Innamincka

Innamincka is an iconic South Australian town which is a popular stopover for those travelling through the outback on their way to other "bucket list" destinations like the Simpson Desert.  It is a great spot as a destination itself, with the Cooper Creek providing excellent, stress free campsites right on the banks of the Creek which itself is ideal for canoeing, fishing and yabbying.

Innamincka is about 1000 k's from Adelaide.  The two most popular routes are via Broken Hill or up through the Flinders Ranges and onto the Strzelecki Track.  The latter is the shorter route, but only by a couple of hundred k's.  You could do one on the way up and one on the way back.  I have only ever gone up through Hawker onto Lyndhurst and then onto the Strzelecki.  It's a fairly easy drive - as long as there has been no rain.  Too much rain and they will close the roads.

A 4wd is definitely an advantage and makes the trip that much more comfortable, but it can be done in a 2wd vehicle.  The roads are sealed right up to Lyndhurst before they turn to gravel.  Once on the Strzelecki, tyre pressures should be lowered and the recommended pressure (for 4wd anyway) is 26-28 psi.  This reduces the chances of punctures.  Keep your speed at around 80 km/hr and you should have no problems. 

It's just short of 500 k's from Lyndhurst to Innamincka (486 k's) and can be done in one hit.  If your'e in no rush though, an overnight stop at the Montecollina Bore is worth it.  The water which wells up from the Artesian Basin here provides a haven for birds. 

Once you do eventually arrive at Innamincka you will realise there is not much there.  A pub and a trading post and that's about it.  However, the camping in and around Innamincka is great.  The pub offers great meals and it's a nice spot to have a few drinks.  The dining room Is quite large and well appointed and is well worth a visit.  The meal prices are quite reasonable and the food is good.  The trading post can provide or your fuel needs and you can stock up on essentials.  However, such essentials are very expensive (an example would be the 10 litre water casks - from a supermarket in Adelaide they can be bought for around $4 (cheapest).  When I was in Innamincka last, the asking price was $20).  Take plenty of water.

There are showers available at the toilet block opposite the trading post and pub.  A gold coin is all it costs and it can be a very welcome shower indeed if you've been camping rough.

You can camp on the town common which is a short drive from the pub and on the banks of the Cooper Creek.  The camps here are all bare dirt in amongst Box Gums.  Plenty of room for vans and camper trailers.  You will not have a problem finding somewhere to camp.  The birdlife at sunset and sunrise is quite surprising and the Corellas are likely to make sure you are up early.  A lovely atmosphere here and well worth a stop.

Other campgrounds not to far away are part of the Innamincka Regional Reserve.  To enter the reserve it will cost $10 a vehicle.  Campsites are $19 a night.  If you have, like I had at the time of my visit, a Desert Parks Pass, this covers camping for up to 21 nights, in the Innamincka Regional Reserve.  A Desert Parks Pass is worth purchasing if you intend to travel on up through the Simpson Desert and Witjira National Park.  It covers entry and camping into all these reserves (and more) and costs $150 per vehicle.  It also includes a good deal of information and maps.

Camps like Cullyamurra Waterhole, Policemans and Minkie are all lovely spots to camp.  You can fish (yellowbelly being the main target, along with some big yabbies) or, if you are lucky enough to have a canoe or kayak, the waters offer excellent opportunities to explore.

Winter is by far the most popular season and is Innamincka's busiest time of the year.  The days in winter are very mild, usually in the low 20's, but the nights can be very cold.  As long as you are well prepared and can keep warm, then it is a great time to visit.  Campfires are also allowed during the cooler months outside of Fire Danger Season.  There are some hardy souls who do visit in the warmer months, cooling off in the creek in the morning and then lounging around in the shade of the trees for the rest of the day.  Be prepared for daytime temperatures up around 40C though.   

If you do plan a trip to Innamincka or beyond, please make sure both you and your vehicle are prepared.  Services are few and far between.  Carry plenty of water and fuel and have a few spare parts for your vehicle in case.  Take care on the roads.  Although they are graded regularly, there can still be bull-dust holes and rough sections.

It's a great spot though with most travellers you encounter being very friendly.  It is a unique area of South Australia with historic significance (Burke and Wills, the Dig tree) and is well worth a visit.