- Oodnadatta Track
- Birdsville Track
- Strzelecki Track
- Lake Eyre and William Creek
- Sleep underground in Coober Pedy
- Moon Plain, Breakaways and Painted Desert
- Birdsville and "Big Red" in the Simpson Desert
- Flinders Ranges
- Coongie Lakes wetlands
Day 1: (L,D).
You will be collected from your Adelaide accommodation at 7 am this morning for your 10 day 4WD Safari along the Oodnadatta, Birdsville and Strzelecki tracks.
Our destination today is the opal capital of the world, Coober Pedy and it will take us all day to get here with stops and lunch en-route. Coober Pedy is as famous for it’s underground homes as it is for it’s opals and 50% of the population live underground (in homes called “dugouts”), as well as using underground shops and churches.
Upon arrival into Coober Pedy, we check into our hotel and then after spending the day getting to know each other, we’ll enjoy our first dinner together as a group, in the restaurant. Overnight accommodation- underground motel room with en-suite, Desert Cave Hotel, Coober Pedy.
Day 2: (B,L,D).
There’s some free time this morning for you to have a wander through the town, visit the Old Timers Mine and Museum, The Umoona opal mine and museum (also home to the “Footsteps in time” fossil display), visit one of the underground churches in the town or have a look around Crocodile Harry's Underground Nest, one of the weirdest dugouts of Coober Pedy and one of most famous in the world due to it’s use in the movie Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome.
Mid- morning we depart Coober Pedy and head across the Moon Plain to the Breakaways. The Moon Plain is rich in fossil deposits, evidence of the inland sea that covered this region 120 million years ago and offers a vast expanse of rocky plains unlike anywhere else. The strange lunar landscape has been used for many Hollywood movies including Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome, Pitch Black, Red Planet and Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
We’ll cross the Dog Fence numerous times during the trip but the first time is today on the way to the Breakaways. The longest fence in the world, at 5300 km, it stretches across 3 states, from Queensland to the far west of South Australia, separating the sheep stations in the south from the dingoes of Central Australia. The Breakaways are a striking & unique example of arid scenery. From the flat - topped mesas to the stony gibber desert, remnants of millions of years provide a wealth of geological interests and breathtaking views.
We continue to our accommodation for the evening at Arckaringa Station, check in and then venture out again, mid-afternoon, to the Paint Desert (Arckaringa Hills).The Painted Desert is an ancient Inland Sea bed where the hills are the result of rain, weather and erosion. The slopes and shapes include many different colours and shades of orange, yellow and white, and it is the coloured shale on the faces of the hills from which the name “Painted Desert” came. The various shapes are formed when the top layers of soil dry out and fall away to reveal the beautiful rich colours underneath. It’s fantastic for photography especially in the late afternoon, sunset and sunrise.
Dinner tonight will be cooked by your guide. Overnight accommodation- Cabins at Arckaringa Station with shared bathrooms.
Day 3: (B,L,D).
We have views of the Painted Desert from Arckaringa so for the early risers, it’s a great spot to view and photograph sunrise over the hills. This morning we continue through the desert to Oodnadatta. Famous for it’s pink roadhouse, the town was originally created when the Overland Telegraph Line was laid and then became the northern terminus for the Central Australia Railway.
The 615 km unsealed Oodnadatta Track follows the Old Ghan Railway line and the Overland Telegraph, after it was originally mapped by the explorer, John McDouall Stuart. The track follows an old Aboriginal trading route through semi-desert country with artesian springs and waterholes along the way. The route was also used by camel trains in the 1880’s, led by cameleers from Afghanistan, both of whom were especially brought to Australia for the task of hauling goods into Central Australia for use by pioneer settlers. Camels were the only pack animals capable of taking on a six-week journey in often extreme heat, through sandy terrain. When the train line was extended to Alice Springs in 1929, many of these camels were left to run wild in the outback where they number in the tens of thousands today. The line became known as the Central Australian Railway and the train service on the line was known as the Ghan in honour of the Afghan cameleers.
After a comfort stop and the opportunity for a quick look around the town or the museum (previously the railway station) we now head south along the Oodnadatta Track. Our destination today is William Creek and en-route we stop at Algebuckina Bridge and historic site and Peake Historic site. The Oodnadatta Track is littered with ruins of old town sites, station ruins, homes, cairns and remnants of the old railway line, the short-lived gold rush and the Overland Telegraph Line.
We arrive at William Creek, the smallest settlement in South Australia with a population of 3 humans and a dog! It’s located 165 km from the nearest town and sits in the largest cattle station in the world (Anna Creek-approximately the size of England).
We check into our accommodation and this afternoon we make our way out to Halligan Bay at Lake Eyre North for a look at the magnificent lake with it’s incredible colours and patterns. Lake Eyre is Australia’s lowest point, the largest inland lake in Australia and the largest salt lake in the world ! The Lake contains 400 million tonnes of salt and is 15 metres below sea level. Donald Campbell set a land speed world record of 649 km in his turbine car "Bluebird" on its dry bed back in 1964. Dinner tonight will be served in the restaurant. Overnight accommodation - William Creek Hotel, middle of nowhere, Outback South Australia. Room with en-suite.
Day 4: (B,L,D).
We continue exploring the Oodnadatta Track this morning, heading towards Marree. We stop several times en-route, at Strangeways Ruin, Curdimurka ruins and at the natural artesian springs within Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs Conservation Park. The Blanche Cup and The Bubbler mound springs are created from water deep within the Great Artesian Basin which filters to the surface forming mounds and bubbling ponds. The wetlands created by the spring's overflow provide habitat to a variety of waterbirds. After stopping at the Lake Eyre South lookout, we pass the famous dingo fence again and then reach Marree, which is situated at the crossroads of the Oodnadatta and Birdsville Tracks. The town also has a rich Aboriginal, Afghan and European heritage. Departing Marree, we now travel north on the famous stock route, which is the Birdsville Track. The track passes through the Tirari and Sturt Stony Deserts and is extremely remote but strikingly beautiful in its harshness.
The 517 km track, which traverses vast gibber strewn plains and sand dunes, was established in the 1860s as the main stock route to bring cattle from central Queensland to the railway in Marree. In these days the track had a grim reputation, many people and mobs of cattle lost their lives, so the Track is rich in history and tragedy. It later became an important as a freight route into the outback and in the 1930’s, it even had it’s own mail route, on which the legendary mailman, Tom Kruse, worked for almost 20 years. You can still see his old mail truck in Marree and there’s a new museum dedicated to him, which we have time to visit while we’re in Marree (own expense).
We travel past the ruins of the Lake Harry Date Plantation, the cairn and Milner Pile, before crossing through the Cooper Creek and the Natterannie Sandhills to our accommodation this evening, at the historic Mungerannie Hotel. The hotel is close to the beautiful hills of Mungerannie Gap, which are the largest geographical sight along the Birdsville Track (150 m) and the Mungerannie wetlands provides refuge for a variety of birds and animals, especially in times of drought. The hotel also has an artesian hot pool. We have the rest of the afternoon free for bird watching, photography and relaxation. Dinner tonight will be served in the restaurant. Overnight accommodation - Mungerannie Hotel, room with shared bathrooms.
Day 5: (B,L,D).
Our destination today is Birdsville. En-route we stop at Mirra Mitta Bore, a hot flowing artesian bore, and we pass through Clifton Hills Station, the largest on the track. The last leg of the track, into Birdsville, takes us past Koonchera Dune and the Page Family grave, which is a harsh reminder of the remoteness and dangers of Outback travel years ago.
We arrive into Birdsville at lunchtime and have the afternoon to explore this famous, remote, outback town. We’ll visit the Burke and Wills Tree and then there’s some free time for you to visit the Birdsville Working museum, the ruins of the Royal Hotel, the Old Birdsville Courthouse and / or visit the Birdsville Billabong, where you can have a swim and bird watch. Birdsville is a haven for bird-watchers with pelicans, water hens, cockatoos, gallahs, brolgas, emus and more living along the pristine Diamantina River and in the surrounding bush.
Late this afternoon, we drive out to Big Red, the largest and most famous sand dune in the Simpson Desert. It offers fantastic photo opportunities, especially at sunset. Dinner tonight will be served in the restaurant. Overnight accommodation - Birdsville Hotel, motel room with en-suite.
Day 6: (B,L,D).
We’re heading south today, through Cattle Country and back into South Australia to Innamincka, made famous by Victorian explorers Burke and Wills and their ill-fated exploration across central Australia.
We pass Cadelga station ruins and through Cordillo Downs station, home to the worlds largest shearing shed, which is heritage listed. After a look around the impressive ruin, we continue to the tiny outback town of Innamincka, situated in the heart of the Innamincka Regional Reserve, covering over 1.3 million hectares of land ranging from expanses of gibber rises to the thriving wetlands of the Cooper Creek system. The Cooper Creek is Australia’s 2nd longest inland river system (after the Murray Darling) and was a major Aboriginal trade route. Conditions will determine how long it takes us to get here but we have the rest of the day to explore as well as a full day tomorrow.
We’ll explore the eastern part of the town today including the famous Burke and Wills Dig Tree (camp LXV). It was here that the explorers left a base camp while they continued north, along with King and Grey. In charge of the camp, Brahe waited longer than he’d been requested to but his decision to return south only hours before the Burke and Wills party returned, is one of the most unfortunate coincidences in Australian history. Grey died en-route to Innamincka, Burke and Wills died along Cooper Creek and King was the sole survivor, being cared for by Aboriginal people until the back up party found him.
As well as the dig tree and Burke memorial, we’ll visit Cullyamurra waterhole, one of the most magnificent waterholes in Central Australia and never known to be dry. Dinner tonight will be served at the homestay. Overnight accommodation - Cooper Creek Homestay, room with en-suite (2 night stay).
Day 7: (B,L,D).
Today we explore Coongie Lakes National Park, a Ramsar desert wetland of International importance. The park is a pristine water world made up of channels, waterholes, lakes and swamps and the contrast from sand dunes to vast wetlands is remarkable. This arid wetland plays host to a diversity of wildlife including native birds, fish, reptiles and frogs and and is a significant feeding, resting and breeding site for an enormous number of birds that migrate to the area. Here we can enjoy some Birdwatching, photography and bushwalking. We’ll visit Wills memorial and then finish the day at Minkie Waterhole. Conditions permitting, there may be the opportunity to take a cruise on Cooper Creek (at own expense). Overnight accommodation- Cooper Creek Homestay, room with en-suite.
Day 8: (B,L,D).
As we depart Innamincka and head south through the Strzelecki Desert and join the last of our legendary Outback Tracks- the Strzelecki Track. Explorer Charles Sturt named the track after Polish explorer and geologist Paul Edmund de Strzelecki and the 465 km track runs North-South from Lyndhurst to Innamincka. The Track was pioneered as a cattle route by bushman Harry Redford (AKA Captain Starlight), who brought 1000 stolen cattle from Queensland to South Australia in 1871 without a single death. Although caught with conclusive evidence, the jury at his trial admired this feat and refused to convict him !
Our first stop today is the viewpoint at the Moomba oil and gasfields. Natural gas was first discovered in the region in 1966 and was followed by the discovery of oil in 1970. Moomba is now a major supplier of both for Australian and overseas markets.
We turn off and join the Old Strzelecki Track at Merty Merty, following the track to Camerons Corner on the border of South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland. Driving past Bollards Lagoon Station, keep an eye out for the yellow bus!
We continue south on the Strzelecki Track, passing Strzelecki Crossing, Montecollina Bore and then we cross the Cobbler to the ruins of Blanchewater Station, a successful property destroyed by floods in 1940. The Cobbler is an enormous, drifting series of pale dunes between Lakes Callabonna and Blanche. Our accommodation tonight is in the Northern Flinders Ranges. Dinner tonight will be cooked by your guide. Overnight accommodation- Station rooms with shared bathrooms.
Day 9: (B,L,D).
The final leg of our journey along the Strzelecki Track takes us to the small town of Lyndhurst, home of Talc Alf, a Dutch born sculptor, poet and bush philosopher, which studio we visit briefly. We’re heading south again to the Flinders Ranges, known for it’s unique beauty, indigenous history, ancient geological formations, rich colours and textures and abundant wildlife. The Flinders Ranges are home to a huge array of plant species, birds, reptiles and mammals and the vibrant colours of the 800 million-year-old quartzite and limestone outcrop that is the Flinders, are truly spectacular.
En-route, we call into the lookout over Leigh Creek open cut coal mine, before continuing to Parachilna, another tiny township with a population in single digits ! It’s a favourite among film makers thanks to the beautiful landscape. The road from Beltana to Parachilna runs beside the old railway line, with many remnants of old railway stations, bridges across creeks and straight stretches where the railway used to run.
Next we take the Brachina Gorge Geological Trail, a 20 km trail that passes through 130 million years of earth history, including meteorite debris, stromatolites and fossilized plant and animal life. It offers an insight into past climates, the formation of the ranges and the evolution of early forms of life. Brachina Gorge is well known for it’s towering rock faces. In the foreground the many sedimentary layers which make up this part of the ranges can be clearly seen. It’s also an important refuge for the rare and endangered Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby.
We travel through the ABC and Heysen Ranges to nearby Bunyeroo Gorge and a stop for photos at Razorback Lookout. Our final dinner as a group will be served in the restaurant at Wilpena Pound Resort, our accommodation for this evening. Overnight accommodation - Wilpena Pound Resort- standard room with en-suite
Day 10 (B,L).
This morning you have the option of taking a walk into Wilpena Pound or take a scenic flight (at own expense). We’ll walk along the beautiful Wilpena Creek, framed by huge river red gums, into Wilpena Pound. Walking on to the Old Hills Homestead, you can learn about the hardships the Hills family had to face at the turn of the century with the option of walking up to the Wangara lookout to see the mystical heart of the Flinders Ranges with stunning views over Wilpena Pound. There is a shuttle available to shorten the walk.
Departing the Flinders Ranges, we head south towards Hawker, the hub of the Flinders Ranges and a thriving railway town until the line was relocated west in 1956. At Jarvis Hill Lookout, we take in the panoramic views of the Hawker area, including the Worumba Hills to the east, Wilpena Pound, Elder Range and Wonoka Hill to the north and Yourambulla Range to the south.
We continue to Quorn, home to the famous Pichi Richi Railway and many heritage buildings. The Quandong Café is located in the oldest stone building in Quorn, at 130 years old and is home to the famous Quondong Pie.
The last leg of our journey takes us to Port Augusta and from here we continue south to Adelaide. We arrive in Adelaide at approximately 6 pm and you will be dropped off at your accommodation.
End of Tour. B = Breakfast L = Lunch D = Dinner.
Twin share price is $4800 pp adult and $4600 child (aged 10-15 years), single room is $5300 and solo travelers must have own room.
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