Travel with us on a tour of a lifetime. This tour travels south from Birdsville through some of the most iconic explorer country in Australia. Encompassing both the Birdsville Track and the Oodnadatta Track, we will take you on a journey that allows you to see both the Desert and Channel Country at its finest. We will visit the magnificent phenomenon that is Lake Eyre as well as Coober Pedy, Opal Capital of the World.
All accommodation is twin share (except when camping) – single supplement applies ($500pp)
Itineraries are subject to change depending on weather and road conditions. Whilst your guide will always try to run to the scheduled itinerary, it may at times be necessary to change the itinerary slightly to ensure passengers safety.
Due to the nature of our tours, we recommend you bring clothing that is suitable to the destination including swimming gear and comfortable walking shoes; along with your required toiletries, a towel, camera and extra money for snacks, alcohol or activities.
You should also bring a small day pack with hat, sunscreen, water bottle, torch and insect repellent (Bushmans).
We also recommend you bring any medication and/or motion sickness tablets (if required),
We would also like you to bring your own pillow, because everyone likes their own pillow, and a sleeping bag to suit the climate you are travelling through.
Your baggage must be limited to one (1) duffel-style bag (max. 60ltr) per person for your clothing and personal effects; along with one (1) soft duffel-style bag for your sleeping bag and pillow.
DAY 1: Birdsville (D)
Guests arrive into Birdsville from their home ports. You will be met by our tour guides and transferred to your overnight accommodation in Birdsville.
This afternoon we’ll visit some of the local sites in and around Birdsville, followed by sunset on top of Big Red at the edge of the Simpson Desert, with light refreshments before we dine at the famous Birdsville Hotel.
Prior to federation in 1901, Birdsville was used as a collection point for a toll that was payable on all stock and supplies entering South Australia from Queensland. It was a thriving community then still is now.
Today, around 110 people call Birdsville home, except for two weeks each year when it plays host to the Big Red Bash and the Birdsville Races where it swells to 10,000 people.
For such a small town, it has excellent infrastructure, a geothermal power station provides the town’s electricity, with natural gas and diesel generators brought online during peak periods. Birdsville has two sources of water: the Great Artesian Basin and the Diamantina River.
Accommodation: Birdsville Hotel
DAY 2: Mungerannie 315km (B,L,D)
We set off from Birdsville, travelling south along the infamous Birdsville Track across the Sturt Stony Desert.
The Birdsville Track is an icon amongst Australian outback tracks, covering 517km of remote harsh outback country. The track was established in the 1860s and was once the main stock route to bring cattle from central Queensland to the railway in Marree.
In those days the track had a grim reputation, many people and mobs of cattle lost their lives. Tom Kruse, the most famous of the mailmen on the track, had to fight many battles with the harsh conditions, to bring much needed supplies from Maree to Birdsville. The Birdsville Track is rich in history and tragedy.
We’ll stopover at the Page Family Memorial, which was established on Clifton Hill Station in memory of the Page Family, who perished on the Birdsville track in 1963.
Our destination tonight is Mungarannie, a tiny place on the edge of the Sturt Stony, Tirari, Simpson and Strzelecki Deserts, nestled beside the Derwent Creek. It is home to an established waterhole and local wetlands which provides a habitat for 110 bird species, thanks to a permanent artesian bore fed from the Great Artesian Basin, has established a waterhole and local wetlands which provides a habitat for 110 bird species.
After a refreshing beverage at the Mungerannie Hotel, we will retire to our campsite for a campfire dinner under the spectacular outback night sky.
Accommodation: Mungerannie Campsite
DAY 3: William Creek 406km (B,L,D)
Today we’ll continue along the Birdsville Track, bordering the Strzelecki and Tirari Deserts. We’ll pass the ruins at Mulka and Lake Harry before stopping for lunch at Marree.
Marree is the perfect image of a tiny outback town. It is frequented by four-wheel-drive enthusiasts taking on the legendary Birdsville and Oodnadatta tracks. The settlement was established in 1872 as a camp for the Overland Telegraph Line as it was being constructed, and also became a railhead for the Great Northern Railway (which was later known as the Ghan). The town soon serviced all travellers and workers heading north, including the famous Afghan traders who drove their camel trains into the desert and played a significant role in opening up the outback.
We’ll pay a visit to the Marree Heritage Park which includes Tom Kruse’s truck that once carried out the famous outback mail run on the Birdsville Track in the 1950s.
After lunch, our journey today takes us along the Oodnadatta Track. The Oodnadatta Track leads through deep-red gibber plains covered with saltbush. There are a number of abandoned railway sidings and lookouts along the journey.
Callana railway siding (R.S.), just 14 km out of Marree, is the first of many relics of the Old Ghan railway line. Today, a rusty water tower and pipe is all that is left. These railway sidings were watering places for the steam locomotives of the Old Ghan railway. Settlers lived in small cottages at the sidings and maintained the site as well as the railway line between the sidings.
The next highlight is Lake Eyre South Lookout.
Lake Eyre, in the Lake Eyre National Park around 700 kilometres north of Adelaide, is an extraordinary oasis in the harsh South Australian outback. The Lake Eyre Basin covers an astonishing 1 million square kilometres and crosses the borders of South Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland.
Lake Eyre itself, which is actually two lakes connected by a channel, is 144 km long and 77 km wide. It’s the largest salt lake in Australia, but one that is rarely filled with water. The Lake Eyre region is also the driest and lowest geographical point in Australia.
Our overnight stay is at The William Creek Hotel. Enjoy the service and hospitality that this historic “tin shed” has to offer.
William Creek is the entry point from Coober Pedy to Lake Eyre in the Tirari Desert. The world’s largest cattle station is located at nearby Anna Creek Station and the Woomera Prohibited Area, former testing ground for atomic weapons, is also nearby.
Accommodation: William Creek Hotel
DAY 4: Coober Pedy 166km (B,L,D)
This morning after an early breakfast we’ll go on a flight over Lake Eyre with Wrightsair.
The 2 hour flight over Lake Eyre and the Warburton Creek Inlet will take you over the vast cattle country of Anna Creek Station to the gibber shelf on the Western shoreline of Belt Bay (lowest point in Australia). It also covers Silcrete Island and some of the eroded peninsulas that jut out into the salt bed, Jackboot Bay and then follow The Warburton Groove up to the very Northern end of the Lake where the Warburton Creek channels come together to flow into the lake. Aside from marvelling at this geographical landform, you’ll see an array of waterbirds on this flight.
After this fantastic experience, we will drive across to Coober Pedy, proudly named -Opal Capital of the World.
Around 150 million years ago, Coober Pedy was covered by ocean – and when the water receded, the sandy silica minerals from the seabed flowed into the rocky cracks and cavities and solidified over time into multi-coloured gem-stone – which we know as opal.
At Coober Pedy we will jump on board with Arid Area Tours who will offer an insight into this unique outback opal mining town. With a local guide you will experience the towns rich history, diverse culture, underground homes and churches, and outback charm.
Accommodation: Coober Pedy accommodation
DAY 5: Coober Pedy
Today we’ll enjoy a day tour of the Painted Desert. The Painted Desert is an ancient Inland Sea bed where coloured hills have been formed as a result of rain, weather and erosion, giving it its many shades of orange, yellow and white.
The various shapes are formed when the top layers of soil dry out and fall away to reveal the beautiful rich colours underneath.
We’ll travel north east from Coober Pedy through two cattle stations to the Arckaringa Hills and Painted Desert. This country highlights the vivid colours of the outback. Millions of years in the making, with unspoilt beauty. You won’t be able to resist the leisurely walk through this area with its breathtaking views, remarkable wildlife, and selection of outback flora.
Afterwards, we will have a dinner to farewell those who are leaving us at Coober Pedy, and to recap on experiences that we have had over the week.
Accommodation: Coober Pedy accommodation
DAY 6: Home Ports (B)
This morning following breakfast, there’s an opportunity to visit a few local sites before being transferred to the airport for your return journey home.
The Regional Express Airlines flightpath to Adelaide will cross over some magnificent country of outback South Australia.