After getting our fill of food and wine in the Barossa, we said our good byes to Angie and Steve and we continued our trip with Kevin and Shaz over to Port Wakefield and started heading North along the Augusta Highway. We had heard about a pretty good free camp just outside of Lochiel at Bumbunga Lake. True to form, Wiki Camps was right. The place is not much more than a roadside stop but its practically on the shore of the vast lake. The views from here are just spectacular thanks to the contrasting colours of salt, mud and water. We shared a couple of bottles of Barossa wine here and it was just awesome.
The next morning we continued onto Snowtown, a place made famous because of the Body in the Barrel murders and the notorious bank vault. Its a shame as Snowtown actually has a rich agricultural history that has been overshadowed the more recent unfortunate past. There's a sense of a town struggling to hang onto its own life. There's strong links to the wind farm industry which seems to be keeping the town alive. There's a massive blade from one of the generators on display that is quite impressive.
Travelling further north for a quick lunch stop at Crystal Brook and onto our next stop at Bowman Park. This is a corker of a free camp surrounded by large gum trees, historic buildings and rocky hills. We stayed here for a few nights giving our new Lithium battery system a real workout, the trees preventing the bulk of the scant available sunlight from reaching our solar panels. It a great place to just kick back and relax or enjoy some bush walking and exploring the old buildings.
From there we went up to stay a few nights at Quorn. Nestled at the foot of the Flinders Ranges, Quorn is another town with a rich history. It sits on the old Ghan railway line, part of which remains as the Pitchi Ritchi railway tourist train. Its a great place to base yourself to explore the some of the best Flinders Rangers has to offer including Wilpena Pound, Kanyaka homestead ruins and the historic township of Hawker. Quorn itself has lots of old railway stock and derelict road construction and farm machinery on display making for some great photography.
We left Quorn and headed for Port Augusta and the beginning of the Stuart Highway. We've always felt a sense coming home when ever we hit the Stuart. Its like driving up extremely long driveway to our holiday home, the iconic Australian Outback. Kylie and Sharon took the opportunity to get some driving in and give myself and Kev a bit of a chance to take in the passing scenery.
We had planned to take a slow drive up the Stuart and do as much free camping as we could along the way. Fortunately there are plenty of opportunities to pull off the road and rest for a night or two. The only thing to keep in mind is that many of these stops may be used by truck drivers so try to leave enough room for them and use the space available wisely.
Our first stop was at Kootaberra and then we went on to Pinba and camped at the roadhouse. This place is extremely busy during winter with many grey nomads making their way to the warmer north. We were ahead of our schedule so we decided to take a detour and head towards Woomera and Roxby Downs. We stayed a couple of days and took a day trip to visit the mining town of Andamooka. Here you can see the unique display of early miners' housing, the 'house' made of glass bottles and enjoy the best milkshake this side of the Alice Springs...!
We left Roxby Downs and headed back to the Pimba to join the Stuart again and turn north towards our next camp at Lake Hart. Kylie and I had stayed here before but we didn't get a chance to explore the dry salt lake that dominates the area. We were all looking forward to going again.
The camp area at Lake Hart is quite large but it is extremely popular so it pays to pull in early in the morning. We were lucky to secure a couple of premium spots at the top of the park. A short walk away from the park and you face a seemingly endless expanse of salt. Lake Hart is huge, approximately 16,000 hectares and completely dry. The salt is pure white in colour and is almost blinding in full sunlight. Its quite a sight and well worth the visit. Be careful exploring the area. It is within the Woomera test range and signs warn of the likelihood of un-exploded ordinance hiding in the area.
We left Lake hart and continued north along the Stuart to our next destination of Coober Pedy.