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April 5th 2009
Published: April 6th 2009
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Island LagoonIsland LagoonIsland Lagoon

At the Island Lagoon Lookout on the way to Woomera
DAY 149

The wind had calmed down during the night, we both slept really well once the wind had died down a lot. When we went to bed there were 5 of us camped out here, however when we woke up at 7.00 (as predicted) we looked out of the shutters and there were 7 of us.

It is a natural occurrence out here when looking for somewhere to pitch overnight, people generally go for safety in numbers, we decided to camp here as there were already 2 caravans here when we arrived yesterday afternoon, and we did ask if they minded if we pitched along side, they too were more than happy that more campers would join them agreeing that there is safety in numbers.

Not that things are particularly unsafe anywhere it is more the comfort factor and having other people around you. We have heard one or two other campers who have been alone and have been scared off a pitch by kids who have been beered up on a Friday night and just want to be a pain in the butt because they think it is fun. Plus people like us travelling in close

Lake Bed
proximity i.e. together 24/7 like to have other people to talk to other than each other.

We see a large number of women travelling alone and as long as everyone stays sensible about where they camp, things are more than fine, if you are uncertain, then move on.

Well, the clocks changed and we had an extra hour in bed, well we didn’t really, as predicted we did wake at 7.00, which would usually have been 8.00, the sun was bursting in and the landscape around us where the sun was coming up over the ranges in the distance. We could also see 3 lots of trucks in the truck stop, sorry, Road Trains that had pulled up in the night that we never heard.

So Andy got up to put the kettle on and I dutifully followed a few minutes later. Now with the clock change, this gets really confusing after a while, we changed time zones when we arrived in South Australia and the clocks went back half an hour and this morning Daylight Saving Ended so we went back an hour, I am not sure if Victoria also had the Daylight Saving, Perth do,

Town Mural
but I think that changed last weekend. Confused? Yes! We are now 8 ½ hours ahead of the UK also accounting for the Daylight Saving in the UK, which occurred during the last weekend in March (Phew!!).

Usual morning routine followed we spoke to our fellow campers and Andy helped Don to fix a plastic bezel on his Landcruiser, which Andy is in love with, the Landcruiser that is not Don!

Jane invited us over to their pitch for coffee before we pulled off and then Doreen said if we are coming for coffee then she will make some Pikelets (crumpets to some of us). With the tent and the truck all packed and ready to roll we popped over for morning coffee.

Of course it was not going to be a quick cup, because we all talk and we talked for ages about the roads, travel, immigration, politics, trucks, you know the usual stuff. We may even have mentioned the weather.

Just before we left we uploaded yesterdays blog, we had 5 bars on the Telstra service, but then we are a stones throw from a 100ft high mast. That done, we said our goodbyes

2x Lin Fox Road Trains
to Jane, Robert, Doreen and Don and said if Woomera was not that good we would come back later as we knew they would stay another night allowing a friend of theirs to catch up.

Off we went to Woomera, just as soon as we hit the bitumen you could see the road ahead was as straight as an arrow as far as you could see on the horizon and the heat shimmered on the bitumen just like it does in the movies, it was so hot you could not make out the vehicle coming toward you until it was close up.

We used the UHF to call out for a radio check to ensure that it was working, this will be the first time we have done this, but we needed to be sure that we could be heard if we broke down and also if you have a Road Train bearing down on you from behind he may want to contact you so that you can pull over for him to pass. We had a response from another user to say that our signal was clear, so we were happy.

This road, went on and
Road TrainRoad TrainRoad Train

These guys were having dinner
on, the flat terrain followed the railway track and a gas pipeline, the arid terrain gave way to the occasional tree and hill, we saw no wildlife but at one point we found ourselves driving through the middle of two salt flats, they were so white. Neither of us can believe there is so much salt on the ground here. Of course no water, there has not been enough rain in this part, which is amazing considering Queensland has been deluged.

We stopped at the Island Lagoon Lookout, this is worth a stop, the view ahead is amazing, the white salt flats shimmer in the heat. We also went past 3 or 4 more rest stops that have been noted in Camps 5, they all look ok, except they have no toilets like the one that we stayed at last night (502, Ranges View).

We turned off for Pimba and 7 more kilometres to Woomera, we could see Woomera shimmering on the horizon, we did not expect much here this is the outback after all. However we turn off the main highway into a thriving (but quiet - it is Sunday) community.

Woomera is famous for British
Dry LakeDry LakeDry Lake

All this is salt
secret rocket development, which started after the 2nd World War and was becoming more and more important during the cold war. Britain and Australia combined forces to develop various famous defence systems such as Bloodhound, Thunderbird and also did a lot of upper atmosphere tests and planetary investigation.

What is not mentioned that between 1957 and 1963, Britain tested 7 atomic bombs here on aboriginal land. Woomera was chosen because it was so far away from inhabitants.

We went to the Visitor Information Centre and found a modern building that also contained a bowling alley, café and museum. We asked if they would charge our Power Gorilla for us which they said they would. So while that was on charge Andy and I paid $6 each to look around the museum.

I have to say I got bored when I walked in through the door, not really my scene, however the display and the information was superb very well put together and every now and again there were interactive displays. Well worth a visit, even if you do get bored. Oh and the air conditioning making the room freezing cold did not help matters. At the end
A FlowerA FlowerA Flower

Taken in Woomera
of the day for something so historic and great scientific value could not be missed.

There is another history museum here, however it is closed on Sundays but at $3 per adult I think it would be well worth a visit. Outside the museum there are actual decommissioned rockets, planes, missiles, bombs etc on display for you to walk around, including what was left of a crashed satellite delivery system, a real boys day out.

Woomera is still used to this day for various experimental purposes, however it does have a population of 400 people.

We decided that we should get on the road, it was about 4.30 and we needed to put our bed up for the night, we were going to stop at the Pimba rest stop and then drive across cross country to Ceduna tomorrow, however we have been warned to take care on those roads as some may have washed away.

So once we checked out Pimba, it looked ok and would have been fine I am sure, however we decided that we should go back to Ranges View where we left our fellow campers this morning, something about familiarity and comfort.
Woomera Woomera Woomera

Rocket Display, this was a significan rocket range in from the late 40's
At Pimba we saw to Lin Fox Road Trains parked up, one thing about these monsters is that they are not like the old days with some beat up old truck, they are state of the art air conditioned, televisions, huge sleepers and these two had 16 axles each.

On the way back we saw a train and we pretty much followed the train back. As our road speed was slightly faster than the train it gave us opportunity to get ahead and stop for a vantage point so we could count the carriages. There were 82 carriages all with double-stacked containers on them and 2 engines working in tandem, no wonder it was slow going.

One thing that we have noticed is that sometimes on the road other drivers will wave, we are not sure if we are part of some club, as there does not seem to be any discretion on the type of vehicle you drive, maybe we just look the part.

Andy tried this morning to wave to people, but most did not wave back. However this evening when I was driving back, people kept waving at me, I did not instigate this, what made Andy more annoyed is that I got all the Truckers waving at me too!

The scenery was more stunning on the way back, I guess the light was just right and the sun that was slowly fading made the earth look redder. The rest stops that we passed earlier we noticed had no campers at all, not sure if this is because there are not toilets.

On the horizon we could see the familiar Telstra mast, and before long the sign was there for our turning to the rest area and as I took the turn I could see, Jane, Robert, Doreen, Don and their friends watching and wave as pulled in, we also saw 5 trailers pitched here for the night.

They came over and said, “We knew you would be back, you should have left the trailer, we said all afternoon that you would be back”. We laughed

Doreen, gave me a glass of Cowboys, this is a bit similar to Kahlua mixed with milk or perhaps a Bailey’s. She said she was having one herself and it would be rude of her to drink alone. I agreed and gratefully accepted. This having the bonus that it is a very warming drink to have when the nights here get so cool.

Andy cooked me a great dinner tonight. We cannot be bothered to wash up tonight so we put the bowl inside the truck ready to do in the morning.

We ate in the tent and now I am sat typing the blog, the wind has died down completely.

About 30 minutes ago, we heard a truck labouring up the hill, It was dark so we ran outside to see what was coming and there it was, our first 4 trailer Road Train. The lights looked fantastic as it drove past and disappeared into the darkness. Andy counted 19 axles.

We will finish this up and have a game of cards; I believe Andy has some payback for me.

Until tomorrow bloggers.

Additional photos below
Photos: 14, Displayed: 14


The road to WoomeraThe road to Woomera
The road to Woomera

Not alot around here
Setting SunSetting Sun
Setting Sun

The Sun going down after a hot outback day, we were expecting a cold night
Out of siteOut of site
Out of site

The road just went on for miles

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