This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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1999 Travels September 1


Today was hot, with only a little cloud.

We chatted for a while with a Swiss couple, who we’d encountered at Birdsville, with a Bushtracker caravan. They’d then driven down the Birdsville Track to Marree, up the Oodnadatta Track, to Oodnadatta, then come across to here. We had a look inside their van – we have not seen one inside, before. I found it rather claustrophobic and closed in. She was not all that happy with it – found it uncomfortable. It looked very heavy to me, for towing.

I packed our lunch, then we drove to the Information Centre, collected some SA material, and bought a Breakaways Pass, for $4.

The Breakaways are to the north of Coober Pedy – about 35kms away. They are, basically, an area of erosion features – flat topped mesa-like outcrops and stony gibber plains. The flat tops of these and the nearby Stuart Range are because many millions of years ago, the region was an inland sea. After the sea receded, softer areas were eroded; the Range and its outliers were more resistant. Similar to Chambers Pillar, I guess. Because the erosion features look like they have broken away from the Range, they were called The Breakaways.

We drove out there – about 30kms north again, on the Stuart Highway, and then we took a dirt road to the east for about 5kms. From the highway, the Stuart Range appears as a low, flat topped plateau on the eastern horizon. There is no indication of the brilliant scenery to come, until one is right up close.

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First sight of the Breakaways

The dramatic starkness, and the brilliant bands of colour really stand out here. We parked Truck and walked for over an hour, following a walking track around the base of part of an  escarpment, and to some viewpoints on its top. It was hot going, on the bare, stony ground. I found it a battle to watch where I was putting my feet – kept wanting to gaze at the unreal formations around me. We did not meet anyone else on the walk, and only saw one other vehicle out here, at all. This is really a little-known attraction of the area – everything seems focussed on opals and the town.

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09-01-1999 03 from lo 2

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Back in Truck, drove a short distance to The Castle formation, admired different perspectives and ate our lunch there.

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We returned to Coober Pedy mid-afternoon, via a circuit route, that took us over the Moon Plain – flat, featureless and grey – and along the Dog Fence for a way. The Dog fence is a 2 metre high wire structure, that extends for over 5000kms, and is meant to keep dingoes out of the sheep grazing country of southern Australia. Unfortunately, domestic dogs gone feral probably do more damage to livestock than dingoes, anyway!

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The Dog Fence

That track eventually met the Coober Pedy to William Creek road (unsealed), and we followed that to the highway, and thence back to Coober Pedy.

We’d had a most enjoyable excursion to some fascinating country.

Went to the public water point and paid to fill our big container, then back at the van, emptied this into one of the van’s water tanks. This was not easy to manage, but we had help from a non-English speaking neighbour in a camper van. Much appreciated, and I hope we were able to convey that.

Had a couple of late afternoon beers with other neighbours – from Brisbane. Told them all about today’s excursion. They had not heard of The Breakaways, but I think we convinced them that it was a worthwhile excursion.

Tea was steak, fries, bacon, with eggs for John and mushrooms for me.

John’s sister phoned and they had a chat.