Distance covered: 607 km.Distance covered: 607 km.

In the morning I take another detour from the Track and venture out into the Painted Desert. The name alone is worth a try, right? It looks pretty bleak most of the way, but as I approach the Arckaringa Station, I can clearly see how the region got its name.

The journey continues.The journey continues.

The scenery changes again.The scenery changes again.

Some interesting light.Some interesting light.

The Painted Desert.The Painted Desert.

The road goes right across it.The road goes right across it.

From a lookout point near Mount Arckaringa (oddly enough, Hema didn't put it on their map), a spectacular view opens across the vast plain covered in all sorts of colourful streaks. Very otherworldly. “Martian Desert” would be a title just as appropriate. And no one around at all, except flies. Lots of flies. Takes a genuine effort to keep them away from the camera lens!

How awesome are these colours?How awesome are these colours?

All around, as far as the eye can see.All around, as far as the eye can see.

Seriously, did anyone really paint it?Seriously, did anyone really paint it?

Mount Arckaringa in the distance.Mount Arckaringa in the distance.

Driving back to Oodnadatta.Driving back to Oodnadatta.

At quarter to 10 I’m back to Oodnadatta to have a quick snack. The small town looks just as bleak and lifeless as it did last night, but the famous Pink Roadhouse is very pink indeed. I have no intention of going in, though; I'll buy whatever supplies I need later down the road, in Marla.

The Pink RoadhouseThe Pink Roadhouse

For the next few hours I traverse the last stretch of the Oodnadatta Track, sandwiched between the two deserts: Painted and Pedirka. The scenery keeps changing all the time, and you can see why they call the Oodnadatta Track one of the most scenic outback drives in Australia. The sky is cloudy, but it doesn't rain, which is just perfect for a scenic photo or two.

Time to hit the road again.Time to hit the road again.

The outback scenery.The outback scenery.

...which keeps constantly changing....which keeps constantly changing.

...and changing again......and changing again...

...and changing once more. How bright is the colour of that dirt!...and changing once more. How bright is the colour of that dirt!

I also loved these tiny tufts of golden grass for some reason.I also loved these tiny tufts of golden grass for some reason.

At 1 o’clock I'm at Marla, which is where the road becomes sealed once again. Time to air up the tyres and do some shopping! Finally, I get some ice cream for myself and, for the first time in two days, mobile coverage. Funny how quickly we become attached to these numerous tiny threads that connect us to society.

And another change of scenery!And another change of scenery!

Ochre is the new red!Ochre is the new red!

And now I’m back on the Stuart Highway, heading south this time. The drive is fairly monotonous, so I pass the time by singing along to the songs in my stereo and making quick “pic stops” every so often. As usual, some images turn out to be surprisingly good. I'm very fond of this particular stretch of the highway, between Marla and Coober Pedy; looks a lot like the Red Centre region in central Australia.

Back to red dirt.Back to red dirt.

Love these gnarly twisted trees.Love these gnarly twisted trees.

Shortly after 4 p.m. I reach the famous Breakaways near Coober Pedy. They look very imposing, not unlike the Painted Desert lookout I saw earlier today. Much more people around this time, though (the entire buses of them!), and arguably a bit more flies.

The Breakaways.The Breakaways.

Looks a lot like the Painted Desert, doesn't it? Or the other way around.Looks a lot like the Painted Desert, doesn't it? Or the other way around.

I’m almost out of fuel, and the warning light has been on for quite a while before I make a stop at some obscure servo in Coober Pedy; thanks, FuelMap! The fuel is quite cheap indeed, but the owner doesn’t accept PayPass, citing higher fees from the banks. Interesting. With my tanks full, I’m out of Coober to camp some ten kilometres away, at a rest stop near the Hutchison Memorial.

The place is so huge that I can barely even see the two other camper vans that share it with me. It has some shaky mobile signal, too. Winning! It also has the most ferocious bunch of flies I’ve ever encountered: they even attack my camera while I’m making my cool sunset pics from the tripod, and they keep harassing me for about 30 minutes after the sun is actually down. Wow.

At the end of the day.At the end of the day.

The gibbous moon.The gibbous moon.

Once again, the night is quite warm and just a little bit windy; I expected worse at this time of year. I use the inclement weather to my full advantage as I do my another batch of Milky Way shots. This place has some interesting trees as well, which I also use to my advantage to play with composition. And boy, do they look good with that phenomenal starry background.

The solitude.The solitude.

Two is company.Two is company.

Waiting for tomorrow.Waiting for tomorrow.

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