The road from Adelaide to Coober Pedy – Making our way to Central Australia

The big question we had when we first decided to do this trip was fly or drive.

Most people probably fly then hire a car there, but when you do that, you miss all the scenery on the way. It does have to be said that you do see some of the most amazing places on the way. We were enthralled and surprised and sometimes thought it wasn’t that different to other places.

Who knew the Loch Ness monster would be one of the highlights?

Possibly the most daunting part was the drive. When we first looked at Google Maps and put in Yulara, the town near Uluru, then added directions from my place it showed it would take 25 hours. We would travel 2312 kilometres to get there. For those that don’t understand kms that is 1437 miles.

There was no way we were doing that in one go. So, we split it into a three day trip. Though it was more of a 4 day one as we ended up with a spare day in Adelaide. Meant we could go to the zoo there to photograph the pandas.

After the two nights, we set up for the 849km drive from Adelaide to Coober Pedy. Google Maps said it would take around 9 hours. OMG, that is a long time to sit in a car.

We had planned to stop at some places to take photos, but really it was more about getting the drive done.

We were meant to take it in turns driving, but I’m afraid Suzzanna did far more driving than me. I don’t know why, but I had so much trouble sleeping at night and then in the car, I couldn’t stay awake. I tried to drive as much as I could, but I didn’t want to be stupid about it either. Suzzanna, I owe you a dinner for all the driving you did.

Somewhere along the way

This was an interesting spot for photos. We stopped here and ate our sandwiches while taking some photos. It looked like it would be really warm, but it was so cold. The wind was icy.

Still, the notion that you can see for miles and miles is amazing. I mean who knows how far we were looking?

On the maps, you can see a lot of salt lakes between Port Augusta and Coober Pedy and we wanted to see them. Most of them are too far from the road, but the first stop had lots to see. On the maps, I showed I have circled Port Augusta in red.

After that, we were back on the road.

Lake Hart

This was a place we had planned on stopping at. It looked close to the road and seemed easy to get to. The photos from Google images looked incredible.

It wasn’t as close as well thought and it was a rocky path. Suzzanna decided not to go to it with her sprained ankle, but I went. It was hot and the flies were so annoying. Surprisingly it was really the only place where we were annoyed by them.

It was not as good as we were hoping. It was full of water and the places we had hoped to see there were underwater. We have had a lot of rain this winter. It still keeps coming and I guess many places in Australia have experienced the same.

In the end, I took a few photos, and we got back on the road.

Just on a side note, the old car. It wasn’t an unusual site up that way. Seemed there were old cars everywhere. We were told that in the olden days, lol, when a car broke down people just left them. I would say the same if they crashed them too. Lots of cars are in the same state as in the photo above.

Keeping the car fueled up

This was something we were really worried about. We had no idea how many petrol (gas) stations there would be along the way and we made the decision to stop at every one.

It didn’t take long for us to realise that it wasn’t really necessary. Most of the time the fuel gauge was only down to 2/3s when we reached the next one. We still did it on the way, but on the way back we stopped at every 2nd or 3rd one.

Coober Pedy

We reached Coober Pedy around 5 pm and headed to our home for the night.

Coober Pedy is known for its opals and the fact that a lot of people live underground. I knew if we went, we had to find somewhere underground. You know just to experience it. We did. Here are a couple of rough photos of the place we stayed.

It was weird sleeping underground. It was quite warm which was surprising when it was cold outside. They, apparently stay at a constant temperature.

I didn’t really take many photos here. We stopped, slept and then got on the road again the following morning.

We had already arranged to stay there for two nights on the way back, so we would have a day for being tourists. (I’m not really a tourist, I say I’m a photographer.)

One thing I did on the way is take some videos of the scenery. My husband said the video is a bit boring, but there is only 4 minutes of it, imagine 9 hours. Actually while sitting in the car it wasn’t too bad. We listened to Michelle Obama’s book and that made the trip go a whole lot faster.

Here is the video

I will see you next as we do the drive from Coober Pedy to Yulara.

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  1. It looks like the Karoo area of South Africa, beautiful to those who grew up there, but flat, dry and a repetitiveness of scenery that change into “nothing to see”

  2. The underground places, that seems to be interesting. Not only is it warm during the colder months, but cooler during the warmer months. I like your line, “I’m really not a tourist … I’m a photographer.”

    1. They were David, not what I thought they would be, but still quite fascinating. Phone reception wasn’t always great in them though. So true, the constant temperature has to be great. haha, my friend, Suzzanna, just looked at me and said you are a tourist. Thank you David.

  3. Long driving trips are the norm for us as our family is several thousand miles from here, and from each other. We just returned from a 3 week long road trip, over 5200 miles (8300 km) and we had many days of 7-8.5 hours of driving. However, the drive itself was worthwhile, and camera in hand, I did manage to set up exposures fast enough to get some good scenes out of the windows. Rest stops also provided a place for photos. Scenery changes so much along the routes we took and as our last trip was cancelled by covid, it was good to hit the road again and see the world. You have some nice places out there and I enjoyed the ones posted, and your video, which is not boring at all!!

    1. I drive between 4 and 5 hours to get to my mums, but that is enough for me. I think you do a good job with all that driving. Though I wonder if you do it all the time why you don’t fly? Unfortunately on this drive the scenery didn’t change, it was flat and arid, with some small trees along the way. After 9 hours of it, it did get boring. Stopping and taking photos at lots of places would have meant taking photos of the same thing all the time. I’m glad I did it, but wouldn’t do it again.

  4. Wow, there is basically nothing out there, Leanne! I’m not sure that I could sleep underground, I would feel like I’m being smothered. Great post! 👍🏻🇦🇺

    1. That’s for sure John. It is very arid out there. It is weird, the underground places. They have windows at the entrances. YOu are under rock, but it is carved into like a cave. It gets very very hot there so living underground makes it more bearable. It was interesting. Thank you John.

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