Just because an Outback road doesn’t have a fancy name (eg. the Gunbarrel Highway, the Birdsville Track) doesn’t mean there’s nothing interesting to see there. One of the gems of Outback South Australia is found on the road between Oodnadatta and Arckaringa Station (and you can continue on from there to Cadney Park Roadhouse on the Stuart Highway). As far as I know, the road has no particular name. From Oodnadatta, you follow the signs to Coober Pedy, but turn right about 50 km out, heading for the Painted Desert. About 30 km from that turn, you come into this extensive kaleidoscopically-coloured area. A photographer’s dream!
Of course, there are other not dissimilar features in the broad vicinity: the Painted Hills near William Creek (viewable only from the air), the Breakaways near Coober Pedy, and the Ochre Cliffs near Lyndhurst. But for my money, the Painted Desert takes the cake.
There’s a great lookout on the south side of the road, providing a panoramic view, and a richly rewarding walking area on the north side, allowing you to get right in amongst the strikingly coloured soils and rocks.
If you’re continuing on south to Coober Pedy, turn left at Arckaringa Station onto the road to Mount Barry. The run from there down to Coober takes you across the dramatic Moon Plains. If you want to take in the Breakaways as well, turn right immediately after you cross the dog fence (about 15 km out of Coober).