A very long drive

Trip Start Nov 08, 2009
Trip End Mar 09, 2010

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Where I stayed
Fraser Range Station
Eucula Caravan Park
Ceduna Foreshore Caravan Park

Flag of Australia  , South Australia,
Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dates: 6th - 12th February 2010

Heading to Central Australia was a bit of a whim decision. We knew it would be alot of driving and may shorten our trip, but we figured whats a trip of Australia without seeing Uluru? After deciding to go, it was then deciding which way to go. From Kalgoorlie there are two obvious ways to the Red Centre. The first is back the way we came, across the Nullarbor, then north up the Stuart Highway from Port Augusta, a journey of some 3100kms. The other shorter, bumpier option is taking the Great Central Road, part of the Outback way. It is a dirt highway that stretches from 1500kms from Laverton to Kata Tjuta. It can be corrugated, muddy, hot, wet, camel infested and pretty remote. The appeal is obvious. But after talking to a few people and regularly checking weather reports and road conditions we decided to take the long way round, vowing to come back and do the GCR another time better prepared and more experienced.

We stayed in the sames places going west as we did going west. At Fraser range we arrived early, it was hot and we were told we were sharing the place with 16 firefighters who were flown in and out by helicopter to a large bushfire in the Cape Le Grand National Park 70kms south. That was something we were thankful for because that night, just after sunset, we saw a huge cloud coming over, and once it reached us and darkened the sky, we realized it was smoke! After a few nervous minutes of "what should we do", I don't know" we joined another group at the reception who were checking in and asking about the smoke, not much information was available, but we decided that if the 16 firefighters were calmly enjoying there dinner we should be safe. We packed the car just in case. Later that night when we woke up the moon was glowing orange.

The next day we got up, the smoke was gone, but our tent reeked of smoke, which lingered for several days.

Similar to our trip east, we passed through a couple of spectacular storms as we approached Eucla, however this time it was clear enough to see all the way to the ocean, which we didn't even realise was that close last time due to the mist. The storms also continued into the night and we sat up and watched the lightning that was all around us. The next morning we drove down to the old telegraph station we missed last time. It is a ruin and the sand dunes have half covered it.

Ceduna was our third stop, last time we arrived early to an almost empty park and watched the other caravans, trailers and campers roll in. This time due to the time change working against us we were late getting in, and were lucky to get a spot as the park was near capacity. We were able to enjoy day light savings again however, and so we managed to fit in a beer at the pub before dinner. We had one heart stopping moment before dinner, when Wes plugged in our power cord, and at the same moment all the caravan air conditioners went off and men were slowly coming out to see if it was a black out. Luckily the power resumed within a couple of minutes, and we are fairly certain it had nothing to do with us.... really.

After Ceduna we headed to Port Augusta, and stayed 2 nights, so as to give us an opportunity to restock on food. The temperatures were high 30s and only just getting down to 30 overnight, which made sleeping somewhat difficult, but the caravan park had a pool, which is where we spent most of our time! This is also where we spent our 3rd wedding anniversary, maybe we could have planned it better, but we were satisfied with day by the pool, and each others company all the same.

After Port Augusta, heading north our car hit a signifigant milestone

Our next stop along the way was Coober Pedy which is a small town which sneaks up out of nowhere on the Stuart Highway heading north. The town is famous for its opal mines, and the underground hotels and dwellings. The appears to be quite ramshackle, with some places built into the sides of hills, and other places jammed in wherever. The Mines that surround the entire area are equally random, and gives the appearance the miners dig a hole, have no luck, and so take 10 steps the side, and dig another. It makes for an eerie unwelcoming landscape.

Coober Pedy was again hot, but some rain came, and it cooled down over night enough to get a decent sleep, which was lucky as we had  planned for the longest drive we have done in a day. It was over 700km to Yulara, which we decided to do in one day, given the lack of anything on the way but small roadhouses. (one which had a sign "Stop and eat or we'll both starve!")

We settled in to Yulara for a few days, glad to have the almost 3000km journey behind us, but frustrated that in just 1 week we are already more then half way to our next car service.

Things Broken: Fork
Lessons Learnt: -Smoke does not always mean fire( in the immediate vicinity)
                          -Forks dont work so good as screwdrivers
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