No potty for the next 480 kilometers – Tips for Australian Travel Plans
Potty planning is not top of mind when planning a trip, and you’ll rarely see that in in any top 10 planning list for vising Australia. Or any country, for that matter. Until your kids need to go. A mundane item on your plan, left unchecked, will surely and quickly ruin your vacation.
Adelaide to Uluru Planning, and flashes from Eastern Europe lack of potty plans
We are taking a 6 year old and a 7 year old with us from Adelaide to Uluru, so see the Ayers Rocks. There is a lot of nothingness in between, so good planning is in order. Including potty stops.
We learned this the hard way. Flashes of our last trip with a 6 and 4 year old came to mind, when we had to drive 700 kilometers from Constanta, southern part of Romania, to the painted Monasteries in the Northern part of Romania. Our potty point was the newly opened McDonald in Bacau, somewhere middle of the distance. For anyone travelling in Eastern Europe with kids, you’ll know why McDonalds is such a prized destination of hygiene and cleanliness.
And as any good plans, they change the moment you get in the car: Somewhere an hour out of Bacau, and the Oasis of McDonalds still away, the need kicked in. Romanian roads, and the infrastructure around them, moved on for about 20 pained minutes of “I need to go now” and emptiness of any place that you could reasonably attempt to, and finally we found a little parking space, with a green field behind. Still our four year old refused to go, because the tall grass was tickling her behind, and scared her enough to not go.
It was a dark day of our vacation.
National Public Toilet Map, kindly provided by the Australian Government
The good news for our 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) from Adelaide to Uluru is that the Australian government though of all this, and on their potty planning website, aptly named National Public Toilet Map, is showing all the toilets you’ll encounter in a city, or on a route. This is a handy tool.
The bad news – for a good stretch – almost 1,000 kilometers – there is only one restroom. The map above is at scale – Australia is as big as the continental US 48 states. Once you leave Port Augusta, the next point is 480 kilometers away, and then for another 460 kilometers there is a lot of potty nothingness.
I imagine a long line in Hutchinson Street in Coober Pedy, population 1,695, of the Stuart Highway drivers and passengers that just made it there.
The Australian government site is even that precise to let us know that, in the weekends, the restroom is open only from 10am to 1pm! Great parameters to have when planning a 1,000 mile trip. If we can put a man on the moon, for sure we can hit the 3 hour weekend windown on the Coober Pedy restroom.
We will figure out a way – my only hope as we make the drive is that we will find enough restaurants and hotels on the way, where I can beg my way into allowing us and our 6 and 7 year olds to go. As you know, Australia had the most venomous species – snakes and spiders included- on the planet. So going for 50 yards off he road into the bush can become a dangerous trip.
A pic of Coober Pedy area below. I cannot promise pics of the restroom when we finally make it there (yes, it’s emptiness and the Red Centre, but I’m sure they have a jail room for people using cameras in restrooms), but I will try to find the only tree they have there. The first tree ever seen in the town was welded together from scrap iron. It still sits on a hilltop overlooking the town, and apparently dogs cannot use it for the usual purpose due to rusting risk. So expect a pic of that tree.
Coober Pedy inhabitants live mostly underground, given that the outside temperatures often run over 50 celsius, or 120 F. So expect some pictures of the undergrounds as well.
As far as potty planning for Australian Red Centre trips, I will not dare to ask for advice and comments on this topic, unless you absolutely have to go there.