USEFUL TRAVEL INFO.
Travelling to remote locations needs a lot of preparation. When I travel, whether it is a place I have been to before or not, I try to gather as much information as possible at the trip planning stage. This combined with experiences I have gathered from past travels, helps me to be fairly well prepared.
In this page, I share my general as well as trip specific experiences with the hope of providing useful information to others who are planning overland trips. The page will be updated after every trip I've done.
Please contact me if you would like any further information from the trips I've done.
I strongly recommend spending at least two days and two nights in Coober Pedy. There is much to see. Famous for its Opals, a mine tour provides valuable insight to how Opals were first discovered in Coober Pedy and the hardships people went through in the hope of striking it rich. There are a number of different tours one can take. A visit to the town information centre is advised.
Having been a popular movie location for its unique landscape, mainly for sci-fi movies, remnants of movie props scatter the town. These are worthwhile taking a look if you are into this sort of thing.
A visit to the BIG WINCH will give you an overall view of the town from an elevated perspective.
There are many accommodation places. However, I will highly suggest staying at one of the underground hotels or lodges for an authentic experience of how the locals live. Nature's own climate control (constant 25 degrees C/77 degrees F) is an experience both in the winter and the summer months. Keep in mind Summer temperatures can be in the high 40s (high 110 degrees F).
There are quite a number of eating places in the town ranging from Chinese, Italian to Greek.
Whilst based in Coober Pedy, visit The Breakaways Conservation Park (35km from Coober Pedy) for some breathtaking landscape views. Best viewed early morning or late afternoon. A permit is required to visit this park. This can be obtained from the information centre at Coober Pedy. Also visit the Dog Fence to see one of the longest man-made structures in the world.
To get to The Breakways - head north along the A87, turning left at the marker approximately 28kms from Coober Pedy. You can head back the same way, alternatively, drive through the park, pass the Dog Fence and turn right onto Kempe road to return to Coober Pedy.
Typical bedroom in a dug-out
Remnants of Sci-Fi movie props
Breakaways Conservation Park
OODNADATTA | OODNADATTA TRACK | PINK ROADHOUSE
My most recent trip to Oodnadatta was in June 2017 and the track was well graded. However, corrugations were quite a nuisance. Though four-wheel drive was not needed to travel on this track, it is recommended, as this gives the driver a lot more control on the gravel and also minimises the impact of making the corrugations any worse. Reducing tyre pressures to an appropriate level also helps tremendously.
Oodnadatta is a very small town with not much to see or do. An ideal stopover for travellers with camping facilities available from the Pink Roadhouse. The roadhouse also offers a good variety of supplies, fuel (diesel and petrol) and hot meals. A workshop is also available in case running repairs are needed.
At the trip pre-planning stage, it is a good idea to call the Pink Roadhouse for track updates and other vital information.
Iconic Pink Roadhouse - Oodnadatta
Be prepared for severe corrugations
Dalhousie Springs is part of Witjira National Park, so a desert parks permit is required to enter. This permit is also needed when travelling east of Dalhousie towards Birdsville through the Simpson Desert. Permits can be purchased online from South Australian national parks website or from Mt Dare hotel.
A stopover and a dip at Dalhousie springs is a must for any traveller. During the winter months, a dip in the spring is guaranteed to be heavenly. Make it a point to watch the Sunrise or Sunset from the hot water spring. It is quite a magical feeling.
Camping facilities with toilets and cold water showers are available. Collecting firewood nor lighting open fires are permitted in the park. However, fire beads in a fire bucket or similar is allowed.
A greater appreciation for a place is gained when the history is learnt. So, visit Dalhousie Ruins (7km from the springs) and spend some time there.
A dip in Dalhousie hot water spring is a must.
Dalhousie has quite a number of camp sites
MT DARE HOTEL
Mt Dare Hotel is located approximately 65km (40mi) from Dalhousie Springs. The hotel is the perfect outback watering hole for all travelers. It is a family run operation, so sure to get a personalised service.
I phoned the hotel during my trip planning stage and also a few days before I set off to get track and other information. The staff at Mt Dare Hote are very helpful and always a wealth of information.
Accommodation, water and fuel (diesel and petrol) are available.
When travelling to Mt Dare hotel from Dalhousie springs there are two routes you can take. The most direct route is approximately 65km (40mi). However, the section of route passing through Christmas Well (23km / 14mi stretch) is slow going due to lost of small rocks to drive over. An alternative is to travel through Bloods Creek (76km / 47mi). When travelling from Dalhousie to Mt Dare, turn left after 30km (18mi) or turn left at 27km (17mi) when travelling Mt Dare to Dalhousie. This helps to avoid the difficult stretch and you'll get there a lot quicker.
THE SIMPSON DESERT
Rains can make the Simpson impassable at times. So best is to call Mt Dare Hotel and Birdsville Hotel a few days before starting your trip to get track updates.
You will cross approximately 1100 dunes.
Crossing east to west is the most challenging as the eastern side dunes are a lot steeper as compared to the west side.
To truly enjoy and understand the beauty of the Simpson, I would recommend between four to five days. I did meet many who had done the crossing in fewer days, but to me, this would be a rush for the sake of crossing this magnificent landscape.
In my trip, I traveled west to east taking the French and QAA lines. Dalhousie springs to Birdsville. This was approximately 510km.
Carry enough fuel, food and water. Winter months can be quite pleasant, but still be prepared. There are no re-fuel points in between.
The Simpson is closed between the months of December and March due to the summer temperatures that can sometimes be in excess of 50 centigrade (122f).
3 meter high, sand flags are mandatory for all vehicles. The main purpose of this is to alert oncoming traffic of your presence. Be careful where you buy your flags from. Some eBay flags come short of the 3-meter requirement. In addition to the flags, always use channel 10 whilst in the Simpson. Listen to chatter from other convoys and at the same time warn possible oncoming traffic of your direction of travel, especially as you are about to climb up a dune.
A desert parks permit is required. Easiest is to purchase online. Permits can also be purchased from Mt Dare hotel.
During the month of June, the Fink desert race takes place increasing the amount of traffic through the Simpson as race fans travel across the Simpson to get to Fink. If you don't like crowds, then I suggest you avoid this period. Race dates are available online.
Thick sand can slow down the drive.
Night skies in the Simpson can be magical