Alice Springs to Adelaide in a campervan!

Trip Start Aug 16, 2004
Trip End Aug 13, 2005

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Sunday, October 31, 2004

So after getting back from the outback safari, we had a day to recover and then we were off again. We managed to get a relocation deal from Apollo Campervans to drive down to Adelaide. Had 4 days and 1700km to do it in. The bonus was that they wanted a big 6 berth van relocated, so we had lots of space. We could have taken a few passengers and recovered diesel costs but fancied a bit of peace and quiet! It did cost more than we estimated in fuel because of the size of the van - a note to remember if hiring again in the future. The best way to get relocation deals is to ring up the companies within a couple of days of wanting to travel, and then it's pot luck whether you get a deal or not.

Anyway back to the trip...

There is basically one road from Alice Springs to Adelaide - the Stuart Highway. It's a long boring drive if you are on your own, but there are a few bizarre places to stop. One of these is Coober Pedy - an underground town. Most of the houses/shops there are underground to escape the blistering heat in the summer and the cold nights, as underground the temperature remains pretty stable. It's worth having a stop in Coober Pedy - if only to see it, it's unlike anywhere else we've seen. There is a very good museum there - the Old Timers Opal Mine. (Coober Pedy is a big opal mining community). The museum is good because it is actually a mine, it is self guided and photos are allowed, unlike many other mines I have been in. The story goes that the people who built the mine, hid its whereabouts, and were meant to come back and make a fortune mining opal. However, they never did, and the mine was only discovered when a guy who lived next to it was extending his underground house, and knocked through to the mine. So he opened it up as a museum and now he makes all the money from it!

Apart from the Old Timers Mine, there is also The Big Winch. There's nothing spectacular about this, but the Aussies have a tradition of building obscure things on a giant scale and naming them - The Big (insert object name here). Anyway, since learning this, we have decided to try and collect photos from as many of these places as possible. This is our first one.

Next stop from Coober Pedy was Woomera. This is a prohibited area where they test new bombs and rockets etc. The town was only opened up to the public about 10 years ago, and all the area around the town is still prohibited. The only thing we found worth seeing was the military park. A park with lots of rockets, missiles and bombs on display.

Our drive south continued with our next stop being Port Augusta and then Port Pirie. These are both small places, and we only really stopped to get food and supplies etc. However they do both have good information centres which have a list of things you could do if you have the time and/or inclination. We were both feeling lazy so we didn't do much apart from walk around the town centres.

Our last night was spent in the luxury of a caravan park in Warnertown, where for $14 we could plug our van into electricity and watch the tv. As it was Saturday there was 3 movies on, so we didn't do much else. The caravan park is clean and comfortable with a friendly dog! If you don't want or need electricity (only for the tv, toaster and A/C) then you can do what we did and park in a rest area. There are plenty of these along the Stuart Highway and they are well signposted. As long as you are more than 50kms from a town then this is allowed.

So we rolled into Adelaide around noon on the 4th day. It was a bit trickier driving the van in a city so just be a bit cautious when changing lanes and going under bridges etc. Remember to make sure you have enough height clearance. Thankfully we didn't need to learn this the hard way.

A worthwhile experience and unless you are in caravan parks all the time the only real expense on top of the hire charges is fuel. The vans have a fridge and a cooker, and all crockery, cutlery, sleeping things etc are included.
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