After so many days of hiking, I was glad when Jason told us that we’d have to drive more than 600 km on the Stuart Highway to get to Coober Pedy. That meant we’d be in the bus for hours and he couldn’t sneak in a hike even if he wanted to.
I was anticipating the long drive because that meant we’d get farther into Australia’s real Outback. We stopped at Woomera, a former military missile base, for lunch. It felt creepy because everything looked staged and sterile. We only saw a couple of people as we toured the town (more than Jason had ever seen before) even though there was supposedly a town full of residents.
At its peak, military and civilian workers occupied the town. However, since the base was decommissioned, the number of residents had declined dramatically. But is it really out of business? Woomera is one of those places where you get the feeling that top-secret research and experiments are taking place right under your nose. Maybe the government was covertly watching us and listening to everything we said?
Another stop on our epic bus trip was Lake Hart, a massive salt lake. It was just incredible to see that this lake went on forever. Because of the recent rains, the soil had mixed with the salt to become a red mushy silt. But, it was still cool to walk on it and hear the cracking of the salt layers. It almost felt like we were walking on Mars as the horizon stretched out in front of us and the lake bed was totally flat.
We continued driving north on Stuart Highway and arrived at a section that was fairly deserted. The only vehicles we’d seen were long-haul trucks, other tour buses and a couple of independent holidaymakers in their campervans. We pulled over at a crosswalk for some wacky photos. I’m sure you could lie in the middle of the road if you wanted to because it was that isolated.
Interestingly enough, this stretch of road could be used as a runway for airplanes. The area was so far from everything else that if an accident occurred, it’d literally take hours for police or paramedics to get there. In those situations, planes would be used to fly in the necessary authorities and medical help.
Yes, Australia truly is that big of a place.
|Slide Album: Stuart Highway Drive|