We left Coober Pedy about 9am, heading north for Erldunda Roadhouse in the Northern Territory. It was a long, seemingly straight, drive ahead, as evidenced by the GPS and road photos.
We stopped for fuel and morning tea at Marla, as well as a break from the driving for a while. Setting off from Marla, we looked forward to getting to the NT border, as the end of the trip would be in sight. The border was easy to spot on approach, courtesy of the signage. The actual signs on the border itself were the best we have seen to date.
Immediately, we were faced with very unfamiliar road signs … long road trains and higher speed limits.
A short while later, we stopped by the Kulgera Roadhouse, and took the opportunity to view the famed shoe tree – although we’re not entirely sure why.
We arrived in the Northern Territory en route to Erldunda Roadhouse for a one night stopover, before heading out to Yulara for a couple of days. Erldunda Roadhouse provided a great stopover before turning west. In our case we had done nearly 500 km with our van, “Roe’ving”, to get there and to set up camp for the night.
While checking in at reception, we were offered an opportunity to join a small select group in a special function that very evening to enjoy some wine, nibbles and stargazing with James (Jimmy, aka Starman) Barclay, an astronomer (and owner of the Kingaroy Observatory in Queensland). This was to be the inaugural stargazing event from the site, and James was there to train some of the roadhouse staff to run these stargazing events in the future on a regular basis.
The Erldunda Roadhouse tagline is ‘The Centre of the Centre’ of Australia – and if remoteness is any indication, it fills the criteria. The campground facilities provided are more than adequate and we chose to stay in an unpowered site, given we had plenty of power and water onboard Roe’ving.
Back to the offer to be part of an evening of star gazing with James Barclay … This was the initiative of the owners of the Roadhouse. Tony, the CEO and part owner of the Erldunda Roadhouse and other remote roadhouses across the Nullarbor, was there to meet guests and to outline the background behind bringing the stargazing opportunity to guests at the Erldunda Roadhouse. The night sky there is incredible, with more stars visible than most city dwellers would believe possible. Our understanding is that the Roadhouse is going to provide the opportunity to gaze at the stars on a regular basis. We really enjoyed the opportunity to look at planets, stars and nebula while also meeting other travellers.
Thanks again to Tony and crew of the Erldunda Roadhouse for a very memorable welcome to the Northern Territory.