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Outback SA Holiday Destinations & Towns
South Australia


Population: 402
Andamooka is South Australia's youngest outback opal mining town. It is 120 kilometres north of Woomera, west of Lake Torrens and noted for the quality of its investments and heirloom quality opals. Andamooka was opened up with the discovery of opal in 1930. The main fields are close to the town, where semi dug-out homes are common. The historical cottages, now on the national heritage register were the first semi dug-out permanent homes of the early miners and opal buyers. Local tours can include inspections of working mines and the historical cottages.


Population: 2103
Opal was discovered at Coober Pedy in 1315, today it is Australia's largest and oldest opal mining town, known the world over for the unusual underground lifestyle its inhabitants have been forced to adopt to escape the fierce summer heat.

Coober Pedy is on the main Stuart Highway. Its most notable feature is the moon-like landscape of opal mines, holes in the ground dug by several generations of miners and simply left there untended after being discarded. Care should be taken when walking around the area. The mines area is made up of around thirty working fields stretching outwards in a radius of up to fifty kilometres from the town.

There are certain rules of behaviour visitors should observe - including avoiding fossicking for opal in and around miner's claims. Ask permission before searching for opal in tailings heaps ('mullock' heaps).

Visitors can stay in a choice of underground accommodation.


Glendambo is a major service centre for travellers along the Stuart Highway between Woomera and Coober Pedy. It has a hotel-motel, roadhouse, general store, caravan park , camping area, and fuel outlet.


Innamincka grew around a hotel that serviced the early drovers who brought cattle down the Strzelecki Track. It is on the banks of the Cooper Creek and before federation of the Australian colonies in 1801, was a customs outpost where duty on goods coming into the colony was collected.

The ruins of the Australian Inland Mission hospital (1328) still stand in the town. Close to the spot where the Innamincka Hostel once stood, a large cairn with two memorial plaques commemorates the expeditions by Captain Charles Sturt (1844-45) and Burke and Wills (1860-61). Will's grave can be seen near Cooper Creek, west of the town and a memorial-to Burke's last resting place is along the creek to the east. Another historic spot is King's Marker, a memorial on the spot where John King, the sole survivor of Burke and Will's tragic expedition was found.


Population: 243
Marla is a major service centre on the Stuart Highway between Coober Pedy and the Northern Territory border. Roads from here lead to Mintabie opal fields and the Oodnadatta Track. The settlement has a hotel-motel, caravan park and camping area, food outlets, medi- clinic and is base for several government departments.


Population: 380
Its first name was Hergott Springs, and for a long time Marree was a staging post for the camel trains used to transport heavy goods north and south along the Oodnadatta and Birdsville Tracks. Until 1980 it was a major station along the Ghan Railway journey to Alice Springs. Today, it is a service centre for the enormous cattle stations in the area.


Population: 256
Mintabie is a small, opal mining area 33 kilometres west of Marla and 265 kilometres north of Coober Pedy. The fields were discovered in the early 1920s, when good deposits of black opal were found. Large scale mining operations dependent on earth-moving equipment opened the area up in the 1970s. The settlement is still small, however, and facilities for tourists are limited. Access to Mintabie requires a permit, available from the Police Stations at Marla and Alice Springs.


Population: 230
This is one of the few remaining outback towns that hasn't lost its character to the great god Progress. Its name stems from the Aborigine 'Utnadata' meaning 'blossom of the mulga.' The long cattle track that followed the trail of explorer John McDouall Stuart into Australia's dead heart bears its name.

Oodnadatta was an important railhead between 1891 and 1929. when the section of track to Alice Springs was completed. Until then camel train was the main form of transport to this central Australian settlement.

Oodnadatta is the starting point for trips into the Simpson Desert. The road from the town to the Stuart Highway and Cadney Homestead passes through the Painted Desert or the Arckaringa Hills.


Population: 15 291
The city of Port Augusta sits at the apex of Spencer Gulf and is known as the crossroads of Australia. the spot where flinders stepped ashore on March 10.

In the history of white settlement, the site was charted by Matthew Flinders in 1802 and was developed early on as a major port of export for the outback's wool, wheat and minerals.

Today, Port Augusta is a busy outback centre with a large power generation plant and railway workshops.


Population: 2,500
This modern town was established in the early 1980s to accommodate the staff of the giant uranium mining operation at Olympic Dam. A centre-piece is the Roxby Downs Motor Inn with its bedouin-like tent structure arching above the main complex.

Photo courtesy SATC

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