Travels with the Winnie: Day 30

Sunday 18th June, 2017

Kernot Ranges Rest Area to Uluru

What a difference arriving here was to last night. It was difficult to work out exactly where to go to find our camping area, the signage just not clear enough. Then it was difficult to work out where our site was from the map, especially as we paid for a powered site and were given the map to the unpowered area. When we found the site it was sloping down, correctable if you have a caravan, but rather tricky for us. So, we found a flat site and rang the reception to request it. Oddly enough, we are next door to a Starcraft van which is almost exactly the same as we had.

On the way, we stopped off to photograph Mt Connor, famous for being mistaken for Uluru by tourists, including me the first time we came here.

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Mt Connor


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The Olgas – a view from the road

We had lunch and a rest, but still found it difficult to work out what to do. Still, we got to the main shopping centre, went to the Visitor Centre, had a coffee/chai latte and did a little bit of shopping in the rather good IGA.

Then it was time to set off for the Rock to enjoy the sunset. We found the car parking/viewing area quite easily and settled in for the show.

Sunset at Uluru - better (1 of 1)
We were all waiting for this to happen, and it did, not long after sunset, the clouds lit up

I tested the internet (Telstra 4GX) during our rest time. According to Speedtest, we have download speeds of 150mbps, 50 more than at home on our fibre to the home NBN broadband. The technicians did say our home service is capable of much higher speeds than we’ve been able to access, but that is the speed that home NBN is allowed. Anyway, it will work for a Facetime session with Matt.





Travels with the Winnie: Day 29

Saturday 17th June, 2017

A Travel Day

SA/NT Border Rest Area to Kernot Range Rest Area

Earlier in the trip we thought that we wouldn’t go to Uluru. Too touristy, and off our route. But, as the turnoff came closer, we started to think again. At Erlunda Roadhouse we took a break, checked our emails, had coffee, and decided to go after all.

It’s 250 kms off the Stuart Highway, so adds 500 kms to our trip and 2 – 3 days, which will all seem worth it when we get home and wonder why on earth we wouldn’t go.

We stopped near a roadhouse on the way to have lunch and planned to go to a rest area with a view of Mt Connor, the famous flat topped hill that regularly gets mistaken for Uluru. But, at about 3.00 p.m. when we pulled into a rest area to change drivers we were very taken with this location. It has water (probably not safe to drink, but handy for washing) and clear sites in a grove of desert oaks. The sound of them is enticing.

There were two motorhomes already there, and after we arrived three caravans came quite quickly and settled in as well.

I put up a line and used the provided water to rinse out some shirts and bras. I rigged up a line between a couple of trees to hand out the shirts to drip dry and put the bras discretely in the shower cubicle.

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There is a sea of dry grasses waving in the breeze and views of the Mt Ebenezer range and what I think is Mt Connor in the distance from a nearby small hill.

It’s very peaceful, and the presence of other vans means we feel quite safe here.

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A view to the Ranges




Travels with the Winnie: Day 28

Friday 16th June, 2017

A Travel Day

Marla South Rest Area to SA/NT Border Rest Area

This has been our first warm day. We don’t know what the official temperature is because we are internet free at the moment, but possibly 26 or 27 degrees. The sun has set and it is still very pleasant, just cooling down a bit.

With warmth come flies. I find myself making the acquaintance of people as we wave, apparently at each other, but actually at the flies.

We had a very peaceful night last night. In the end there were about six different sets of campers, three caravans, one bus, one couple with a car and tent, and us. Three of the people had campfires.

We were only about 30 kms from the Marla Roadhouse, so after our very relaxing (no internet) cup of tea, we had our washes and set off for the Roadhouse. We filled up the Winnie and had our first gas bottle refill of the trip. We started with two full bottles, and considering all the free camping we have done, this seemed a very good outcome.

The fridge was smelly on the gas, which was a sign that we were getting low.

Then, we drove to a quiet spot and had breakfast. We had 3g internet, but it was very slow. I managed to connect with Della on WeChat, but could not upload my blog. I tried for some time, but then gave up. We caught up on a bit of the news and read our emails.

I had two lots of postcards to send to Mum and Matt, so sent both at once. I’ve got some extra stamps to make it easy for sending the next ones.

After a rather frustrating time with the slow internet we went to the dump point.

And then, on our way. We tend to stop at most rest areas, just to check them out. The nicest was at the Agnes Creek Rest Area, which reminded us of the Pilbara.

Agnes Creek Rest Area (1 of 1)

We had choices of what to do, but opted for another free camp site, and have ended up at the border rest area. It is sealed, so no red dust tonight, but we have close neighbours, including someone with a bad cough, so not sure if this is the right place for us. There is camping across the road, but the drive is deeply rutted and we didn’t think we had enough clearance.

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a view from the road

We are next door to another Winnebago Free Spirit, rather newer and shinier than ours. I took a photo of them together, covering up their number plate for privacy.

A tale of two Winnies (1 of 1)

Travels with the Winnie: Day 27

Thursday 15th June, 2017

A Travel Day

Cooberpedy to Marla South Rest Area

We completed our tasks at the Stuart Range Caravan Park (Big4), including filling up water containers and the tank. We did not have to pay at the filling station, for some reason the water flowed anyway. I also had this experience in the shower again.

Something to remember about Coober Pedy is that we could free camp and still have access to a water station and dump point near the Tourist Information Office. We would have to pay $1.00 for 40 litres, but that seems OK to us.

We got diesel and did some shopping at the local IGA before heading on our way at about 10.30 a.m. I went the wrong way at first, fortunately Stephen picked this up and we headed back up past our caravan park and on to the Stuart Highway.

We stopped for a cup of tea and fruit cake at about 11.30, then for lunch at about 1.00 p.m.

Marla South Rest Area is about 187kms from Coober Pedy, a fairly short distance, but a good idea when we have a few things to do before leaving town.


We arrived here at 3.30 p.m. There were already 3 caravans here, and one more has since arrived.

This is our spot on the edge of the graveled rest area. We chose it because it is flat. Everyone else here seems to gravitate to the edges as well.


We have had some varied scenery on the way here, at first lots of evidence of mining, then very flat and bleak, then some areas of shrubs and small trees, but where we are at the moment is typical – shrubs and red earth.

GeoWiki said we would have a phone signal here, but it is not the case. I am hoping that the next roadhouse, which is a major stop, will have a phone signal. According to GeoWiki it does, but the app is not always accurate.

We see quite a lot of towers that further south would have guaranteed a phone signal, but now appear to be for some other purpose. At the moment we don’t know what that is.



Travels with the Winnie: Day 26

Tour of Coober Pedy

The featured image was taken from the tour bus and shows a typical opal mining landscape of dumps.

Today we got up a bit later than usual and had a quiet morning at the caravan park. I got washing done and backed up our trip photos from one hard drive to another. At home, I back up everything to the cloud, but am relying on external hard drives during our travels as it would be much to expensive to upload everything as we go.

I handwashed yesterday’s clothes, hung them on the line, then when they stopped dripping, hung them in the shower recess. Stephen went for a walk, but just locally.

Our tour was most comprehensive. We explored a couple of the opal mining areas whilst our driver explained what everything meant. He spoke from experience of having been an opal miner himself. He now does guiding/driving, some shifts at the Caltex Station, and some community work. We were being shown around by someone who loves this town. He came here when he was quite young, and has lived here most of the time since. His wife lives in Adelaide, and even though they are discussing retirement, there is still the issue of him wanting to live here (he has an underground home) and her wanting to live in Adelaide.

We went out to a beautiful scarp called the Breakaways, which is the edge of the Stuart Ranges. He said that he and other people would go there for picnics and camping, but that is no longer allowed as it is a protected area.

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The Red Capped Wanderer with the Tour Bus
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View from the Scarp – The Breakaways
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Another view at The Breakaways – note the wavy lines of vegetation

He showed us around the town, community projects, and explained that all of the trees in the town had been planted by residents and were watered by the town’s waste water.  We saw the Dingo Fence, the Moon Plains, an underground home, and an underground mine and museum. At the end of the day we went to a beautiful Serbian church – also underground.

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Underground Serbian Church

The tour ran from 1.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m. and we felt quite fulfilled by the end – that if we missed anything, well it wasn’t because he hadn’t tried to show us everything. It was tiring and the cup of tea came rather late in the day (note to self, take a thermos of tea with me next time).

I have lots more photos from today, but maybe this is enough for now. I’m very tired and it is after 10.00 p.m.

Travels with the Winnie: Day 25

There has been high cloud today, making for a pre sunrise show of pink clouds.

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Tuesday morning

Today the landscape went from lots of bushes, some with yellow flowers, and small trees to a desert landscape, with sparse and dull vegetation. Very like northern WA.

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Stephen and landscape


Driving into Coober Pedy, we saw lots of evidence of digging holes in the ground, as you would expect.

There are quite a few signs warning about animals on the road since we started on the Stuart Highway. This one amuses me:

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self explanatory

We are in a Big4 caravan park here at Coober Pedy, chosen because they had room for us. It has good facilities, including a dump point and water point for filling tanks (20 cents per 40 litres, I think). We will be able to fill up our tank when we leave. There are no water hookups, but we can get drinking water from the laundry, and lots of people are availing themselves of this opportunity. Showers are 20 cents for 2 minutes.

Water is the most precious resource here, forget about opals. However, here at the caravan park all of the taps have drinkable water, unlike last night when taps only had rather smelly bore water.

We have free wifi and I am able to write this blog using their network. The photos take a little time, but actually upload.

We’ve done  a load of washing, dumped the toilet, and ordered a pizza for tea. We have also booked into a tour tomorrow afternoon. We have good TV reception here.

Our plan is to stay two nights, then free camp on our way to Alice Springs. We will have our tank (100 litres) and water bottles (total of about 30 litres), and it will depend on how well it lasts. It is more relaxing to be at free camp sites. I don’t think any of the free camp sites have internet access in that section, so we may have to spend a bit of time at roadhouse during the day to catch up on our emails and this blog.

Travels with the Winnie: Day 24

Ranges View Rest Area to Glendambo Caravan Park

The featured image is from the Ranges View Rest Area yesterday evening.


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Another view to the ranges from our rest area
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The Winnie. She likes to be noticed.

Today has been a day of surprises. No sooner do I get used to the idea of the landscape being flat and fairly uniform than it changes. We go through a range, or come across attractive lakes.

This morning was a surprise as well as there was mist.

Ranges Rest Area - morning colours (1 of 1)
Ranges View Rest Area
Ranges Rest Area - morning mist (1 of 1)
Ranges Rest Area - sunrise on plants better (1 of 1)
Golden Light

Today has been a day of surprises. No sooner do I get used to the idea of the landscape being flat and fairly uniform than it changes. We go through a range, or come across attractive lakes.

Woomera (1 of 1)
We had a pie at a roadhouse at Pimba, then drove to Woomera. Stephen looked at the Museum whilst I had a coffee
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A map of lakes in South Australia. We were at Lake Hart, which is tiny compared with Lake Eyre. Still, it looked big to us. There were lots of caravanners making this there stop for the night.
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Lake Hart. The sun was in the wrong direction for good photos.
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At Island Lagoon Lookout this morning
Island Lagoon lookout Stephen (1 of 1)
The Sign, the Island and the Red Capped Wanderer

And tonight we are at Glendambo Outback Resort Caravan Park, with electricity for the first time since Adelaide. Red dirt is the main feature here. Power is not the issue really, but our water tank is getting low, so we need water for showering/washes and doing dishes. It is bore water here, of course. There are rain water tanks, but we were told the boil the water before drinking. I’m not sure when we will be able to fill up our water tank again, but we can still free camp some of the time using water jugs and buying drinking water.

Travels with the Winnie: Day 23

The featured image is of the dawn at Horrocks Pass Rest Area. You won’t actually see it unless you click on the title of the post and go to it in a web page. It doesn’t show up in the email version.

We have camped tonight at the Ranges View Rest Area – so named because of the view, of course. We haven’t gone very far today, maybe about 100 kms.

We drove from Horrocks Pass to Port Augusta where we went to a dump point, fed the Winnie and checked the tyres. We also did a bit of shopping, getting bread, rolls and bananas. We started out on the Stuart Highway, then stopped at a lovely Botanic Gardens. After a bit of a walk around we had lunch, then drove to a lookout nearby. That was definitely worthwhile.

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Red Cliff Lookout
from Red Cliff Lookout towards Augusta

Stephen isn’t feeling very well, he has a headache and just not his usual self. That is party why we have chosen to camp early (by about 2.30 p.m.). The other is that the view is quite special, there is internet access, and I am also feeling a bit tired. We have a long way to go and it will all be interesting as we haven’t been this way before (or at least, not since I was a small child).

Ranges View Rest Area

We are approximately 1,300 kms from Alice Springs.


Travels with the Winnie: Day 22

I’m a day late with this blog. We didn’t have internet at our Rest Stop last night.

We got away from Adelaide in good time and were heading for a rest stop that is in Mt Remarkable National Park. I was following Geowiki, which conveniently forgot to mention that we needed a vehicle pass and camping permit to being in the national park. We couldn’t book online as all the camping spaces were filled. It is a long weekend!

Geowiki said there were rest stops on the road we could use, one on each side of the highway. However, there was a sign at our left hand rest stop which said we couldn’t camp there. We were feeling upset at this stage. Driving into the park was very attractive, with trees and views of the ranges getting closer and closer. I didn’t get photos of this, but have some video taken on the GoPro.

We didn’t want to drive into Port August late in the day, so opted for a caravan park on the way. It was somewhat off the main highway. As we got to the turnoff, there was a sign saying that there were no vacancies. There were a couple of caravan parks further on, but also a rest stop. We were on the Horrocks Pass road which we recognised from our trip a couple of years ago.

The rest stop had one other caravan/camper, at some distance from where we chose our spot. We were trying to find a completely flat spot, but ended up with a slope – hence putting chocks under the wheels. Not that there was any real danger, but it made us feel better.

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in the morning

We had a very peaceful night. There was a full moon, so it was almost like being in a camping area with a security light. Because it was so bright we didn’t get a good view of the stars.

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We were sort of enfolded by hills. This is the view one way
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And this the other
Gateway to Augusta – we remembered this rest stop from our trip two years ago