Much to all our delight the mechanic rang Bruce and said he felt it was a possibly just a problem with the distributor and that he would install a new one. $800 later Bruce was able to pick up the ute. This proving to be a most expensive trip for Bruce and Linda that’s for sure. It took a while for the repairs to be done, so it was just before 1.00pm when we finally packed up and left Port Augusta. The roads are in great condition so we made good progress. We stopped at a roadside stop for a quick lunch and then headed off for Woomera. So far today the ute has been trouble free. We hope and pray that it will stay that way now for the rest of our trip.
The scenery is hard to describe. Quite beautiful in some places and downright ugly in others (my opinion mind you), but still worth seeing. The red earth continues to dominate – no wonder these parts and parts of the N.T. are called the ‘RED CENTRE’. There were a few large lakes on the way with viewing areas. These lakes are no doubt salt affected because there is no bird life on them, but their size is amazing and we were not expecting to see such large areas covered in water.
We pulled in to Woomera around 4.00pm. It is once again a very well set up caravan park (probably around 40 to 50 sites, plus cabins). It includes 3 sets of facilities, a licensed bar for ‘happy hour’ (although we only saw 4 people there when we walked past), plus many unpowered sites for campers. The cost is $25 a night. This is the average price we have paid all trip, so it is quite good.
After setting up, and then having afternoon tea, we all went for a walk into the town. We were quite amazed. It is a defence town, totally maintained and administered by the Dept. of Defence and the streets and footpaths and gardens are beautifully maintained (very dry of course, but still pleasant to look at). We walked up to an area which has artifacts and equipment from the days when Woomera was a Rocket Testing facility. Some of the rockets were huge. The town itself is very well set out – we passed 2 churches, a theatre, a supermarket, a heritage centre, outdoor entertainment precinct, tennis courts, swimming pool, etc. Mind you, we were a bit surprised to see just how many empty houses there were, but they were still well maintained and there was no evidence of any vandalism. At its peak 7,500 people lived in Woomera, now the population is down to several hundred. We talked to a local and she told us that all the land is owned by the Dept. of Defence and no property can be bought privately. All residents of the town either work within the town itself (shops, tourist venue etc.) or are working for the Defence Dept. She said it is a lovely quiet town – no-one locks their doors and everyone knows each other. Our walk took us over an hour or so and it was good exercise.
The street layout is rather different. All the streets are U-shaped and in different areas they all start with a similar letter, e.g. the town centre streets begin with B, another area has C and another starts with K.
The weather has become much more pleasant during the day, although the nights are still very cool. A low of 2 degrees is predicted for tomorrow morning!! We are not far from Roxby Downs where those feral demonstrators are causing a lot of trouble at the moment. However, it is more than 80kms from here so we should not be bothered by them.
We are all going to have an early night so that we can have an 8.00am start in the morning. We plan to be at Coober Pedy tomorrow. Should be interesting.
Love to all, Janese and Ian