Western Australia Trip 2012 – Part 2 Port Augusta to Yulara

Friday, Nov 30, 2012 at 17:08

Member - John and Val

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The country was still unusually green as we pushed on towards Woomera. This stretch of road north of Port Augusta always gets us excited, as its about here that we realise that we truly are heading inland into that vast dry, mysterious interior. The white expanses of salt lakes, flat topped hills, the saltbush and silvery grasses all point to the long days of driving that lie ahead. Not that we were alone; there were plenty of road trains and many dead cattle to remind drivers to concentrate on the road ahead.

Woomera at last, looking much greener than our last visit here. We booked into the caravan park – a bare gravelled area, unhooked the trailer and got the tent up in the usual 3 minutes – not bad considering that its been 12 months since we have put the tent up. After dinner we shared a cuppa with Trevor, our neighbour for the night. He was travelling on his own, still working out the finer points of erecting his new camper trailer.

Next morning there was still some wind and it strengthened throughout the day, coming from the north. Such a strong headwind made for less than ideal driving conditions but we could still admire the country, the salt lakes and hazy colours. Before we left the Woomera caravan park we got talking to another couple who had a pop-top slide-on camper on a trayback Toyota truck. We are starting to wonder whether a bit more comfort might be good as we get older, so we are looking around to see what options are available. Our new friends kindly showed us inside their rig and we admired the shower and toilet and the surprising amount of room, though having to climb a ladder to get in and out of bed seemed a disadvantage. We are very mindful that, though our present Troopy rig is pretty spartan, for flexibility and go-anywhere ability it is hard to beat.

The next night in the Coober Pedy caravan park we saw the other end of the mobile accommodation range. This was a huge L/H drive American motorhome owned by a couple from Perth who had imported it a few years ago. Inside it seemed as big as a small house. We felt better though when they assured us that they only drove it on sealed roads – not our style at all!

Caravan parks often require a bit of patience and persistence in order to get a decent shower. The Coober Pedy CP requires 20cents in the slot for a shower. Val’s shower did not turn off and there was plentiful hot water for a really good shower; John however had to change cubicles to get a shower that worked at all. Still in such a dry area we certainly don’t begrudge the owners using such a system.

The next day was quite warm, almost T-shirt weather by the afternoon. The wind had swung around to the SW so thankfully no headwind and easier driving. There was more scenery – hills and bigger trees to add interest to the trip, and there were fewer trucks to contend with. Just north of Coober Pedy we were waved over for a drug/drink test unit, but then waved on without testing – they only seemed to be interested in younger drivers. Grey hair – or lack of hair – does have its occasional compensations!

After lunch we checked the suitability of a couple of rest areas for an overnight stopping place, but all were rather open to the wind and passing traffic. Finally we found a good spot somewhere near Holy Water Well – a short track took us well back from the road behind a thick screen of mulga. There were signs that it was used by other campers but it was clean and out of sight from the road. What more could we want?

With a bit of daylight left John took the opportunity to adjust Troopy’s rear door hinges that were sagging and letting in a bit of dust. That done we made a small campfire, and in this unaccustomed warmish night sat watching the stars until it was time to turn in.

A cool morning quickly became a hot day so that, by the time we reached Erldunda, we were looking for a shady spot in which to park. After refuelling we spent a while planning how to use our time so that we would arrive at Yulara on the following afternoon, ready to start on the Great Central Road on the date nominated by our permit. We decided to find a pleasant bush camp and have a leisurely few hours out of the vehicle. After checking out a few potential campsites we found what we were looking for on a sidetrack well back from the intersection of the Lasseter Highway and Luritja Drive, and well out of sight. It had had only very occasional use. There was an old almost disused road, perfect for a good walk and some exploring along cattle pads. We found lots of horse tracks, and a few camel prints. There was plenty of firewood, allowing us to have a cheerful fire and BBQ for dinner.

We were glad of a fire the next morning, which was surprisingly cool. John, who likes to get up in time to see the sunrise saw 3 dingoes close to our camp. We took our time packing up and drove out on some back tracks as we were in no hurry. Along the way we saw a couple of mobs of horses and one very old steer.

Back on the bitumen we stopped at the Mt. Connor lookout for some photos. As we were about to leave we noticed a group of young men trying without success to start their van. They were young Frenchmen, just out of school at a guess, travelling around the country. Their old van had already done one circumnavigation when they bought it in Sydney. Through one of their group who had enough English to act as interpreter, we offered to help, and towed them until their vehicle spluttered into life, whereupon, with many smiles and thanks they all piled inside and set off for Kings Canyon. We hoped they would make it OK.

We travelled a bit further on until a big desert oak offered enough shade for a lunch stop. After that we made a couple more photo stops as Uluru and Kata Tjuta came into view, offering those misty blue colours that are so attractive against the red sand and muted greens of the desert.

By mid afternoon we had arrived at Yulara. It was hot so we spent a while driving around looking at the resort. We stocked up on groceries, refuelled and filled up the two jerry cans, checked emails and still had plenty of time to get back to the caravan park in time to set up and do some washing. Getting clothes dry in that hot dry air was no problem at all. We had a bit of a look around the big Yulara caravan park – calling it a “resort” stretches the imagination a bit. The unpowered sites are small and bare and the facilities are no better than average. And just about everyone that we spoke to was heading east, having just come out to see The Rock.

But we are only here for one night. Tomorrow, once we get beyond Kata Tjuta we will be in new country. Let the adventure begin.
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein
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