Thursday, July 25, 2019

Day 5 — Mon 19/8/2019


I have finally reached this fabled “town” Oodnadatta, and the halfway mark of my trip.  Tomorrow I start heading back south for 5 days.

Took a final spin around Coober Pedy after breakfast and then headed north on the Stuart Highway for 150km.  Lots of opal mines for the first 30 km and then just gibber plain and saltbush plateau.  Very regular rest areas along the way, which SA does very well compared to their rarity in Qld.  I reached the Cadney Homestead Roadhouse at 11 am and had a toasted sandwich for early lunch.  Then it was a right turn eastwards onto the gravel of the Painted Desert Road and 170 km to Oodnadatta.  At first some of the road signs were confusing, and it was just as well I was not relying on the car’s nav system .. I don’t know where it was trying to take me!  Just past the Ackaringa  Homestead one passes the Painted Hills.  These are a series of mesas that look as though a giant has passed by and splashed lashings of red, brown, yellow and white paint across their hills.  Probably look better in early morning or late afternoon light, but were certainly an unusual sight.  Not quite worth all the superlatives the PR people give them though!

Arrived at Oodnadatta at 2 pm and tried to book in at the wrong pub.  Sorted that out and am at the Pink Roadhouse Caravan Park in the quite cozy cabin with all mod cons except a decent Telstra connection.  Satellite TV is good, but no free wifi.  Oodnadatta has population of 180, nearly all Aborigines.  No local council, with all services provided by the local Aboriginal Cooperative.  The Main Street is a 200 metre stretch of bitumen, home to the Pink Roadhouse, Memorial Hall, outdoor movies and Transcontinental Hotel.  A short strip of rail still marks where the old Ghan railhead used to be, and the stone Railway Station has been preserved as a local history museum with rooms of very informative photos and text about local history, geography and personalities.  There is absolutely nothing else to see or do here, so I have been putting my kindle to good use and catching up on some reading.

Have had a Roadhouse dinner, not tempted to settle for a Oodnaburger or similar.  They rustled up a good meal of chops, chips and vegs with a XXXX Gold to go with it.

I was pleasantly surprised by the condition of the gravel road.  The Prado hums along at a steady 80 kph, riding smoothly enough over the corrugations.  At that speed one can enjoy the scenery whilst still keeping a watchful eye out for sharp stones, corrugations, pot holes and sand patches on the road.   In the morning I will get the mechanic here to lower the tire pressures for safer driving.  They have signs everywhere advising one to do so.

Freezing cold here tonight.  Today it made 17C along the way, but is down to 9C already heading for a low of 3C.  Thankfully the cabin is fitted with a good quality aircon that I have set on 26 !  I have discovered that Telstra 4G reception here is very dodgy.  My iPad works OK, but the phone has only one bar and won’t function.  Would be tough living here without reliable communications.  Still, a big improvement on the days when the camel trains met the Ghan here and took loads of goods on to Alice Springs and beyond.  I had a close encounter with a herd (?) of wild horses along a stretch of unfenced road this morning.  Quite a sight, a dozen or more of them galloping as if in the Coober Pedy Cup last weekend.

As usual I will finish this report with a link to today’s photos here

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