We’re on a really tight schedule, travelling from Perth to Alice Springs (3600 km) in a week, and so when I discovered a short-cut from Ceduna to Cooper Pedy — bypassing Port Augusta — I was thrilled! The Kingoonya road was mostly well-graded dirt, able to handle speeds up to 80kmh, and — despite a few corrugations — well worth the bumpy ride!

Signs around a clock in the Nullarbor Roadhouse, South Australia, August 2013
I love these signs in a roadhouse in South Australia! When travelling across the Nullarbor, you pass through three time zones (Australian Central Standard Time, Australian Western Standard Time and the bizarrely tiny but officially-recognised Eucla time zone named Central Western Standard Time).

South Australia is a big, dry state with a low population (1.6 million) and relatively few roads. Most of the population is located around Adelaide, and there are hardly any sealed roads in the western half of the state.

Shortcut from Ceduna to Cooper Pedy, via Kingoonya, South Australia
The short-cut shows 589 km from Ceduna to Cooper Pedy via Kingoonya, while the main road — via Port Augusta — shows 1003 km between Ceduna and Cooper Pedy.

By the time we took the 230km dirt road to Kingoonya, it was already dark, but the road was good enough to travel with our headlights. We met one large truck coming the other way, but other than that, we were the only road-users apart from many wombats and the occasional kangaroo.

Sign to Kingoonya, South Australia, August 2013
Even though we're not making any turns once we're on the dirt road, it's still reassuring to see the signs to Kingoonya which are posted at every intersection along the way.

Parking at Kingoonya, South Australia, August 2013
It's after midnight when we finally reach Kingoonya, and we pull in at the designated rest area — little more than a toilet and a picnic shelter.

Kingoonya, South Australia, August 2013
Kingoonya feels like a ghost-town, although it has a few occupied houses, a pub and accommodation available.

Kingoonya, South Australia, August 2013
We're also able to fill up our diesel tank at an automatic pump in Kingoonya. This is the first time we've used a completely automated filling station during our travels, and it feels weird to access the latest technology in this remote outpost!

From Kingoonya, it was only another 30 km back to the Stuart Highway. Although the whole road was rougher than the highway, I’m so glad we did take the shortcut via Kingoonya! We travel pretty slowly on sealed roads (around 80kmh), so the dirt road didn’t slow us down much and shaved off almost 500km from our total itinerary. If you’re travelling from Ceduna to Cooper Pedy, I’d highly recommend it.