Thundering up the Stuart to Coober Pedy - Rockets, gibber plains and trivia nights

Friday, May 29, 2009 at 00:00


Friday 29th May, 2009
Coober Pedy SA

Having only a little over 500 km to travel today, we decided on a leisurely start to the day. Fred was out into the chilly Port Augusta air for a walk about 7.00 a.m. and after a quick pack up it was off to the local mobile servo for a bit of $9.00 bacon and egg action. Fuel was again a refreshing $1.15 a litre. Better than the $1.90 price of 12 months ago. By 8.30 we were on the highway and making the first big decision of the day, Perth (turn left) or Darwin (turn Right)! Naturally we veered right and started our northward drive along the Stuart. I love the saltbush rises and plateaus that overlook the many salt lakes and clay flats. Lake Island is a particular favourite. We stopped for a few photo opportunities along the way before Turning at Pimba and heading into Woomera.

In my many trips north along the Stuart, I’d never once ventured off into Woomera so it was high time I took a look. The town is very well maintained and there seems to be a lot of building work going on. Whether this is part of an expansion of the base facilities or just a bit of Kevin 07 stimulus largess, I don’t know but it remains neat, tidy and exceptionally well maintained. The Woomera missile park is well worth a visit. It remains an area of “man interest” and it was quite funny to see the number of women sitting in the campers or caravans having a chat while the men stroll through the varied machinery of war.

There were some sizeable leftovers from the missile programs conducted from the 50s till the current age. In fact testing on new hypersonic craft had concluded only last week. The museum was also quite intersting with some photos of Len Beadell taken during his original survey work of the site back in the 50’s.

We had morning tea at Spuds Roadhouse at Pimba but not before I managed to capture a large freight train going through the crossing near the roadhouse. I was aghast to find that the fireplace at the roadhouse had been removed and in its place was a small supermarket area stocked with grocery items and a large fridge cabinet. Progress is not always a good thing.

Thundering along the Stuart, I was surprised at how little road kill there was beside the road. Most times this area is littered with the carcasses of roos and the occasional sheep and cattle, the ubiquitous wedge tailed eagle usually perched regally atop the carcass proclaiming his majesty and scavenging rights. This year, only three eagles for the day. Perhaps an indication as to how dry things have become, who knows. We reached Coober Pedy just after 4:00 p.m. and after a quick drive around town, checked in to the salubrious Opal Inn. My second stay here having been charmed by the place in 2007 when travelling with the Smyth. A refreshing beverage in the room and then to the bar to meet up with my good friend Lynn. She arrived about 5:30 p.m. so we chatted amongst and were introduced to many of the locals eventually heading to the Italian Club for a fundraising trivia nite. Many a beverage was consumed and we had great night. Fish and chips, a load of laughs and a thoroughly deserved 2nd place...No prize of course.Home around 10-ish.

''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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