Fascinating Woomera and the road to Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy dog fence

Crossing New South Wales and South Australia border

Our plan was to stop for a night in Port Augusta and then go to Coober Pedy via Woomera. 

On the way to Port Augusta, we drove through the outskirts of Flinders Ranges – they looked very picturesque. We heard the ranges are perfect for hiking and 4WD driving so we made a mental note to come on a road trip to Flinders Ranges in the future. 

We had slight trouble at the state border as the quarantine is very restrictive. Unlike between Victoria and NSW where no one really makes any fuss. We were asked a few questions and had to surrender onions and potatoes…

I was given a small brochure about what can and can’t be taken to different states. Now, we would be able to check before crossing borders and eat “dangerous” goods, not dispose of them.

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Port Augusta

Port Augusta – first Aboriginal people and dry zone

Port Augusta is a nicely situated town located at two sites of the canal. We really had no time to do any sightseeing, because we were already booked at Coober Pedy and there was a long way ahead of us. We are still experiencing winter weather – 20 degrees during the day and 10 at night, and it will be colder when we get to Alice Springs. We definitely had to move faster up north… 

It was the first time in our trip we saw a lot of Aboriginal people in the city. Also, Port Augusta is already in the dry zone (alcohol is limited). The reason for it is there is a big problem with native people and alcohol consumption. When you buy alcohol you will be asked for a driving licence. This is to protect the community and make sure that you will not sell or give alcohol to anybody.

Glendambo white cockatoos parrots

Port Augusta – the gate to the Red Center

Port Augusta is when you have to decide to go via Nullarbor Highway to Perth or up north to Alice Springs and Darwin. As I mentioned before we chose to go up north directly and spend beautiful winter in Darwin and its surroundings. 

We spent the night at a caravan park where we did our first little clean-ups like cutting the hair and washing up. The next day, we went off Stuart Highway for a boring road to the next stop.

RAAF Base Woomera

We drove 10 km of the highway and stopped at Woomera for lunch. We were expecting a small town with a famous pub and instead we found Woomera to be a former military test range base where they tested surface-to-air missiles from 1947 and tracking of spacecraft in the early days of the Space Age. 

Actually, Woomera town was artificially created to cater for the operation. Nowadays, Woomera has only 136 population and it is used mainly as a training facility.

Woomera rocket
Woomera rocket

A must go was the Woomera National Aerospace and Missile Park, located in the centre of the village. During our visit, among many military artefacts, there was a rocket that launched the first Australian satellite into orbit. Places like this are awesome.

This time there were no people around. The place looked like a ghost town with no people present. It is a really strange feeling when you do sightseeing alone but we discovered it was only the first time as our journey continued and we were going to see more places like this.

Woomera Missile Park
Woomera Missile Park

We returned to the highway as we wanted to stay for a night in Glendambo. It was a fantastic place – a small roadhouse with two petrol distributors, a hotel and a caravan park in one. For the first time, we felt like city people thrown in the middle of nowhere. We couldn’t sleep, because we were so excited by the desert atmosphere and the silence of the night…  It was also the first caravan park on our way that was set completely on dirt. There was no grass whatsoever or any small vegetation, just big gum trees.

Dust was everywhere. Let’s start getting used to it. The night was quiet, and in the morning we drove to our first big attraction, Coober Pedy.

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4WD Equipment Checklist

GPS Navigator or compass

Maxtrax – if you get bogged, you can use it for additional traction

Tire Deflator – deflate tires quickly when going on dirt or 4WD

Air Compressor – inflate tires quickly after going back on bitumen (we use MM)

Tire Repair Kit – to fix the tire by yourself when you don’t have access to the tire shop (we use Oztrail)

UHF Radio – for communication with your mates and in emergency

Full Recovery Kit (with Dampener Blanket) – must-have if you are going on real off-road

High Lift Jack – useful if you do serious 4WD tracks

Shovel – useful if you get bogged, also good for campfire cooking

Fuel funnel with water filter – additional protection when fueling up in dodgy places

Additional fuel canisters

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