Tour Description

Opals, Ore and Lake Eyre

(Combined Adelaide and South Coast Departure)
Seven Days: 6th – 12th August 2021

Twin Share: $3295 per person. Sole Use: $3695 per person.

Included in the tour:

  • Home pick-ups & set downs (most metro areas – please contact us for details)
  • Picnic-style morning teas & all meals as per the itinerary
  • All accommodation & admissions to all attractions
  • Experienced & informative tour driver/guide.

 

Come on a journey of discovery and adventure, where we explore the outback of South Australia in search of its best gems! We visit Coober Pedy where the pursuit of opal is the entire reason for the town’s existence. We take a flight over Lake Eyre to see this incredible salt lake stretching out below us, which includes a stop at the famous William Creek outback pub. We explore the town of Woomera, where rockets were once tested in secret with high levels of security and visit the young and modern town of Roxby Downs built for the nearby Olympic Dam copper, gold and uranium mine. Join us on this tour of an area as beautiful and unique as the opals to be found here!

 

Day On– FRIDAY 6 AUGUST 2021

(includes light lunch and two course dinner)

We depart this morning after completing home pick-ups (limited areas*) for our journey to the South Australian Outback!  We leave the suburbs of Adelaide and pause for morning tea at Roseworthy as we journey to the Clare Valley. We drive past beautiful vineyards, through Auburn and Clare, continuing north to the  Old Bakery Stone Hut where we stop to enjoy refreshments.

After lunch we continue north through Melrose,  situated in the shadow of Mount Remarkable and the oldest town in the Flinders Ranges, before proceeding to Wilmington. Here, we detour west onto Horrocks Pass to take a scenic drive through the ranges.

Late afternoon we arrive in Port Augusta and our accommodation for tonight at the Standpipe Golf Motor Inn (Ph. 08 8642 4033). Here we can relax in our rooms before our evening meal.

Day Two – SATURDAY 7 AUGUST  2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

We leave Port Augusta this morning for our drive to Coober Pedy, the opal capital of the world.

Our journey first takes us to Pimba, a small settlement on the transcontinental railway line. We have our morning tea here before heading off on the road once more.

Travelling along the Stuart Highway we arrive in Glendambo for lunch. A friendly outback town, Glendambo provides essential services for travellers into South Australia’s Outback.

Our afternoon journey takes us through this ever-changing landscape with its unique and rugged beauty, pausing along the way for the opportunity to break the journey and stretch our legs.

We arrive in Coober Pedy late afternoon. This remarkable town credits its existence to the opal discovered in the area in 1915. Originally known as Stuart Range Opal Field, the name was changed officially in 1920, taken from two Aboriginal words meaning ‘white man in a hole’. We check into our accommodation for the next three nights at the Desert Cave Motel (Ph: 08 8642 4033).

Day Three – SUNDAY 8 AUGUST 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

After breakfast this morning we depart Coober Pedy for one of the highlights of our tour, a scenic flight over Lake Eyre.  We have a bird’s eye view of the Coober Pedy township, dugouts and opal mines before flying over the breathtaking Painted Hills, only accessible by air due to the remote and fragile nature of the site. The flight will be conducted at a height low enough to experience the intricate details of the beautifully eroded shelf that once belonged to the great inland sea. The Painted Hills are located on Anna Creek Cattle Station, the worlds largest station at 24 thousand square kilometres, slightly larger than Israel! We will also catch a glimpse of Oz Mineral’s largest copper and gold mine, Prominent Hill.

As we fly over Lake Eyre, we pass the gibber shelf on the western shoreline of Belt Bay which is the lowest geographical point in Australia at 15 metres below sea level. We continue over Silcrete Island and some of the eroded peninsulas that jut out into the salt bed, Jackboot Bay and over the southern end of The Warburton Groove, before flying over the Halligan Bay viewing station. We land at William Creek to enjoy lunch at the famous hotel before we take a scenic flight back.

We set down in Coober Pedy early afternoon and have the opportunity to relax or explore the local area before coming together at the end of the day for dinner.

Day Four – MONDAY 9 AUGUST 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

This morning we journey out to Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park. This park covers 15 thousand hectares and features majestic arid scenery, is home to over 60 native flora species and a variety of wildlife. One of the more well known features of the park is ‘The Breakaways’, so named because the low hills look like they have broken away from the Stuart Ranges. The lookouts offer great viewing points of the hills that have featured in a number of movies.

As we return to Coober Pedy we will pass the dog fence, a two metre high wire barrier which stretches over 5,000 kilometres across three states. Its purpose is to protect the sheep country in the south from the native dingo.

Following morning tea, we visit Tom’s Working Opal Mine, an underground mine where a guide gives us an insight into what it is like to be an opal miner. During the tour we see opal seams in the wall and learn how a blower and a tunnelling machine work.

We enjoy lunch at a local café before visiting the Umoona Opal Mine Museum, an original opal mine that was first worked in the 1920s and has now been converted into a ‘must see’ underground tourist attraction. Here we can learn and understand how opal is formed and mined, view an award-winning documentary ‘The Story of Opal’, and see a cutting and polishing demonstration including an explanation of the different types and quality of opal. The museum also covers Coober Pedy’s Indigenous  heritage, geology and fossil history and the shop stocks a large range of opals, exquisite jewellery and souvenirs.

This afternoon we will tour the town and its unique underground buildings such as the Serbian Orthodox Church, an inspiring structure with rock carvings in the walls, a high roof and stained glass windows.

Before returning to our accommodation this evening, we visit Coober Pedy’s newest attraction—The Big Winch 360°. This world class attraction is the first permanent 360° Circlevision cinematic experience in Australia. The audience is immersed in the vision and sounds of the outback and it’s a fascinating way to discover more about this region and landscape.

We return to our motel with time to freshen up before our last dinner in Coober Pedy.

Day Five – TUESDAY 10 AUGUST 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

Upon leaving Coober Pedy we travel south along the Stuart Highway, which stretches from Port Augusta all the way to Darwin. The highway was named after the explorer John McDouall-Stuart who, on his third attempt, led the first successful expedition from Adelaide to the northern coast of Australia in 1862.

After morning tea in Glendambo, we continue to Woomera. This outback town was established in 1947 as a site for weapons testing, satellite launches and tracking of early lunar and planetary spacecraft. Access to the town was restricted to the public until 1982 when it was opened up to all.

We enjoy our lunch before taking some time to explore this remarkable town and discover more about its fascinating history.

From Woomera it is just over an hour’s journey to the desert oasis of Roxby Downs, nestled amongst rich red sand dunes and native pine. This town was established to support the workers of the Olympic Dam Mine just north of Roxby. Most people know of Olympic Dam due to its production of uranium, but the mine also produces significant amounts of copper, gold and silver.

On arrival in Roxby we settle into our accommodation at the Roxby Downs Motor Inn (Ph: 8671 0311).

Day Six – WEDNESDAY 11 AUGUST 2021

(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)

Roxby Downs is a relatively young and modern town  and this morning we take a closer look. We begin at the town’s Cultural Precinct and Information Centre where we view two short films, one on the Olympic Dam Mine and the other on the Arid Recovery Centre.

After morning tea, we set off for a completely different kind of mining area at Andamooka. The town was built around the search for opal, which was first discovered in 1930 by two boundary riders from Andamooka Station. It is still one of the world’s major sources of precious opals and is where the famous Andamooka Opal was found, which was presented to Queen Elizabeth II in 1954 on the occasion of her first visit to South Australia. A local takes us on a guided tour around this amazing town and we discover the difference between the Andamooka opals and those found in Coober Pedy. Our tour also includes a browse through the Andamooka Opal Showroom which mines, cuts, polishes and manufactures opal jewellery.

We return to Roxby Downs for free time before late afternoon, when we make our way to a lookout. At sunset, we will be able to see the surface of the mine site light up. Each year this operation mines millions of tonne of ore, and from looking at the surface buildings and machinery we can get an idea of just how big the mine is. We return to our accommodation for dinner on the final night of our tour.

Day Seven – THURSDAY 12 AUGUST 2021

(includes cooked breakfast and two course lunch)

We depart Roxby this morning, destined for home. Today will be a day of driving, and it will be fascinating to see how the scenery and countryside changes dramatically throughout the day.

Arriving at Pimba, we stop to stretch our legs and enjoy a cuppa before joining the Stuart Highway once again. Heading south, we make our way towards Port Augusta, following close to the railway line. The ranges of the Flinders make a wonderful backdrop as we drive.

We make a quick comfort stop before progressing to Crystal Brook where we enjoy lunch at the local hotel.

This afternoon’s drive continues south until we are in more familiar territory, passing through the northern suburbs of Adelaide. As we journey towards home, we reflect on our outback adventure and the wonderful, unique experiences of Coober Pedy, Lake Eyre and Roxby Downs.