In the last podcast we talked about how awesome South Australia is, but we ran out of time just talking about Adelaide and Kangaroo Island. And there’s even more to the state than that!
Northwest of Adelaide is the Eyre Peninsula, where you can swim with sharks or tuna, visit national parks, ancient caves and the Nullarbor Plain among other adventures.
If you’re looking for places called Eyre (perhaps you’re a Charlotte Brontë fan?) Lake Eyre might be worth a visit. The lake is dry for most of the time but occasionally fills with water, especially after times of heavy rain in the north. The flooding in Queenstown this year and last has meant that the lake has had water in it for the last couple of years, and in 2008 we were lucky enough to see the lake for ourselves. If you don’t have pilots as family members you can do a scenic flight from Coober Pedy, William Creek, Marree, Adelaide or even Brisbane, though it’s a rather expensive day out. You could also choose a tour by 4×4 that takes you to the edge of the lake to see it from the ground.
We decided to head north from Adelaide and hopped on a tour with Adventure Tours Australia, which we found a good way to traverse the outback to Alice Springs. Not a lot of people seemed to be doing the journey independently and those who were doing it were super-equipped. A tour was a good way to see the highlights while not having to buy all the equipment necessary for crossing a desert.
We started in Quorn, a good jumping-off point for visiting the Flinders Ranges. We climbed Dutchman’s Stern and walked out to Wilpena Pound, as well as seeing the yellow-footed rock wallabies at Warren Gorge. We had the chance to see an abandoned town at Kanyaka and aboriginal rock art at Yourambulla. Pichi Richi Camel Tours have an operation near Quorn, so we did a half-hour camel ride with them.
From Quorn, we drove to Coober Pedy, famous for its opals, its heat, and its underground houses. Dwellings are dug out of the rock and maintain a comfortable temperature of around 22ºC day and night, though are mostly set into rocky hills and aren’t actually below street level. You can visit a number of old mines and buy opals in every second store, but we particularly enjoyed visiting the Old Timer’s Mine with its self-guided tour. Next door is the Comfort Inn, where we wish we’d stayed, and the underground church.
From there we headed north to the Northern Territory to visit Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon and Alice Springs, but there was still a lot behind us that we hadn’t seen in South Australia, waiting for our next trip there.
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- 1. Don’t drive at night in areas where there’s more dead kangaroos than live kangaroos.
- 2. Campervans have a high centre of gravity and Falcon Wagons are rear wheel drive with lots of grunt. Be extremely careful if you are not familiar with these vehicles. It’s easy to roll a van and easy to lose control of a Falcon if you’re inexperienced.
- 3. Give dirt roads / unsealed roads more respect, even 40km/h can be too fast if you’re not careful.
- 4. Don’t hitchhike–not all people who hitchhike meet axe murderers, but some do.
- 5. Check the inside edge of your front tyres regularly: poor wheel alignment causes tyres to scrub out quickly and a front tyre blow out is very scary.
- 6. Always wear your seatbelt.
- 7. If driving on left for the first time, leave the music off for a while and ask the person in the left seat to act as lookout.
- 8. Don’t leave valuables visible inside your car when parking at popular tourist destinations.
- 9. Do everything humanly possible to avoid overheating your car. If your temp gauge moves away from normal stop and call roadside assistance. Do not drive on.
- 10. Beware of retirees, offering cups of tea at outback roadside rest stops–.it could be hours before you manage to get away again without being rude.