Because of the unplanned visit at the mechanic we only made it to Glendambo that day. But that was fine for a first test and Tony didn’t disappoint us – yet. From Glendambo we only saw the roadhouse, but with an official population of zero, there is probably not much else there. The dinner at the roadhouse was nice and they even had an open fireplace where we could warm up a bit.
The next day we drove to Coober Pedy, a truly strange place. It is an old mining city where they are still mining for Opal. Those clear to milky stones that shine in all rainbow colors attracted quite a lot of people. But as it can get fairly hot in this city in summer, some of the places are actually built underground. There is for example a beautiful Serbian Orthodox Church which is completely built into the mountain. There are underground hotels, bars and museums and in the Umoona Opal Mine & Museum we learned a lot about the time when the dinosaurs were ruling Australia, the Opal mining and the cooperation with the Aborigines.
And one more thing we got to know in Cooper Pedy, something I had suppressed since my last visit to the Australian Outback – flies. There were so many of them and they were unbelievably annoying. Sitting in our eyes, ears and noses on their search for water and proteins. And as we knew that they would be accompanying us all the way up we went to the supermarket and bought fly nets which we could put over our hats – best investment in weeks.
The next morning, we took off right after sunrise as we had an 8-hour journey to the Uluru ahead of us. And about an hour after leaving Cooper Pedy and out of the reach of the cellphone antennas Tony shocked us for a second time. He suddenly lost power. It felt different than last time, but he just couldn’t hold his speed anymore and got slower and slower. We took a stop next to the road and checked the engine. Nothing looked unusual and the only liquid that wasn’t filled up to the top was the cooling liquid. Even tough it was cold outside and therefore the cooling could not be the issue we filled it up and started Tony again. Miraculously he went back to normal and to take this away, never made problems again.
After a last fuel stop at the Erldunda Roadhouse, we turned away from Stuart Highway and drove for the next three hours towards the Uluru and Kata Tjuta NP. After about two hours a big red rock showed up. But this wasn’t Uluru, it was Mt. Connor. An impressive mountain itself and definitely worth a stop, but not yet the most famous Australian rock. This one took its time and only presented itself when we were about 20km away from the entrance to the national park.