COOBER PEDY News & Events


John Dunstan of 'John & Yoka's Opal and Art sweeps away flood waters at the front of his shop on Sunday morning in Coober Pedy

Temperatures in the Far North communities of SA plummeted from the high 40s down to 17C on Sunday as Ex-Cyclone Yasi circled the top end of the state.

Pastoral areas north of Coober Pedy sustained heavy flooding leaving many Stations inaccessible except by helicopter according to Trevor Wright of Wright’s Air, based at William Creek.

Ernabella on APY Lands had the highest rainfalls at 201.6 mm (8 inches), Arckaringa Station 167 mm, Todmorden Station 178 mm and  Hamilton Station 138 mm. (Thurs overnight – Monday morning)

“A big flood is occuring in the Alberga River and still rising”, said Douglas Lillecrapp of Todmorden Station on Monday.  “It is the highest since March 1989, but still has to rise another 300 mm to reach the 1989 peak”.

Literally stranded: Ringers Adam Halford and Joshua Jawoski sitting in a capsized boat on flooded Hamilton Station in the Far North. Photo: Samantha Fitzgerald

By Monday morning other locations measured in at: *Mount Barry 130 mm, *Nilpinna Station 115 mm, Arkaroola 122.3 mm, Marree 111.8 mm, Marla 142.2 mm, Mintabie 114.9 mm, *Macumba Station 106 mm, *Mt Dare 102 mm, Oodnadatta 100.6 mm, Yunta 138.6 mm, Andamooka 73 mm,  Leigh Creek 54.4 mm, Billakalina Station 77 mm, Millers Creek 80 mm.  (*Subject to update).

Mintabie’s Post Mistress Kay Marshall said, ” The first big lot of rain came through on Sunday after the remnants of Cylone Yasi changed direction. We estimated the average wind speed at 40mph (about 64 kph) due to the nature of our wind generator, which changes tone at 40 mph and starts “screaming”. This went on during bursts of high winds all through Sunday night when another round of heavy rain fell on the town. Like Coober Pedy, our temperature dropped dramatically to 17C on Sunday.”

Mrs Marshall commended the Bureau of Meteorology for their accuracy in pinpointing the areas where heavy flooding would occur in the Northern Pastoral areas.

Coober Pedy's Opal Inn suffered road flooding early Sunday morning with patrons finding difficulty accessing parts of the premises

Coober Pedy totalled 73.8 mm by Monday with wind speeds measuring up to 72 km/ph with more rain predicted as Yasi changed course and moved across into Western Australia. 

Yoka Dunstan of John & Yoka’s Opal and Art in Coober Pedy said, “We are glad the rain has stopped for now! Any more and we could be in trouble”.

 “Nothing like the poor people in Queensland that had the flood and had their entire life washed away. You can see how close the water came to our front door (photo at top) and since Sunday has flowed down on the shop verandah even more. Lucky Coober Pedy doesn’t get this very often”. said Mrs. Dunstan. 

Martin Smith, Manager at Radeka Downunder in Coober Pedy said, “It was interesting watching people take photos of the temperature gauge here at Radekas reading 45C degrees one day and 17C the next”.

The intersection at 17 mile road and North West Ridge created problems for locals who were unable to access their homes by vehicle

Ex-tropical cyclone Yasi driven by a strong La Nina event crossed over the Queensland border into the Northern Territory on Friday.

The swirling mass of airborne moisture passed over Tennant Creek, did a left hook, taking in Alice Springs and reaching down into South Australia where Far Northern towns and Stations were to expect up to 8 inches of rain in some areas

The core of the ex-tropical cyclone Yasi was estimated at over 500km wide and including its range of activity, spanned in access of 2000km, easily reaching across into two states.

The category 5 cyclone made a catastrophic entrance into Australia via the North Queensland coast last Thursday 3 February at 1am. 

Since Thursday, the tour de Yasi across inland Australia wreaked severe storms, gale force winds, floods and unusually cold temperatures in its wake.  

Oasis Tourist Park owner George Russell stacks sandbags across the entrance in readiness for the overnight deluge

In Coober Pedy, Mine Rescue/SES volunteers bagged thousands of sandbags over the weekend as flood waters began rising in parts of the town while the slow moving Yasi continued it’s turbulent journey.
Residents and businesses in Coober Pedy started sandbagging their properties as heavy cloud from ex-tropical cyclone Yasi circled overhead on Saturday morning.

George Russell owner of Oasis Tourist Park and Bulls Garage like many other residents of Coober Pedy in the Far North  stacked sandbags around his business premises anticipating severe storms over the next few days as predicted by the BOM.

Coober Pedy is situated on the Oolgelima Creek which takes most of the storm runoff from the town.  The creek is a tributary to Lake Cadibarrawirracanna.

Heavily flooded Macumba Station in the far north pastoral - Photo Gerry Nunn

Pastoral stations north of Coober Pedy have been the hardest hit with heavy flooding on Saturday night and Sunday. Most outback roads were already closed by 5pm Saturday night due to only minor flooding at that stage. 

Helen Williams of Nilpinna Station (115 mm) said, “The rain is very welcome after the long stretch of hot weather we’ve all had.  It will be nice to see the dams and the rainwater tanks full again and hopefully it’ll boost up the feed for coming season”.

Hamilton Station (138 mm). “The airstrip is completely under water and is waist deep,” said Samantha Fitzpatrick a Jillaroo at Hamilton Station. “Tomorrow we’re moving the motorbikes and equipment from the workshop up on to higher ground so they won’t be damaged. Having rain straight after the big fire at Hamilton will really help regenerate the vegetation. I imagine the roads will be closed for several weeks, so it’s just as well we are stocked up with supplies, otherwise we’d be in trouble”, said the Hamilton Station Jillaroo.

Flooding at Anna Creek Station over the weekend. Photo taken from Wrights Air (aircraft) William Creek

Patrick Williams Manager of Arckaringa Station (167 mm) said, “the rain is definitely a good start to the year with good summer feed coming out of it”.  “We may have to repair a few fences but that’s a small price to pay.”

Douglas Lillecrap reported 178 mm at Todmorden – Monday morning. “I’m hoping this big rain event will drown all these rotten mice”, Douglas said quite seriously.

“Everyone from Alice Springs right down to Port Augusta has been battling with mice for at least three months and with 700,000 ha that’s a lot of mice if you can imagine 1,000 mice per ha. They are simply devouring everything.  I’ve even had them in the fax machine and in the printer!” said Douglas.

Pink Roadhouse staff Tiny Van Breusegem and Audrey Bernard watching the rising floodwaters at Neales Creek. Photo: Adam Plate

Adam Plate from Oodnadatta said, “Water flows from the 178 mm falls on Todmorden Station are making their way to Lake Eyre . The road crossing of Neales River, which has no causeway yet, is about 2 metres deep today (Monday)” . “This is possibly the biggest flood since 88-89 and visible from the village of Oodnadatta”, Adam said.

Pink Roadhouse staff Tiny Van Breusegem and Audrey Bernard were fascinated with the rising flood at the junction of Kempe Rd and Oodnadatta Tracks 1.5 km east of Hookeys waterhole on the Neales River and took some time out to enjoy the Yasi spectacle in Outback South Australia.

Outback Roads Temporary Closures, Restrictions and Warnings Report

Oodnadatta Track (Issued Monday 7th February 2011 at 4:57pm)


Oodnadatta to Hamilton HS – Closed – Due to rain
Oodnadatta to Marla – Closed – Due to rain
Oodnadatta to William Creek – Closed – Due to rain
Oodnadatta to Coober Pedy – Closed – Kempe Road – due to rain
Painted Desert Road – Closed – Due to rain
Mintabie Road – Closed – Due to rain
Coober Pedy to William Creek – Closed – Due to rain
William Creek to Bopeechee – Closed – Due to rain
Bopeechee to Roxby Downs – Closed – Due to rain
Bopeechee to Marree – Closed – Due to rain in Alberrie Creek area
Mount Barry to San Marino – Closed – Due to rain
Mount Barry to Arckaringa – Closed – Due to rain
Hamilton HS to Mt Dare – Closed – Due to rain

Special Notices
Hawker to Quorn – CLOSED- due to damage to the pavement and culverts at Boolcunda Creek floodway. Likely to be closed for up to two days
Hawker to Orroroo – OPEN- caution at floodways
Hawker to Blinman – OPEN – With caution at floodways and creeks due to silt and debris
Leigh Creek to Hawker – OPEN – Caution at floodways as there may be silt on the road.
Stuart Highway – caution due to water over road approximatley 100km north of Glendambo
Barrier Highway – OPEN with caution. There are three speed restricted (25km/hr) sections between Burra and Yunta.
Peterborough to Terowie – OPEN with caution. Speed restrictions apply (25km/hr) to damaged sections.

Farina to Mulgaria – CLOSED due to rain
Pondana Ruins to Skull Tanks via Kangaroo Well – Open to 4WD vehicles only – caution at washouts and ponded waer.
Flinders Ranges area – caution at all creek crossings due to flood damage
Roads north and south of Barrier Highway – Extreme caution due to flood damage – washouts may be encountered.
Old Morgan Mail Road (Morgan to Danggali via Canegrass) – 4WD with caution due to rain damage
Lioch Lilly to Sturt Vale via Quandong Station – CLOSED due to flooded creeks and rain damage.
Burra to Sturt Vale – CLOSED due to flooded creeks and rain damage
Yunta to Sturt Vale – CLOSED due to flooded creeks and rain damage
Morgan to Sturt Vale – CLOSED due to flooded creeks and rain damage
Morgan Vale to Loch Lilly via Oakbank – 4WD only – extreme caution due to washouts
Birdsville Inside Track (Alton Downs Station access) – Closed due to flooding of Goyders Lagoon – will be reassessed end February 2011. Note: this is not the main Birdsville Track
Old Strzelecki Track (Merty Merty Station to Innamincka) is impassable due to flooding – do not attempt to travel on this road. Note: this is not the main Strzelecki Track (via Moomba)

The Cooper Creek Ferry ceased operation on Friday 21 January 2011. The track conditions will continue to be monitored and it is expected that the ferry may need to be recommissioned when flood waters from Queensland reach South Australia in the next few months. While the ferry is out of action, minor modifications will be undertaken to increase the flexibility of this ferry if and when flood waters return. Conditions of use of the ferry are provided below for information – note some conditions may change due to the proposed modifications.
Signs displaying conditions of use of the ferry are installed at Marree, Birdsville, Mungeranie and at the ferry crossing.
Conditions of use of the ferry:
Maximum load for vehicles – 10t gross
Maximum load for cattle on hoof – 8t gross
Maximum length of vehicles is 7.8m – Trailers are permitted providing the total length of towing vehicle and trailer does not exceed 7.8m
Persons use the ferry at own risk
No more than 6 passengers permitted on ferry at the one time
No persons permitted in vehicles during crossing
Lifejackets must be worn
When operating, the ferry will run from 7am until 7pm only, 7 days per week weather permitting
The ferry WILL NOT operate if the Birdsville Track from Marree to Mungeranie is CLOSED
All persons must follow instructions and conditions in loading as directed by the ferry operator.
Further ferry information is available at

Halligan Bay Track PAR to Lake Eyre – Open to 4WD vehicles only with caution at ponded water and creek crossings. This is a bush track, not a road. Drive to track condtions with caution as the landscape is fragile and the track will deteriorate due to high traffic volumes. Driving on the lake surface is an offence and dangerous. Trailers and caravans are not recommended.
Level Post Bay Track PAR to Lake Eyre – OPEN to 4WD vehicles only with caution. This is a bush track, not a road. Drive to track conditions with caution as the landscape is fragile and the track will deteriorate due to high traffic volumes. Driving on the lake surface is an offence and dangerous. Trailers and caravans are not recommended. No camping at Level Post Bay – camping is available at Muloorina Campground.
K1 Warburton PAR into the Simpson Desert is CLOSED until further notice due to flooding
Pedirka PAR – into Witjira National Park is OPEN.
Walkers Crossing PAR – CLOSED until further notice due to flooding

For lastest information on South Australian Desert Parks please call the Desert Parks Hotline 1800 816 078 or access the Desert Parks Bulletin at