Goog's Track - North through the ghost towns to Coober Pedy SA

Thursday, Apr 13, 2006 at 00:00

Mick O

Thursday 13th April
Coober Pedy
South Australia

Well after yesterday’s trials and tribulations I slept well during the night. There were a few tentative spots of rain about 9.30 p.m. but they passed quickly enough. Despite being 25 odd kilometres south of the rail line, you could still here the deep rumbling of the Indian-Pacific as it headed west. The camp was visited by a lone hoofed visitor during the night, one of the many brumbies that roam the area. It availed itself of a drink from our washing up dish before moving on. I was out of bed early having listened to the fainter rumbling of the eastbound train around 5.45 a.m. It was however, not early enough to beat the flies. Amanda got cereal in bed as I knew the flies would be a never-ending source of angst to her. After a quick pack-up, I re checked and added air to all tyres. To get air to the trailer tyres the vehicle has to be jack-knifed first one side and then the other. Everything was blown back up into the mid thirties again.

The track north became very corrugated and we hit the dog fence 5 km on. Then it was a further 25 km along the fence till we hit the continental rail line approximately 38 km west of Tarcoola. Here we hit the main east-west road and turned east to Tarcoola. It was eerie to drive into the place as it is deserted but for a single house. Probably 40 houses and buildings stand deserted and locked up. Most of the rail houses have been stripped out of airconditioners, windows etc. The red corrugated iron pub stands locked and boarded over, trespassers warned. One of the few ghost towns we have now I suppose that are certainly remain in their entirety that is.

Only a few kilometres short of Kingoonya, disaster struck again with the back windscreen of the canopy bleep tering from a wayward ricochet. We were only travelling at 70-75 kph but it was enough. I’m ruing being lulled into a sense of false security while in the Flinders and Gammons. I got a little cut while cleaning the bleep tered glass from the back which managed to bleed a lot and thereby look worse than it actually was. Thankfully the Perspex I had cut makes a fantastic spare screen with judicious application of “hundred mile an hour” tape. Half hour by the way side and disaster number two was dealt with (all bar for the paying now!). So close to the Stuart Hwy too!

Kingoonya was a lesser ghost town but I had to see it as it was 25 years ago that I was last there and at that time it was on the main hwy north. Onto the Stuart and then north to Coober Pedy. Yes after umpteen visits I have finally weakened enough in my dislike of the place to book into the caravan park for, wait for it…a couple of nights. Right time to do so too as the fresh vegies and supplies had just arrived from down south.

We went to “Johns Pizza Café” the best place to eat if you ask the park owners. God help Coober Pedy. Did a roaring trader on the park owners recommendations alone. Wonder what the business connection is? Still a frontier town and it was funny lying in bed listening to the many goings on about the place. Screaming at one end, yelling and fighting elsewhere, the odd tyre squealing, the Yahoos coming back from “The Cave”. I think Coober Pedy means “Place of barking dogs” because they dominate the night let me tell you. The wind became extreme during the night prompting a "get up and secure everything" moment.
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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