Saturday the 13th Sept proved the weather report being correct in forecasting a high temperature above forty degrees.
This was the second day of our visit to Coober Pedy, one of the aims of the outback trip was initially to include a visit to the isolated Aboriginal settlement of Oodnadatta.
Oodnadatta, in the Australian state of South Australia, is a small town surrounded by an area of 7,800 square kilometres (3,000 sq mi) with cattle stations in arid pastoral rangelands close to the Simpson Desert, 1,011 km (628 mi) north of Adelaide and 112 m above sea level. It can be reached by an unsealed road from Coober Pedy or via the unsealed Oodnadatta Track.
The Pink Roadhouse (so-called because it is painted bright pink) is a focal point for the town, providing petrol, a general store, meals, post office facilities and canoe hire. Although they really do have canoes (also painted bright pink), it is not clear where to use them in the surrounding area unless the local waterholes are recently filled.
Oodnadatta is serviced twice weekly by the Coober Pedy Oodnadatta One Day Mail Run. The OKA mail truck also carries some general freight and passengers. Road trains bring weekly supplies of food and fuel etc. from Adelaide. Royal Flying Doctor Service and charter flights use the Oodnadatta Progress Associations’ local all weather WW2 airstrip which houses an automatic weather station.
There is a museum in the old Ghan railway station, and a staffed medical centre. The railway station comprises a large and imposing Victorian-era home built for the station master’s family, with verandahs on three sides, very high ceilings for coolness, and a cellar. Abutting the station-masters residence is the railway station office itself. The whole precinct has been kept in very good condition since the line closed.
I had travelled the road from Coober Pedy to Oodnadatta and back in 1997, a distance over a very rough dirt road of 193.9 kilometres taking a few minutes short of 4 hours.
The length of time to travel over that normally short distance gives some idea of the roads condition. It has been known to be impassable during the Wet season, you need a sturdy vehicle and extra tyres, water and foods, breaking down on this stretch of road is not a good idea, you are fortunate if you see a car or two when driving. I have found a GPS is a valuable asset in the outback.
I curtailed the plan to visit Oodnadatta, as I recalled the harshness of the road and the very sparse accommodation that would be available at the end. Opting for the home comforts we decided not to take the trip, it would have been great for me as I love the roughness and the harshness of the rugged outback, but deferred in favour of comfort this time. However I wanted to show Ana a glimpse of the Moon Plains, which is the name of plains leading to Oodnadatta.
The Moon plains are a vast expanse of rocky plains that are quite unusual to anywhere else. The lunar like landscape is so unusual it has been used as the background and set for many movies including Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Pitch Black and The Red Planet.
One of the interesting things about this landscape is that it is littered with beautiful pieces of clear gypsum crystals and gemstones. These are scattered throughout hundreds of pieces of petrified wood, where it is difficult to imagine a vast forest must once have stood.
I wanted to show Ana a part of the Moon plains, to give some idea of the landscape for the next 200 kilometres without travelling the whole distance, we took the Oodnadatta road out of Coober Pedy and drove about ten kilometres into the plains, you can see the horizon in every direction, not a blade of grass or a tree anywhere, it is aptly named.
After getting an idea of the road and what lay ahead, and the never ending scenery, we turned around and proceeded back to the comforts of the underground accommodation in Coober Pedy.
I checked out the Dash cam and found the relevant footage of that short trip, I have posted it here, again courtesy of You tube which I am getting the hang of, the video shows nothing apart from the road and surrounding countryside. This time I found You tube allows me to add music, which I have done, unfortunately the choice is limited so I hope you appreciate the choice I have selected.
Enjoy my Road to Oodnadatta story.