“Just drive to the Dog Fence, take a left, and continue on until the ground isn’t flat.” These are the kinds of instructions that work in central Australia.
The Dog Fence itself is fascinating – a real marvel of scale that is only possible in a few places on the planet.
It stretches for 5,600 kilometres across more than half of Australia. Made mainly of high wire mesh, it was first built in the 1880s and is still constantly maintained.
The aim is to keep dingoes out of the part of the country where most of the farmland is located.
But the fence is not the focus for today. (Maybe I’ll go back one day and see a bit more of it so I can write a more detailed story.)
Today it is just a nice bonus on a trip out to one of the most interesting natural sites around the South Australian town of Coober Pedy. I’m on my way to The Breakaways (now known as Kanku-Breakaways).
I’ve already written about the best things to do in Coober Pedy, a tough remote town in the middle of Australia.
Most people who come out here are more interested in what’s beneath the ground, not what’s on top of it. That’s because value these days is often judged by monetary value, not natural beauty.
Opals, the reason for the existence of Coober Pedy, may have both… but that doesn’t take anything away from Kanku-Breakaways.
And in one day, there is enough time to see the town with its opal mines, desert golf course, underground homes, and harsh environs… and still make it out to this special protected area.
The Breakaways was the name given to this place by the European settlers. It was meant to capture the visual impression you get when you arrive – the large colourful mounds that rise up, creating cliffs, mountains, valleys and plains.
It looks as though this whole area is trying to break away from the desert and break into song and dance in celebration of its vibrancy.
At the end of 2015, the name was officially changed to Kanku-Breakaways to recognise the indigenous owners of the land.
‘Kanku’ means ‘shelter’ in the traditional language and this is a place that has provided shelter from the scorching conditions to animals, plants and people for thousands of years.
For me, there’s no need for shelter. The temperature is pleasant enough and I’m excited to run around, taking photos of as much as I can.
The sweeping views from the lookouts are amazing, but so are the little details like the plants and the glittering pieces of gypsum in the soil.
My visit to Kanku-Breakaways is relatively short. It’s part of a day trip to Coober Pedy that is one of the stops on my journey on The Ghan Expedition from Darwin to Adelaide.
Because time was limited, we did everything by driving and only stopped at a few spots. If you’ve got time, you might want to consider going for a hike through some of the walk.
There are marked trails that you need to stick to but you won’t regret getting a range of viewpoints.
The more I travel through this part of Australia, the more I realise how many gems there are out here. Let me leave you with a few more photos:
You can find more information at the official site for the Kanku-Breakways Conservation Park.