Waking up in Oodnadatta was a good feeling, it was the furthest we had reached from home so far, and an adventure it had been with the conditions of the Oodnadatta track being far from good. However it was time to make a decision: do we continue through to Marla and finish the entire Oodnadatta Track, or do we head south towards Coober Pedy? After reflecting upon the drive from the previous 2 days, we decided it best to head south via the Painted Desert.
So after packing up we had a quick breakfast before hitting the dirt for another day of driving. A couple of hours down the road we arrive in the Painted Desert, and what a sight it was! The colours and formations in the sand were amazing, and definitely made the rough detour off the main track worth while. After taking in the sights and a few images captured, we travelled past the Arckaringa Homestead, then decided 5 minutes up the road to pull over for lunch. This was a stop that will be remebered for a while, as it was time for lunch and time for a quick wash. Why is it that in a country so vast that you don't see another vehicle for hours, but as soon as you decide to bath the kids on the roadside, several vehicles drive past! Oh well, everyone needs a wash once in a while in the dusty conditions.
Coober Pedy was the next destination with only a few quick stops on the way for photos. It was nice to pull back into a large caravan park with clean and large amenities - it had been a while. It was here that we had an awesome dinner of pizza from the on-site pizzeria. And they were delicious! If you are ever out this way and stay at the Big4 Outback Resort in Coober Pedy, be sure to have a pizza or 3 from Nostimo Pizza!
The following day we spent having a look around the area, starting with a couple opal jewlers. These things are worth some serious coin! Maybe we will try out luck in the public noodling area, never know our luck! We then headed to Crocodile Harry's Underground Nest, an actual dugout that was lived in by Crocodile Harry himself. Even though it is no longer lived in, it is now a tourist attraction, and is a good way of seeing an "underground home".
After a quick bite for lunch, we drove out to The Breakaways, another amazing colourful sand formation just outside of town. The great part of this is there is a track that runs right through and around the formations, giving an insight in to just how bit they are!
But after seeing the opals in the stores ealier in the day, it was time for us to give it a go for ourselves, so off the the public noodling area we went. 5 minutes into looking, our daughter was telling us about a shiny rock she found. Thats good, we found lots of shiny rocks! After another half hour of no luck, we had a look at her "shiny rock" to see nothing less than an actual opal! Lucky girl! It renewed our motivation to look for another half hour or so before it was decided that luck was not on our side, so headed back to camp for another well deserved rest.
The following morning after packing up and leaving camp, we hit the asphalt for the first time in many days and headed towards home for the first time in the trip. We spent the first hour pulling over many times trying to capture an image of a wedge-tail eagle, many of which we saw, and many of which flew away before the camera could even get out. We did however get one in a photo, after pulling over and walking a few hundred metres back up the road. But back on the road for a long boring drive along the Stuart Highway, with Woomera as the destination for the night.
Since it was considerably dry, it was expected that all tracks be open, but its always good to check local conditions before hitting the tracks.
The colours and formations in the Painted Desert were simply amazing.
In the middle of nowhere... It really puts into perspective how large this country is.
Its a different world in Coober Pedy where people live underground. This was taken inside Crocodile Harry's underground nest, and even though is no longer lived in, it is a tourist attraction allowing the public to have a walk through and look around for a small fee. Definitely worth it!
This was taken from an actual mine in the side of the hill. We could traverse far enough in that there was no ambient light at all. Bit of an experience for the kids, especially when we saw 3 bats huddled together hanging from the roof.
The infamous Coober Pedy sights of mining mounds. The litter the landscape for many many kilometers.
We came across many wedge-tailed eagles in the area, but this was the closest we could get to one for a photo. Moments later he took off, like all the others we saw.
After leaving Coober Pedy, we pulled into the Woomera caravan park, and after setting up for the night witnessed yet another outback sunset. Have I mentioned how much I love these!
Before leaving Woomera the following morning, we had a look around the town at the aircraft and rocket relics. The kids loved it!
After the sun set and the kids were in bed, I headed out to the local observatory run by volunteers to have a look at the clear night sky through the telescope. It is usually only open on Friday nights, but thankfully the volunteer was nice enough to open it up on the Saturday night when we were there.