South Australia is the fourth largest state in Australia and is divided into eight regions: Adelaide, Surrounding Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, Limestone Coast, Yorke Peninsula, Murray River, Flinders Ranges & Outback, Eyre Peninsula, and the Nullarbor. The capital of South Australia is Adelaide, which is the fifth-largest city in Australia.
Kangaroo Island is one of the most popular destinations for tourists, and it was high on our bucket list. However, when we arrived in Australia, we did not know that our trip to Kangaroo Island would be postponed for so long. As we landed in December of 2019, the terrible bushfires were raging all over Australia. And Kangaroo Island was highly affected, so we decided to postpone our trip there for later.
Our journey first led us along the east coast of Australia. Then thanks to COVID, we drove down the Explorer’s Way, from Darwin in the Northern Territory to the Flinders Ranges in South Australia.
But postponed does not mean canceled! After Tasmania, and a short stop in Melbourne to play more golf, we traveled along the Great Ocean Road and entered South Australia once more!
Outback South Australia
Coming down from the Northern Territory, we had already more or less got used to the scorching heat. So, the idea of staying in Coober Pedy for a day or two didn’t seem quite as daunting to me as it did in the beginning.
We filled out our border pass that was required due to COVID so that we would be allowed to cross the border from NT into SA. At the border checkpoint, everything went smoothly, and the police just waved us through.
However, we really wanted to take a photo of us in front of the Welcome to SA sign, so we parked Putu in South Australia, and walked back into the Northern Territory. We had a very nice small chat with the officer, and also got our photo!
Now we could continue! Our first stop:
Our Onward Journey in the Outback
What fantastic days we had in Coober Pedy! Our planned two-day stay quickly changed to four and we really took our time exploring this quirky little town.
Afterward, we were looking forward to our next adventure, so we started our drive towards Flinders Ranges National Park. A very long journey was ahead of us. Over 700 km to be precise!
When we were about 3 hours south of Coober Pedy, still 14km from Glendambo, a town that really is in the middle of nowhere, James noticed the engine was overheating. So, we stopped on the side of the road. We called the mechanic that we had been to while in Alice Springs and asked for his advice. “Let the engine cool for 30 to 40 minutes and then drive on” was his reply. We waited and did not know what was happening with Putu. After 40 minutes we drove on, only to have to stop again after only 1.5 km. The engine was beginning to overheat again.
We figured out that the fan that cools the engine wasn’t working. And that the mechanic who should have replaced our old fan belt in Alice Springs hadn’t done the job. We could see that the belt was torn! So we waited 40 minutes and tried it again.
We spent the rest of the day stopping every 1.5 km to let the engine cool. Finally, an Australian drove by, and towed us to the next gas station, which was in Glendambo! We had lost all day, and worse yet, we were really in the middle of nowhere! Unfortunately, no one could help us in Glendambo, and as was already late, we had to spend the night at the gas station until we were towed again the next day.
Detour to Roxby Downs
Our first days in South Australia after Coober Pedy, were not quite as we had imagined them. But what can you do! The closest town with a mechanic was Roxby Downs. Roxby Downs is 197 km away from Glendambo- a 197 km that was not at all on our route! We wanted to go to Port Augusta, but that was 287 km away. And only anything within 200 km was covered by our insurance. We asked if we could pay the extra charge, but unfortunately, it was denied. We watched Putu get loaded onto the bed of the tow truck and drive down the highway.
Putu was on his way to Roxby Downs, and we weren’t allowed to ride along, 1.5 meters social distancing and such! So, we had to organize our own trip to Roxby Down, conveniently located at the end of the world! Glendambo has 2 million flies, 22,500 sheep, and 20 citizens! Where should we get an Uber here!
A Streak of Bad Luck
We asked the gas station owner if there would be someone that might be able to help us get to Roxby Downs. He said that if we paid for his petrol, he could take us after his shift. What luck!!
He drove us, and we actually arrived in Roxby Downs before Putu did. We were just in time to see that Putu had been removed from the bed of the tow truck down and was now being pulled behind the tow truck.
I could not believe my eyes! My mind was buzzing with anger, but I swallowed my tongue. I really had to pull myself together when I saw that Putu’s front light had been broken. And there was no front light available in Roxby Downs. But at least our broken fan belt was replaced, and we left Roxby Downs quite annoyed.
The front light was going to be delivered to Port Augusta. But the delivery of the light itself took an exceptionally long time, and we were stuck in Port Augusta for a whole week.
Armed with a new fan belt and front light, we were excited to finally be able to continue our trip through South Australia!
Flinders Ranges National Park
On the drive from Roxby Downs to Port Augusta, we had made a short stop in Woomera. There was a Rocket Park there that we looked at.
We continued through the small town of Quorn, where we would have a house sit that would begin in one week. Quorn is a cute town with such a sweet little tearoom, so we went had to stop to enjoy a coffee and cake.
Tip: in Quorn, there is a wonderful light show, which is also free! Don’t miss it when you’re in the area! Quorn Silo Light Show
From Quorn, it wasn’t too far to our destination. We drove about one and a half hours and finally arrived in the Flinders Ranges National Park!
Here we witnessed our first sandstorm, saw ancient Aboriginal rock art, and took many day trips to the surrounding areas.
Lockdown in South Australia
Because of Putu’s mechanical issues, we had already been relatively long in South Australia but had only been able to see Coober Pedy and the Flinders Ranges. Which why we were excited that we would explore Quorn next, and then drive to Adelaide and its surroundings. While we were in Port Augusta, we met a very nice young man from Adelaide, who recommended many vegetarian restaurants and cheap food places. We were eager to try them all out. But sometimes the unexpected happens!
South Australia had been largely spared from the COVID lockdowns. But it sounded like this was going to end now. The day before our departure to Quorn, we received an email from our second house sit in Adelaide. Their holiday had been canceled because a case had occurred in Adelaide. Then, on the morning we were supposed to leave the Flinders, we received a call from Quorn! She also had to cancel! We couldn’t believe it and didn’t know what to do.
Our house sit that was supposed to start in just a few hours was canceled and continuing down to Adelaide was out of the question. So, we decided to leave SA and go to Victoria. We were driving for an hour when we heard on the radio that South Australia was going to go into a lockdown at midnight! Phew, we had made the right decision. Our trip through SA wasn’t meant to be. Not this time anyway. But we would be back!
Back to Victoria
We came back to Victoria and stayed there for two weeks. After playing golf at St Andrews Beach, we took the ferry to Tasmania. We spent almost four months in Tassie before coming back to Melbourne. We wanted to work on our golf list: so, we played Royal Park, Kingston Heath Golf Club, and Sandringham Golf Links. James also played The National. Only Royal Melbourne avoided us, so we made our way towards South Australia again, this time via the Great Ocean Road!
Crossing back into South Australia went smoothly, without any border controls. But we had forgotten again that you can not bring fruit, vegetables, honey, etc. So, unfortunately, our honey ended up in the waste bin provided at the border.
Tip: if you still have vegetables, cook and pack them into containers and put them in your refrigerator, because cooked veggies are allowed.
South Australia, our Second Time
We crossed the border from Victoria to South Australia relatively late, so we decided to spend the night at a nearby free campsite. Directly on the sea and free of charge, what more could you ask for. When we arrived, we were pleasantly surprised. Clean toilets, hardly any cars, and we could hear the sound of the ocean.
Our first leg took us over the so-called Limestone Coast, along the Southern Ocean Drive. Our route took us from Mount Gambier via Beachport, to Robe and Kingston SE. Here in our Limestone Coast blog, you can read what we did.
If you think that the Limestone Coast is all South Australia has to offer in terms of beaches and great beach towns, then you’re completely wrong. The Fleurieu Peninsula region boasts so many beautiful beaches that we were honestly a bit overwhelmed. We explored as much as possible in the time we had and more than enjoyed the peninsula. From wine regions to breweries to dream beaches: everything was there and we have summarized our best tips and recommendations for the Fleurieu Peninsula here.
We also had the pleasure to catch up with Taryn from Lets Get Lost to learn more about her and her beautifully designed rugs.
To be continued…