Our first night back in South Australia was an overnight stop at Marla Travellers Rest, a good old reliable spot to camp with fuel, food, power and amenities all together. It’s far enough off the highway not to hear too much road noise and spaces fill up the later it gets in the day.
The next day brought a beautiful sunrise and the wide open plains as we drove south were breathtaking. Makes you appreciate what a huge brown land we live in under massive skies. Even the relative barrenness of this landscape is beautiful at the right time of day.
As we got closer to Coober Pedy the signs started appearing to “Keep Out” and “Be Aware” of mining leases and the unmistakable piles of dirt of opal mine diggings started appearing.
The Ghan railway line, the main south to north line, started appearing closer to the highway and it was even on this stretch of road we saw our first and only camel of the trip. Happily standing next to the roadside munching on a low tree and watching us go by.
We pulled over at one of the roadside stops to have lunch and could hear hundreds of zebra finches about, you can usually hear their cheery beeping before you see them but at this stop they were all congregating on, and near some drinking water.
The first few roadside stops in the far north of SA are very remote and unfortunately not too inviting to stop at, they are probably too far from anywhere to get regular maintenance but they do let us down a bit when you’ve seen how well other places cater for travellers. Some more toilets, shade and bigger pull off areas would be good.
Still passing road signs warning of wandering stock but I like that we know which station they belong to, makes you interested in finding out more about these isolated places and the lifestyles lived out here.
We stopped the night at a free camp spot on the side of the Stuart Highway at a place called Lake Hart. This is our fifth time of travelling the Stuart Highway and for some reason we don’t remember seeing this spot before but what a find! We pulled in and one look at the view had us convinced to set up for the night.
Once we were settled we went for a short walk from the camp area down to the salt lake over, or under, the railway line. It would be dazzling white on a bright sunny day but it was still an amazing sight with dark skies about.
This is another very basic free camp area though with an undercover picnic table, some signage and that’s about it. We did meet more interesting people though including the guy on a Harley motorbike who was going to set up under the shelter area for an overnight rest. He was from Phillip Island in Victoria and had travelled over to WA all the way up the coast, over to Katherine NT and was now heading down the middle and home. Snap, we thought, how long have you been on the road? Three weeks. What….three months hasn’t been long enough for us.
And the other traveller stopping for the night was Andre who was one of those crazy people doing the trek by foot, but all for a good cause. He is in fact an ex-serviceman of the Royal Australian Navy and is running from Melbourne to Darwin, raising money and awareness for Beyond Blue. He is still out there now, somewhere along the Stuart Highway and with Anzac Day looming this would be a great cause to contribute to. https://give.everydayhero.com/au/melbourne-to-darwin-running-for-beyondblue-3700kms
He runs about 40 kilometres a day and you can follow his challenge on facebook and Instagram too, @followthesunoz.
The next morning we were up early for another stunning desert sunrise at 6am and then at 6.30 we could hear a train coming, at first we thought we may be lucky enough to see the Ghan but it was a freight train. If that wasn’t enough to wake up other overnight campers in this spot then the Harley starting up at 7am did it! Goodbye and good luck to everyone on their daily travels and journeys through life.
We packed up and moved on deciding to find another picturesque spot for breakfast and found one in another roadside stop overlooking another salt lake at Island Lagoon lookout. It is amazing the views all around you if you stop and take the time to really see.
On we trekked to find our last night’s destination which we made the caravan park at Crystal Brook. A good comfortable stop for our final night on the road. It was here that we first started getting rain that had looked threatening all day in our travels but at least it was still warm and the kookaburras around here were loving it.
The looming dark clouds made for great pictures on the way towards home especially as the sun popped out to light up patches of ground.
And as we headed for the hills of home we were met with more heavy rain and fog! Ah home sweet home.
Just one of the stats so far……we travelled around 17,000 kilometres since leaving 3 months ago.