After exploring the Oodnadatta Track for a few days, we were looking for a change – less ruins, more natural beauty. While we’d enjoyed exploring the ruins and Old Ghan Railway artefacts, there comes a point where all the sidings and villages of rubble start to look the same. We’d heard great things about Innamincka and had already spent a night on the Cooper Creek at Windorah, so we were keen to see what the area had to offer.
Getting to Innamincka
We left the Oodnadatta track at Marree, heading south along The Outback Highway. Just south of Marree we found this guy, a large statue near a plaque commemorating the first expedition that crossed Australia from Adelaide to the Gulf.
We’d been told about the Farina bakery by a member of a forum we frequent. Armed with little more information than its existence, we set off to see what it was all about. As we neared Farina we started to doubt it existed, unable to see a trace of a town – let alone a bakery – from the highway! However, as we pulled into the crumbling township we were met with a bustle of activity reassuring us we were in the right place. Since 2009 volunteers have been working to restore the township of Farina, starting with the underground bakery. Taking a peek downstairs makes you appreciate just how hard – and hot – the work would have been there.
We made a quick stop at the Ochre Quarry north of Lyndhurst. The site is protected due to its significance to the Aboriginal people of the area. The colours of the ochre are impressive!
We stopped for fuel in Lyndhurst before heading to Innamincka. Because we were keen to camp at Innamincka for the night we didn’t make any stops along the Strzelecki Track, and appreciated the road was in great condition. Unexpectedly, there was excellent Telstra reception near the Moomba gas and oil field. It looked like a small city lit up in the night sky as we drove by!
We pulled into Innamincka Town Common after dark. We’d left from Coward Springs that day, having driven nearly 700 kilometres to reach Innamincka, thus we were keen to cook dinner and get a good night’s rest. The Town Common is a great spot to camp on the bank of the Cooper Creek. Coin-operated hot showers are available in town for $2, and camping is $5 per night by honesty box donation.
Innamincka is well-known for its significance in the Burke and Wills expedition, with the banks of the Cooper Creek being their ill-fated resting place. As a result, you’ll find many historic markers in the area. All markers are well signed, with the history of each site clearly documented.
After a big day of exploring we made the trek up to Coongie Lakes to camp. Coongie Lakes is something special, the kind of place photos can’t do justice. Consequently, it was one of our favourite camp sites on this trip. We found a secluded spot right on the lake perfect for relaxing, enjoying the birdlife, and taking in the spectacular sunsets and sunrises. While the tracks to get there were some of the roughest we encountered, it was certainly worth the drive.
The adventure continues
Leaving Coongie Lakes after only a night was bittersweet. But the adventure must go on! Because we only had limited time off work, we had no choice but to try to fit as much into the trip as we could. It was a compromise between seeing all that we wanted and taking the time to really relax and enjoy each place.
It was the guys from Stelonature Photography who’d given us the tip about Coongie Lakes. In addition, they also suggested we consider heading south through the Innamincka Regional Reserve, and between the gas fields and stations, to reach our next destination – Cameron Corner. This off-the-beaten-path track proved to be yet another highlight of the trip. If anyone is keen to retrace the route we took we’d be happy to share it with you. All tracks were easy to navigate using the Hema Explorer App.
We reached Cameron Corner much earlier than expected. Thanks to the time of day and overwhelming number of flies – far worse than anywhere else we’d been – we made the decision to push on and make camp somewhere in New South Wales instead.
Our time spent in Innamincka and the surrounding area was memorable. Coongie Lakes in particular is somewhere we plan to visit again, next time allowing for a longer stay so we can thoroughly explore all that it has on offer.
Have you travelled through Innamincka, or any of the other locations we’ve mentioned in this post? We’d love to hear about your experiences – feel free to leave us a comment below.