Starting point for my foray across the atomic roads network built by the Gunbarrel Road Construction Party was the South Australian coastal town of Ceduna, roughly 2,500km from home. I allowed myself four days for the trip that would take in some great Australian outback areas including the Darling River run, across the western NSW mining area of Broken Hill and across the scenic Eyre Peninsular.
The first days’ drive was familiar given that we took the same route to Brewarrina on the way to our Madigan Line crossing trip only two months earlier. I camped for the night at the same area but found a much nicer site right on bank of the Barwon River.
Day 2 took in some new roads as I took opportunity to do my own version of a Darling River Run, following this great inland river course that was plied by paddle steamers for much of the late 1800s and which was pivotal in opening up of the western NSW interior.
Unfortunately the route I would have chosen was blocked or damaged by floodwater, created by the rain in south east Queensland back in April/May and which was only now finding its way this far down Australia’s largest water catchment system.
Eventually I picked a route from Bourke to Louth, onward to Tilpa before leaving the Darling at Wilcannia. The drive gave me a great taste for the area but to dig into its rich history would require a slower trip with stays at the many river port towns.
My original plan was to stop near Broken Hill, a town that I’d like to show to Suzzanne including the surrounding area, but for now I pushed on because the free camps were crowded or too near to the highway for my liking, so I contunued into South Australia.
Eventually I settled on a great little free camping area at Mingary, an old railway siding on the Transcontinental railway line. I found the site on the Wikicamps app, easily identified by the old steel water tank that once serviced steam trains using the line. After exploring the area I set up behind a copse of trees well away from the highway and railway line.
Day 3 started with a chilly -2 degrees as the dawn light revealed white frost over the car and camper. With icy fingers I packed up and was glad to get into warmth of the Cruiser as I continued westward.
The run across South Australia was scenic in places, especially when weaving through the lower Flinders Ranges approaching Port Augusta, and again when crossing the Eyre Peninsular to meet the Southern Ocean coastline.
Eventually tonight’s camp was reached at a Hipcamp called Coodlie Camping Reserve, near Talia on the South Australian coast. It was a quiet, secure and well serviced bush camping area that would make for a great stopping point to explore the Eyre Peninsular.
From Talia it was only a few hours drive to reach Ceduna, final destination for this transit stage to start of the Coast to Coast expedition. I was pleasantly surprised by how tidy and scenic Ceduna proved to be, I was expecting an industrial fishing port but found a seaside town that was nicely landscaped and which had plenty of facilities. While in Ceduna I planned to refuel and stock up on fresh produce that I couldn’t bring into South Australia due to its strict quarantine laws.
So ends this long transit stage to start point for a three week adventure, retracing roads constructed under leadership of Len Beadell for the infamous atomic bomb and missile testing program that literally rocked inland Australia in the 1950s and 60s.
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