (SA418) where we took a few photos of the scenery.
As we continued North, the scenery changed and then changed again – it wasn’t boring any more but continually changing from low saltbush scrub to more bushy scrub, to orange sand dunes to rocky patches, and even what may have been lakes. Although on the surface things looked pretty dry, the edges of the road and the paddocks were actually that lovely red sticky mud that all travellers love to hate.
At one stage we were passed by a bunch of bikies, who we caught up with and were overtaken by several times during the day.
Just for added interest, we drove over a very long train.
Somewhere along the way we stopped at another un-named and unsigned roadside stop for a quick stretch of the legs and to take a few photos of views across to what we’re pretty sure is “Island Lagoon”.
We stopped for lunch at Spud’s Roadhouse at Pimba. Very much a typical outback establishment, Spud’s serves fuel, food, alcohol, is a general store, offers accommodation and has pokies. A great all-rounder. It was cold and windy so we couldn’t resist a small bag of very fresh and tasty hot chips – we did have some healthy stuff for lunch too! The roadhouse also offers free camping and there are clean toilets and showers available for a small fee.
From Pimba we headed north through Woomera. This is very much dry, arid country with red rocky soil. With only low vegetation, the power pylons stand out against the sky. We assume that they take power to Roxby Downs and Olympic Dam.
Other than occasional road traffic there are virtually no signs of stock or wild-life, although we did see a family of emus. There is also surprisingly little road kill, which is probably a good thing.
We arrived at Apoma Camping Ground at Andamooka. This is an opal mining town near Roxby Downs. There are piles of mining waste everywhere, even around houses.
Apoma is a very “outback” camp ground but does have good clean amenities including pay showers, BBQs, a playground and a dump-ezy dump-point. There is no power or water, and no TV reception. At the moment it also has lots of red mud, so we made sure that we stopped on high ground. There were three vans here when we arrived and a group of three vans travelling together set up camp not long after and immediately commenced a noisy happy hour around a big fire.
Across the road from us is a “Public Noodling Area” where loads of rocks are dumped and the public has a chance to go through looking for the elusive opal. The chap in one of the established vans here told us that he has been coming here for years and has made some quite good finds.
We were quite weary after arriving here so we settled inside in Bertha as soon as it started getting cold. The diesel heater might have to go on later. Tomorrow we will do some exploring in town and then head back to the highway at Pimba to continue our trip North.