Category Archives: South Australia

This is part of the old Adelaide jail. Not exactly a major tourist attraction, but pretty cool nonetheless. I love exploring these old buildings full of history. I still can’t decide if I think this building looks pretty or not, but it seems that they tried, by putting in some arches. For more arches, check out Where’s my backpack.

Ok… so South Australia isn’t the greenest of places, especially in Coober Pedy!

Coober Pedy is a town in the dusty and dry outback of South Australia. Arriving via the Stuart highway you’ll see a big sign full of graffiti. Besides that, there is nothing but dust. That, and holes apparently, judging by the signs telling you not to stray from the roads. All those holes in the ground are no natural phenomenon, but man-made tunnels, dug in search of opal. The opal rich land is what still brings people out to this harsh part of the country where temperatures soar to the fifties in summer. 95 percent of the world’s opals comes from Australia, with Coober Pedy as an unrivaled capital. Living here is tough though. Besides the extreme temperatures and dry land, the summer months bring huge sandstorms. Warm days and cold nights can be difficult to deal with, but in Coober Pedy they’ve found the answer: living underground. About half…

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Woomera is a small place along the long Stuart highway. The area around Woomera, which is about the size of England, is used by the army for testing equipment like weapons and rockets. In the 50s and 60s the area was even used to test atomic bombs. Even in 2000 they still had to clean up to make the area somewhat safer, an operation that cost the country millions. The bombs caused disease to many of the areas inhabitants, mostly from Aboriginal origin. This place was used for tests as it is isolated and the current town of Woomera is just a small town of a few hundred. In this area you can’t get off the main routes of the Stuart highway and the Ghan train line, but since 1982, the ordinary Joe can have a pit stop in the town of Woomera and it even boasts a holiday park…

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The Flinders Ranges stretch out over 400km, so if you want to make the most of it, stay for at least a week. Many of it can only be done by 4WD drive though, but there are still some good options for regular cars as well. Via the town of Hawker you can drive to Wilpena Pound. Hawker is a nice place to stop since there are some artists around. This town used to be a stop on the Ghan Railway. From Hawker it’s a 55km drive to Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges national park. Wilpena Pound is a 80km2 plain surrounded by mountains. Aboriginal dreaming says the mountains were two snakes that disturbed a ceremony and devoured all the people participating in it. Wilpena Pound has a restaurant and campsite with swimming pool. From here you can choose from a range of walks. I took an 8km walk to…

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Walking around in Quorn is like walking in a movie without extras. The streets are super wide, massive, empty and dusty. It’s like a movie has been filmed here and the set has been abandoned. Several Australian movies have been filmed here, like Wolf Creek and Gallipoli. Don’t forget to go celebrity spotting in the pub. You never know who’s filming at the time. With a population of around 1400 you won’t see a lot of people around. Most can be found in the local pub, which has some good food on offer. There is a public swimming pool and close to that is a park/open air museum with old farm equipment. Good for a wander around. A notable feature is the railway that runs through town. Once upon a time it was an important railway, connecting east and west and north and south. Since some new tracks have been created, Quorn’s…

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If you drive past the Adelaide Hills, you’ll enter the Barossa Valley, an area famous for its wines. Besides the many winery tours you can do in the area, there is a big dam, aka the whispering wall. It is a gigantic structure that holds the water of the Barossa reservoir close to Williamstown. The dam crosses about 100m and you can walk all the way across. What they didn’t know when they built it was that the acoustics of the dam were perfect. When you stand on one end of the dam and whisper a secret message, anyone on the other end can hear you clearly. This is possible because of the curve in the design of the dam. Entry to the dam is free.

Lake Hart is a small salt lake in the Eyre basin that lies along the Stuart highway. It might be small compared to its bigger brother, but it’s very impressive to see and it seems endless. There are plenty of salt lake around Australia and you just have to visit one while you’re there. Just pick one! Lake Hart is in a special area near Woomera that is a nuclear danger zone. Nice to know right! Nobody really knows what’s going on in this area, but there are warning signs all around the lake. The one I encounter says not to pick up suspicious items, they could still explode. This is the area where they test weapons, launch rockets and do all sorts of other experiments. To get to the lake you have to cross some train tracks. When I was there, it was one massive plate of salt, stretching…

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The Clare Valley is a beautiful piece of South Australia, on a one hour drive from Adelaide. You are surrounded by dry fields that form a strong contrast with the green vegetation. It’s like I’ve arrived in the scenery of McCleods Daughters and it so happens to be that the series were filmed here. Kingsford Homestead is the real name of Drovers Run and is now used as tourist accommodation. But even if you don’t get to Drovers you’ll feel the station vibe. The many sheep are hiding in the shade of the few trees. Besides cattle, the Clare Valley also has plenty of room for wines. I went to a winery close to the town of Clare, called Seven Hill Winery. Years ago some Austrian Jesuits fled their country and arrived in this region to seek a place where they could practice their religion. They started this winery and…

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The east coast of Australia might be the number one backpacker route, but there is more to this dry continent. To really explore what’s out there in the desert, you should take a road trip between Adelaide and Darwin. The quirky towns and curiosities along the way are well worth the effort. You’ll see a side of Oz that you’ll never forget. Departing from Adelaide you follow the footsteps of the early explorers by taking the Stuart highway, also known as the explorer’s highway, for about 3000km before you arrive in Darwin. There are a lot of things to see along the way, and in the coming weeks, I’ll post about some of your options. I bet there is heaps more to explore, but these are just some of the amazing things I’ve seen along the road. This one is all about the road, not so much about the destination. First up are…

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