Road Trip through Coober Pedy

The stretch of road between Port Augusta and Coober Pedy tends to be thought of as a big stretch of nothingness but on our recent road trip I realised that it has a little more to offer than nothing. There are a number of gorgeous pink lakes, seen below in the photos I took quickly through the moving car window. 

To break up the drive, we spent the night at Coober Pedy. Coober Pedy lies along the Stuart Highway, about 800kms north of Adelaide and about 800km south of Alice Springs. The town's claim to fame is that it is the largest opal mining area in the world. Opal mines surround the town. Some are working mines and other's are abandoned - so be careful where you step! Coober Pedy's other claim to fame is it's underground houses. The underground houses maintain a consistent temperature all year round, not needing air conditioning despite plus 40 Celsius temperatures in summer.  

When in Coober Pedy we stay at the always lovely, permanently stuck in the 1980s hotel/motel, the Desert Cave. The decor might be a thing of the past, but it's clean and it has an old glamour edge to it. You can just imagine what it was like when it first opened. So fancy! An oasis in the desert. 

Last time we were there (back in 2013!) forked out the big bucks for an underground room (you have to stay in one at least once) but this time we cheapened out and went for an above ground room. For dinner we went to the hotel restaurant and were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the meal. Yes, it's expensive but you are in the middle of nowhere, of course it will cost you more than an equivalent meal in a city. Expect to pay more. The town itself, quite desolate does have a pretty element to it at the golden hour.

More pictures of Coober Pedy here.

Henbury Meteorite Craters

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The Henbury Meteorite Craters are on the road back from Kings Canyon (If you take the Ernest Giles Road). We normally speed right past, keen to arrive home quickly. But this time we had a toddler with us who was getting fidgety and as we were a fair way from the next stop, we pulled in at the Henbury Meteorite Craters to have a closer look and let Lulu have a run around.

The reserve contains 12 craters which were formed when a meteor hit. The walk around the edge of the first crater is fairly easy, perfect for stretching your legs after driving. Lulu even walked some of it. Nick & I were both too tired & wanted to get home quickly so we didn't walk around the other craters. The flowers on the craters were beautiful. We were there late in the day so the lighting was just perfect. No need for photo editing filters!

You can also camp overnight there for a small fee that you drop into an honesty box. There is a long drop toilet and a few campfire pits. A great location if you like to camp in peace and quiet. As I said, we didn't stay too long, but it was definitely worth pulling off the main road and taking a look.

Pit stop on the Feb '13 roadtrip - Coober Pedy

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Coober Pedy lies roughly 800km south of Alice Springs and about 800km north of Adelaide. If you're driving to & from Alice Springs to Adelaide, there is no way to avoid it. The town is surrounded by, well, nothing at all, above the ground that is. The main industry is opal mining. Opal was discovered there in 1915 and many return soldiers moved to town to mine it after World War 1. 

Most of the town lies underground, which makes for a fairly deserted streetscape. It was the return soldiers who introduced the underground living, similar to the dougouts they lived in in the trenches of France. I had thought the underground houses were just to escape the heat! As I had never stayed in one of the underground hotels we took this return trip from Apollo Bay as the perfect opportunity. It was quite strange without natural light and silent, so silent. If you like to fall asleep in a quiet, dark room, The Desert Cave Hotel is the place for you. 

We arrived early afternoon & set out on a little walking adventure, before having a beer at one of the pubs and an early pizza dinner. I love the fruit on the roof of John's Pizza Bar & Restaurant. Everyone from Alice Springs who has been to Coober Pedy says you have to have dinner at Tom & Mary's Greek Restaurant, but we think the pizza at John's is the bomb. After dinner it was a quick sink bath for Lulu and then early to bed for all of us to rest up for the last day of our three day trip home.

Roadtripping with a Baby

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Last Thursday we headed off for our annual trip to Apollo Bay. We had decided to drive, mainly because Apollo Bay is a 2.5hr trip from Melbourne & if we flew we'd have to hire a car to get here from the airport anyway. However, Apollo Bay happens to be a 3 day car trip from Alice Springs and I think Lulu must have sensed that she'd be trapped in a car for 3 days, so she threw up before we even left the house and then 3 more times before we reached the Finke Start/Finish line, which is about 15km from Alice Springs. 

Since we were still in mobile phone range I looked at the cost of a flight to Adelaide for Lulu & I. Fights were less than $250 and with the possibility that Lulu would continue to be sick during the day when we're 300km from no where (not an exaggeration), we turned back and took the flight. Nick, the hero, met us in Adelaide the next day with the car. We spent two nights with my parents before continuing the journey to Apollo Bay. Lulu wasn't sick over the weekend & only threw up twice during what became an over 10hr car trip. 

It's normally about a 7hr trip to the Bay, but when you're travelling with a baby you need to make a lot of stops and the stops aren't just running to use the loo or buy a drink. You've got the nappy change, a feed (and yes, she'll suck that bottle down as slowly as possible), stretching her little legs, playing on the swings. The old 'she'll just fall asleep because it's so boring' did not apply. She slept for maybe three hours in total! My tips for roadtripping with an 11 month old? 

  • ensure you can reach from the front to give the baby a bottle in the back - my arms are way too short for this to be comfortable
  • Interactive book/s - Lulu loves books where she can feel different elements ie sandpaper, fluffy, bumpy. One of these books can keep her entertained for ages.
  • Hanging toys - hang different toys from the handle above the door.
  • Snacks - I lost count of how many rice crackers Lulu ate. Many ended up on the floor but they all kept her occupied for a while
  • Sesame Street - At some point it's all just going to get to be too much. This is when you crack out the sesame street on the ipad. Yes, I was someone who said my kid wouldn't watch tv in the car but when confronted with a crying 11 month old who just wants out though we stopped 10 mins ago? TV wins. 

Have you done a big road trip with your baby?

Any tips for our trip back? We are contemplating another flight!

Sunsets and New Wheels

After work and daycare last week, we all went for a drive in our new car. Until now I had been putting Lulu in and out of a two door Barina - back breaking and awkward to say the least. We now have a shiny new Subaru Outback station wagon with plenty of doors and loads of boot space for Lulu's pram and other paraphernalia. The sunset we took in on the drive was AMAZING. I had to take a few snaps to show you. 

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Half way through the drive this little munchkin had fallen asleep, luckily she'd had dinner and a quick bath before the drive so she could go straight into her cot when we arrived home.