We arrived in South Australia on the 25th February. Little did we know then that we wouldn’t be leaving until mid July! We’ve really enjoyed our time in SA, as we’ve seen so much more than we realised was here, and still have reasons to come back for some places we missed – but not many!
On our way back north, we visited the Clare Valley and went to the Good Catholic Girl winery, meeting the owner Julie. With our motorhome Katya already acting like a wine cellar with the mixed dozen we bought in the Riverlands, we could only buy one bottle of wine.
Wanting to avoid Port Augusta this time, there are many small towns on the way up north, including Georgetown where we stayed one night in the great free camp the town provides, and Wirrabarra (silo art). We stayed at the showground in Melrose for 4 nights walking the short distance into town each day. There is so much to do there with hiking and bike riding as well as a couple of nice cafes. We did the nature walk and the summit walk on Mt Remarkable, where you had to fit through a slim opening in the gate stopping bikes from entering the track. Mark must have put on weight. There are the remains of a plane crash that occurred in 1980, on one of the rocky slopes. We also cycled halfway to Wilmington, 19km away. My bum was so sore I couldn’t sit down afterwards.
We were disappointed to find that the Prairie Hotel at Parachilna, west of the Ikara Flinders Ranges had still not opened. They normally have great meals with kangaroo, emu and camel on the menu, but we stayed in the Parachilna Gorge free camp for a couple of nights which was quiet and relaxing.
Further north, we had lunch at Copley with quandong pies, then soaked in the hot natural spa at Coward Springs. Not bad desert camp there but at $15 per person per night, it’s too expensive for more than one night. We stopped in at the William Creek hotel, and stayed the night at the free camp at Lake Cadibarrawirracanna. It took me several times to get that right! The wild budgies twittered around us, and the night sky was amazing!
We decided to treat ourselves to a night in a hotel in Coober Pedy and stayed in an underground room at the Desert Cave. We had a great sleep, as it was so dark. The rest of our stay in Coober Pedy was made more colourful when we met a guy called Tony and his girlfriend Zhiling. He is an opal miner and dealer and showed us his opal and stone collection which was overwhelming. After spending about 2 hours sifting through many hundreds of opals I found two matching solids which Tony set into earrings for me. We also spent time helping them match loose stones into ring settings.
The finale of our time there was when Tony showed us the underground property he bought, which he is slowly cleaning and fixing up. It is basically an underground mansion with so many rooms and a large area for entertaining. He’s not sure what he wants to do with it, but thinks it will be an event space, and B&B for his friends and family. I’d love to help him finish it, as I could see the potential, but I wouldn’t want to be around in summer!
As we left Coober Pedy, we stopped at the Serbian Orthodox church which has been dug out of a hill – truly beautiful.
We had one final night in SA in a free camp as close to the border as we could get. There were people who’d been there for 3 days waiting for the border opening on the 17th. We had a campfire, Mark made his now infamous bread, and went to bed early, as many of them were planning on getting up before dawn to beat the queue. We got up at about 6:30am, and by the time we got to the border it was 8am, but the queue was only about a dozen cars. Thankfully the grumpy policeman had no issue with our forms and let us through. We’re in the Northern Territory finally!
Despite being told Uluru was closed, we had already booked at the campground so took a chance. Many things are still closed, but the walks around Uluru and Kata Tjuta (Mt Olga) were open. We have so many photos of these rocks, you wouldn’t believe. But here are a select few.
The news of COVID 19 spreading again in Australia is extremely concerning, and we are thinking of our family and friends in Sydney and Melbourne and elsewhere where the numbers are not looking good. Stay safe everyone.