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Blue Snoopy is a 2012 Nova Vita Caravan pulled by a 2012 Nissan Navara ST Dual Cab Ute.

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12 July 2013 – Coober Pedy to Erldunda SA

Our intention today was to drive the 230k’s to Marla and stay overnight in the caravan park adjacent to the roadhouse.

We left Coober Pedy in fine weather but unfortunately the wind was quite strong and blowing from the north east.  Needless to say, we had another head wind.

We arrived at Marla at 10:50am and rather than waste the remainder of the day there, we decided to continue onto Erldunda and stay there an extra night.  Erldunda is a roadhouse at the intersection of the Stuart and Lassiter Highways.  Yulara (Ayres Rock / Uluru) is about 250k’s west down the Lassiter Highway.  Our original idea in staying at Marla was based on plans to visit the nearby opal fields at Mintabie.  We knew that we needed a permit to travel there but we were told by one of the opal dealers at Coober Pedy that there were only a couple of miners still there and it was not really worth the effort of going there.  That information, combined with sufficient time in the day to travel further really made the decision to continue very easy.

The entire trip was with the head wind and with cruise control set at 88kph and the car set to automatic, our fuel consumption was 18.70 litres per 100k’s from Coober Pedy to Marla and 18.50 litres per 100k’s from Marla to Erldunda.  We know that these numbers are considered the norm for some vehicles but we only have an 80 litre fuel tank so the distance we are able to travel on a tank of fuel is not all that great especially considering the distances in remote Australia between major cities where fuel costs are reasonable.  We paid $1.94 cpl for diesel fuel at Marla today and $2.01cpl at Erldunda.  We acknowledge that there are costs involved in the transportation of fuel to these remote places but a larger tank would give us some flexibility in deciding not to have to buy when we consider that the cost is unreasonable.  Nevertheless, fuel costs still remain the cheapest part of motoring but they are climbing.

After we return to Sydney we intend to have our 80 litre tank replaced with a 165 litre tank.

We were passed by a long road train today (3 trailers) and were amazed at the residual effect it left after it passed us.  Whilst the speed of our combination remained the same (88 kph), it seemed like the car was slowing and struggling to maintain momentum.  A really weird experience.

We have seen numerous road trains passing us in the opposite direction and have not really noticed any major impact on stability other than our two aerial trying to detach themselves from the vehicle from the wind turbulence.

We are pleased at this time as the overall stability of the combination appears to be very sound and whilst we will not become complacent with towing, we are a lot more comfortable now.  The Milenco mirrors (we will write a separate entry when we return home) are outstanding with absolutely no indication that they want to blow back against the car when the airflow is impacted by a passing truck.

Presently we appear to be one of the slowest vehicle combinations travelling north on the Stuart Highway.  Our constant speed of 88kph appears to be about 5kph slower than other caravan and significantly slower that those towing camper trailers and light years away from cars.  All that aside, we have passed our first vehicle on a two lane highway (since owing the caravan), someone travelling slower than us  How the 2.4 litre Nissan would go was totally unknown to us and much to our relief, there was no issue at all.  We simply had to drop back to 4th gear and the Nissan accelerated nicely past the other vehicle.

Overnight is at the Desert Oaks Resort (that is what it is called) and it is really a very pleasant place to stop.  In addition to the caravan park, there is motel and hostel type accommodation.  We are on a reasonable sized camping site with sufficient space to allow us to remain hitched.  We have both power and water but no radio or television.  We also couldn’t get our satellite dish to lock onto the Optus C1 satellite so we will have to settle on the content we bought on a hard disk drive.

There is both a bar and restaurant here.  We have a voucher for a cheap meal that we might use tomorrow night.

Another thing that has surprised us is the fact that we have appear to have returned to summer.  Daytime temperature today got to 28 degrees (Celsius) and we needed to run the air conditioning to cool the caravan when we arrived.  We also need to watch our refrigerator to ensure that we don’t allow all of the cold air to escape.  At 8:00pm, it was still warm outside and we will need to find a way to compensate during the night as we have a winter doona on our bed.

During the afternoon, there was an accident at the intersection of the Stuart and Lassiter Highways.  This place is remote and whilst there is a fair amount of traffic travelling to and from Yulara to the west, this is the last place you would expect an accident to occur.  There is a warning here and that is to exercise care on all roads irrespective of where you are located.  We understand that a campervan and three cars were involved in the accident.  Fortunately there were no severe injuries, just severe material damage.   The owners of the campervan are “full-timers” and we understand that the locals are assisting them in true Aussie fashion.

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