Travelling Australia - Journal 2009
1 June 2009 - Port Augusta to Roxby Downs
The morning was sunny and cold as we connected caravan and Pathfinder and drove out of Port Augusta bound for Roxby Downs which is the residential town for the large gold-copper-uranium-silver mine at Olympic Dam.

The highway had a generally good surface, two full-width lanes and mostly long straight runs. Weather remained good for travelling all day, mostly sunny at first with increasing cloud at lunchtime and a cool breeze. At first the road remains around 100 metres elevation then climbs to be above 200 metres for a while before descending to Roxby Downs (at about 100 metres elevation).

The Stuart Highway initially runs through the low bluebush plain around Port Augusta, then bluebush was joined by a variety of shrubs and small trees until the ground was covered by continuous scrub. By the time we stopped at Ranges View Lookout 60 kilometres from Port Augusta we were on gibber plain which supports lots of stones and scattered Pearl Bluebush. According to signage at this lookout the property runs Merino sheep for wool and meat; we saw a few sheep from the road today but no more than a handful.
Ranges View South from Ranges View Lookout about 60 km north of Port Augusta. The low and sparse foreground vegetation is typical of gibber plains.
The gibber plain was replaced by red sand by the time we stopped 40 kilometres further on. Mulga was dominant, with rosewood at a lower level and a partial ground cover of saltbush and bluebush.
Red Sand Vegetation Vegetation on red sand contains an upper layer of mulga, a lower layer of acacias and hops, and saltbush ground cover.
We stopped for lunch at a large rest area overlooking Island Lagoon. By now we had got used to the fact that usually dry lakes all had water in them after rain about a week ago. Island Lagoon was no exception.

At Pimba (comprising Spuds Roadhouse and half a dozen assorted run-down adjacent premises) we turned off the Stuart Highway onto the Roxby Downs/Olympic Dam road which took us first past Woomera then on to Roxby Downs.

For the first 35 kilometres this road passed over monotonous gibber plain with minimal low vegetation and many stones. The only variation was in two power lines which converged on the road from the right, crossed over, and continued roughly parallel to the road on the left. Then, suddenly we were among red sand ridges with cypress growing on them and scattered cypress and shrubs in the flat swales between ridges. As we drew closer to Roxby Downs the vegetation on the dunes became less healthy looking. We also crossed another gibber plain which stressed the difference between the two landforms. Sand ridges returned for the last 10 kilometres into Roxby but they lacked the grandeur of those we had seen first.
Island Lagoon Island Lagoon lake containing water.
The GPS (with the destination address entered before leaving Port Augusta) did a good job. Arriving at the selected caravan park we set up on a reasonable site; wide and long enough and nearly flat but without a blade of grass or any other vegetation on it. After basic setting up (disconnect from Pathfinder, level van, connect services) we drove to the information office to see what was available in addition to what we had already found out about Roxby Downs.
daily map