Where else can you discover a beautifully
rugged and colourful landscape in a
timeless land of history and wonder?
32 kilometres from Roxby Downs
This mining desert town began its life in 1930 when two boundary riders discovered opal on Andamooka Station and is the only town in Australia where the main thoroughfare is built in a creek bed. Discover Andamooka’s unique ‘matrix opal’ or the rare beauty of the famous local crystal opal. In 1968, the partial skeleton of a six metre long plesiosaur was discovered and is now on show at the South Australian Museum in Adelaide.
Try your luck at noodling for opals at the campground next to the playground. Visit the Heritage-listed Andamooka Heritage Cottages precinct on the main street or Duke’s Bottlehouse which was built in 1972 by Bela Sido with Rudi and Inge Duke. The new Opal Museum is now open.
Dazzlingly white under a blue sky, the usually dry Lake Torrens – a 5700 square kilometre salt lake – is accessible by 4WD. Do not drive on the surface, it might look firm but it’s not! The Andamooka Yacht Club Café, an oasis in the desert, offers quality meals and delicious coffee in a relaxed atmosphere.
305 kilometres from Mungerannie
Birdsville lies on the edge of the Simpson Desert and is known over the world for its pub and annual races in September.
In the first week of September, Birdsville’s population swells from around 100 to more than 5000 for the Birdsville Races. This legendary race now boasts prize money of more than AUD$140,000. Gate earnings from the races go to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
One of the Outback’s most famous pubs, the Birdsville Hotel and Pub, attracts people from all over the world. The pub offers accommodation, food, drinks, and everything you need for an authentic Outback pub experience.
The giant Big Red sand dune rises 30 metres above the desert floor and is located 35 kilometres west of Birdsville. Advanced 4WD experience is necessary. The ‘Big Red Bash’ music festival is held in July each year with big name Australian acts and attracts thousands of people each year.
150 kilometres from Coober Pedy
Cadney Homestead, on the Stuart Highway, is a great starting point for drives to the Painted Desert or Oodnadatta. The Cadney Roadhouse has hotel rooms, a powered caravan park, camping sites and a swimming pool.
254 kilometres from Glendambo
Coober Pedy celebrated its centenary in 2015 and half the residents of this opal-mining town live underground to escape hot temperatures in summer and stay cosy during winter. Only in Coober Pedy will you find underground churches and art galleries, plus a golf course without a blade of grass. With its frontier feel and strange lunar-like landscape, Coober Pedy has featured in many films. A range of above and underground accommodation is available.
Try your hand at noodling for opals. A safe area in town is available to search for pieces of opal in mounds of dirt. Serious opal hunters need a permit from the local Department of Primary Industries and Regions’ South Australian office. For more information, visit the Visitor Information Centre. To see natural seams of opals and fossils, visit the award-winning tourist attractions: Old Timer’s Mine and Museum, Tom’s Working Mine and the Umoona Opal Mine & Museum. The Big Winch Visitor & Cultural Centre will open in early 2018 and will be an exciting new attraction for the town.
Golf enthusiasts will enjoy Coober Pedy Opal Fields Golf Course, the only golf club in the world with reciprocal playing rights with St Andrews (the home of golf) in Scotland. Green fees and equipment can be hired at the Old Timer’s Mine.
Coober Pedy is home to underground churches, with St Peter and Paul’s Catholic Church the first. The Serbian Orthodox Church has rock carvings in the walls, while the Catacomb Church is cut out of the sandstone and in the shape of a cross.
Nearby attractions include Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park, with spectacular flattopped, colourful mounds that have risen from the desert floor. A great photo opportunity at sunset, just a 30 minute drive (34 kilometres north) from town.
Moon Plain is a vast expanse of rocky plain 16 kilometres north of Coober Pedy and rich in fossil deposits. It is also protected, so stay on the marked roads.
Take a day trip to the Painted Desert, located in the Arckaringa Hills, 200 kilometres north of Coober Pedy. Formed more than 80 million years ago it’s known for its geological formations. It is accessible by 2WD but a 4WD is strongly recommended.
114 kilometres from Pimba
Glendambo is the only service centre between Pimba and Coober Pedy, and offers two roadhouses, as well as the Glendambo Hotel/Motel. It also has direct access to Eyre Peninsula via Wirrulla Road (unsealed) through the beautiful Gawler Ranges.
464 kilometres from Lyndhurst
Innamincka is a small town at the end of the Strzelecki Track, 40 kilometres from the Queensland border. It boasts a refurbished hotel (complete with an air-conditioned beer garden called ‘Outamincka’), laundry and shower amenities, a trading post, three airstrips and the Australian Inland Mission building established in 1928 by Reverend John Flynn.
Dine ‘Outamincka’ style at the Innamincka Hotel and experience an authentic Outback pub. Mobile and Wi-Fi facilities are available. The Hotel also offers well-appointed hotel rooms and bunkhouse style accommodation.
The Innamincka Regional Reserve surrounds the town and is an oasis of waterholes lined with ancient coolabahs and river gums. Camping permits are available from the Innamincka Trading Post. Visit the gravesites of Outback explorers Burke, Wills and King.
The famous Dig Tree lies just over the Queensland border and can be reached by crossing Cooper Creek via the Burke and Wills Bridge. It marks the spot where provisions for the famous explorers Burke and Wills were hidden underground by their travelling companions who headed home just eight hours before the duo arrived.
Fishing in Cooper Creek within Malkumba– Coongie Lakes National Park is prohibited. It’s important that you fish only in permitted areas. Take a guided boat tour of the Cooper River, bookings can be made via the Innamincka Hotel.
Ancient Aboriginal rock carvings can be found at the eastern end of this popular fishing and picnic spot, Cullyamurra Waterhole – listed under the Ramsar Wetlands Convention as desert wetlands of international importance.
Malkumba-Coongie Lakes National Park is a must-visit. See birdlife and beautiful sunrises and sunsets on the still waters of these superb lakes. Restrictions apply, visit the Innamincka Regional Reserve headquarters and Visitor Information Outlet located in the Australian Inland Mission building, before you head out.
KATI THANDA-LAKE EYRE
Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre National Park is 60 kilometres east of William Creek and can be accessed from the Oodnadatta Track by 4WD via Halligan Bay or Level Post Bay public access routes. You must purchase a Desert Parks Pass permit.
Technically the largest lake in Australia, Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre spans an area 144 kilometres long and 77 kilometres wide. It rarely fills with water and its salt-encrusted surface shimmers a spectacular white under a clear, Outback sky. One of the best ways to appreciate Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre is from the air which when it is dry, provides expansive, breathtaking views of the inland waterways.
Camping is permitted at Halligan Point Campground only (no facilities), while outside the park, Muloorina Station (via Marree) has campgrounds with toilets and some facilities.
Visit www.environment.sa.gov.au for more information.
Travelling from Adelaide, you’ll find Kingoonya 43km from Stuart Hwy at Glendambo. Coming from Coober Pedy? Turn onto Gosses Rd to save about 100km. On the way from Ceduna to Kingoonya, you’ll travel the road via Wirrulla, passing through some beautiful country and the Gawler Ranges. Or, when you’re finished doing Googs Track – a fantastic 4wd adventure – turn right to find us.
The town boasts a hotel and caravan park, along with full Telstra coverage and WIFI. The railway line – ideal for trainspotters – passes through town before it diverges to head north and toward Western Australia.
83 kilometres from Cadney Homestead
Marla is 160 kilometres south of the Northern Territory border and has a roadhouse, 24-hour fuel, accommodation, camping, a hotel, general store and restaurant. Attractions include Iwantja Arts, a working Aboriginal art and craft centre at Indulkana in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands. A short drive west, Mintabie is known for its lake, beautiful sunsets, desert flowers after good rain and opals. The opal fields are on Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land (Aboriginal Land). For a permit call the APY Lands Permit Office on (08) 8954 8104.
80 kilometres from Lyndhurst
Marree is the gateway to the Kati Thanda– Lake Eyre Basin and is at the junction of the Birdsville and Oodnadatta tracks. From Marree, continue on the Birdsville Track or the Oodnadatta Track to Coober Pedy.
Once a thriving centre for transport and communications, relics of a bygone era remain. Aboriginal people, Afghan cameleers and Europeans lived in relative harmony as the fortunes of the town ebbed and flowed over time.
Facilities include two caravan parks offering a variety of accommodation, including luxury rooms and cabins. They also provide a general store, fuel and post office. The Marree Hotel, built in 1883, offers friendly outback hospitality and the Roadhouse and Oasis Café/Bistro is open daily 7:30am–late.
The Arabunna people celebrate their heritage at the Arabunna Aboriginal Community Centre. Inside are authentic artefacts, fossils and other displays.
Visit the Marree Mosque, a reminder of ‘Ghantown’, which was once home to 60 cameleers, their families and 1500 camels.
The new railway museum is well worth a look, see the old mail truck used by renowned Outback mailman Tom Kruse at the Museum Park. The Marree Hotel now hosts the ‘Tom Kruse Collection’, a tribute to the legendary Birdsville mailman.
Follow the stunning 120 kilometre self-drive 4WD route of The Witchelina Loop. You will need to allow a full-day, be experienced and have a well prepared 4WD.
Take a breathtaking scenic flight of Kati Thanda– Lake Eyre and the famous “Marree Man”, around one and a half hours in duration, and bookings can be made at the Marree Hotel or Oasis Café/ Bistro.
About 60 kilometres out of Marree, are remnants of the 4.2 kilometre long image of an Aboriginal man, known as the Maree Man, which has been ploughed into the Outback on top of a plateau on the edge of Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre.
215 kilometres from Marree
The renovated Mungerannie Pub is located in the middle of the Mungerannie cattle station and serves great food and cold beer. You can also soak in the artesian hot waters of the specially-made bush pool outside Mungerannie Pub. Mungerannie also has fuel, amenities and is the third official camp spot along the route.
For the birdwatchers, about 140 species of waterbirds and rangeland birds seeking to escape the heat of the surrounding Gibber Plains drop by in summer. Keep an eye out for graceful Brolgas, which are regular visitors.
58 kilometres from Yunta
Like most towns dotted along the Barrier Highway, Oodla Wirra has a roadhouse and friendly pub. This small outpost has a fruit fly checkpoint, so please cooperate to ensure fruit flies don’t enter South Australia.
201 kilometres from William Creek
A historic centre, with a large Aboriginal population, Oodnadatta has retained much of its pioneering character.
Amenities include the Oodnadatta Hotel which reopened in 2017.
You will need to be prepared before you head off on your journey. Check your tyre pressure and get up-to-date road information by calling the Road Conditions Hotline on 1300 361 033. During office hours, you can call the roadhouse from up to 100 kilometres away on UHF duplex channels 1, 4, 6, 7 and 8. On the Oodnadatta Track, large official satellite-controlled signs advise of any travel restrictions from rain at each town.
Oodnadatta has all the basic amenities, including hotel accommodation, swimming pools and Wi-Fi, with public internet access at the local school.
The outlandish and fun Pink Roadhouse is a meeting place for travellers and locals. It is a licensed restaurant, Visitor Information Outlet, service station, caravan and cabin park.
Learn how the town once worked as well as Aboriginal culture and bush foods at the Rail Station Museum. Pick up an access key from the Pink Roadhouse or Oodnadatta Transcontinental Hotel.
On the town common, there’s a 20 minute, free amateur driving loop called the ‘6×4’, designed to teach the value of low tyre pressures in extreme environments and provide practice for those considering crossing the Simpson Desert.
The Simpson Desert is the largest parallel dune system in the world covering 170,000 square kilometres and crossing the corners of three states. Access is via the Warburton Crossing turn-off. Only well prepared 4WD vehicles with UHF radios should take this journey. A Desert Parks Pass is required, with the desert closed in summer. For more information, phone 1800 816 078.
& OLYMPIC DAM
79 kilometres from Woomera
In spring, look out for the bright red Sturt’s Desert Pea – South Australia’s floral emblem. The local art gallery exhibits regional, local and visiting artists. Open Monday–Friday 8:30am– 5pm and weekends 9am–1pm. Arid Recovery in conjunction with BHP Billiton, offer a 3 hour guided bus tour that begins with a virtual underground mine tour and introduction to Olympic Dam and Roxby Downs beforetaking you to view the surface operations of the Olympic Dam mine and get a taste of the Arid Recovery Reserve. Bookings are essential with a minimum 10 people needed for the tour to run. Arid Recovery also offers an opportunity to get up close to rare and endangered native species in a naturally wild arid zone environment. The Arid Zone Discovery Tour includes a short interpretive walk, see the stunning glow of an Outback sunset and spotlight nocturnal wildlife. Available April–October. Contact the Roxby Downs Visitor Information Centre for more information on both tours, bookings essential.
Visit the Roxby Downs Cultural and Leisure Precinct, home to the Visitor Information Centre, movie cinema, library, art gallery, Dunes Café, modern gym and outdoor and indoor pool. From Roxby Downs and Olympic Dam, travel on Borefield Road to connect with the ‘Oodnadatta Track’ itinerary, or visit Andamooka then return to the ‘Explorer’s Way’ itinerary.
210 kilometres from Marree
William Creek is a tiny Outback town, found on the world’s largest cattle station. The 32,500 square kilometre Anna Creek Station is Australia’s largest pastoral property. Located at the halfway point between Oodnadatta and Marree, the entire town is owned by Trevor Wright from Wrightsair, and has its own power supply, as well as cabins and a caravan park.
Built in 1887, the William Creek Hotel, is like a giant visitor’s book. Over the years it has been adorned with business cards and handscrawled notes. At the William Creek Progress Association, view the outdoor museum with a small collection of rocket memorabilia from the Woomera Rocket Range or take a walk along the Old Ghan Railway line to the Bridge at Breakfast Time Creek.
William Creek boasts a bitumen runway, which provides a smooth passage for scenic flights over Kati Thanda–Lake Eyre and the Painted Hills and Dalhousie Springs during all seasons. Take to the skies to see the Painted Hills, a marvel of nature, with colourful, conical formations rising out of the desert floor.
The Painted Hills are only accessible by air with flights available from Coober Pedy and William Creek.
Eight kilometres from Pimba
The Woomera Prohibited Area is the largest land-based missile and rocket range in the western world. Initially a joint project between Britain and Australia, the site continues to host space activities for Australian and international defence and aerospace organisations.
In the 1960s, NASA operated a deep space tracking station 25 kilometres south of Woomera at Island Lagoon. Facilities include a convenience store, Visitor Information Centre, café and public toilets, plus a bowling alley.
Free exhibits and public toilets are available at the Woomera Missile Park, which commemorates Woomera’s fascinating history.
Len Beadell surveyed the area and mapped out the firing range in 1947. Visit his final resting place at the Woomera Cemetery. You can also walk through Woomera’s history at the Woomera Heritage Centre. For rocket and social history, visit the Rocket Range Museum and grab a bite to eat at the Outback Diner.
You’ll feel like you can reach out and touch the stars at the Woomera Observatory. Open Friday evenings, half an hour after sunset (subject to weather). Bookings essential.