Day 1. The road to nowhere.
21 August 2021. Word by Andy Le Roy. Images by Creolumen
Reclining on the double bed, adjacent to the single bed we didn’t need but paid for to avoid any conversation about our relationship, I ponder with gratitude that we’re able to travel.
The guests occupying the rooms upstairs have kindly cranked up the volume to whatever they’re listening to. Grouse.
Two lessons learned today: never tell a travel agent “oh, just something cheap will do… it’s only one night,” and if you have to forfeit $95 because your revised itinerary is in another region, it’s probably just as well to cut your losses.
The drive to Woomera is long, and as a destination, it’s an interesting place to pass through if you’re into aircraft, rockets and space junk.
Our accommodation is B A S I C, and there’s nothing to do in town after dark except watch your $400 telly in the budget motel room you skimped on, Moneybags. Pro tip: the motel rooms have a privilege the campers don't have- access to the pizzeria, which we were asked to make sure we locked when exiting so the campers don’t get in. We passed on the pizzeria. We’re not sure what's inside. We suspect it’s a kettle and a toaster oven.
This is why I’m not a destination road-tripper. I like to see what’s to see along the way. It’s not always about the destination.
Heading north from Adelaide we had a brief stop at Lake Bumbunga. Think Cowabunga, but with a bum. It's in Loch-Eel, and it’s pink, and the colours and patterns around the lake are beautiful tracings of silver and tan around its edge. There’s a Loch Ness monster type creature that rises from the water which I suspect is, in fact, the loch’s eel. A large frame by the lake made for passers by to snap a photo was too much to pass up before the road, and our final destination for the day was calling. Final Destination was a crappy horror movie franchise, wasn’t it?
Up the Stuart Highway we passed Port Pirie and Port Germein. Wind farms stretch for miles through the vibrant green countryside, and as we approached Port Augusta, we were struck by a bright light in the distance. It wasn't the second coming. Coal powered generation is a thing of the past in the region and there’s now a tower which is lit by mirrors that surround it. This is Port Augusta’s solar farm. It’s encouraging to see how much the renewable energy sector is growing in the state’s mid north, powering South Australia with sustainable resources.
North of Port Augusta the countryside becomes arid, but not dull. The earth takes on redder tones and small desert shrubs fill the fields that roll by. The occasional salt pan and sheep add to the roadside display on the road to Pimba, only a stone’s throw from Woomera.
Woomera's observatory opens most Friday nights, so we’re out of luck there, and the museum was closed, as you might expect at five-ish on a Saturday afternoon. The sunset was rich with colour, and a nice end to the day's drive. Pink fading upwards to a mauve sky, in which the full moon sits.
The food at the local hotel was good, and tomorrow is another day.
In case you’re wondering, the face washers are $10 each if you’re thinking of taking a souvenir. Side plates, dessert bowls and spoons all have their price, as do the fan heater, bath mat and towels. There's a whole menu of household gods stuck to the wall. The Hyatt could learn a thing or two.
The TV is $400, but you already knew that. We’ve had Bob Dylan’s Hurricane, Hotel California and now a thumping tune of some description, and the night is only a pup.
The owner just turned up and told them to turn it down. Party pooper.