Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Coober Pedy to Port Augusta

October 31

Further than we like to travel in a day - 537 km - but there isn't anything between these two points, except a few roadside pull-offs with a picnic table and a water tank. Part of the reason for this is that the road runs through the Woomera Prohibited Area, a vast tract of desert once used for joint Australia/USA bomb and missile tests.(woomera is an aboriginal word meaning throwing stick.
Today, the town of Woomera, slightly off our route, is a detention centre for illegal immigrants to Australia, mainly hapless Afghanis and Tamils who have been plucked from leaky boats off the northwest tip of the continent. Should they attempt an escape from detention, we can personally confirm that they would have to cross miles of trackless, arid wasteland before reaching any vestige of civilization.

Apart from the point where the road crossed the Trans-Australia Railway,

and some dramatic drifts of purple flowers on the red earth,

there was little to record en route until we reached some of the amazing salt lakes.

Lake Gairdner has been the site of several attempts on the world land speed record.

We were glad to reach Port Augusta, a major industrial town on the northerly end of Spencer Gulf.
The caravan park advertised a view of the Flinders Ranges across the water. Technically true, but they failed to mention their own chain-link, barbed-wire fence and the railway yards between us and said view. Actually, the railcars were quite colourful, and if you poked the camera through the chain-link, the view wasn't half bad.

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