Port Augusta, dubbed as the "Gateway to the Outback", is in South Australia. It is also known as the "Crossroads of Australia", being situated the major east-west highway connecting Perth and Sydney, and also the north-south highway connecting Adelaide and Darwin. It also lies on the routes of both the Indian-Pacific and the Ghan.
Port Augusta is a town of about 20,000 people 300km from Adelaide at the top of the Spencer Gulf.
Most people visit Port Augusta on their way somewhere else. It is about 4 hours up the A1 from Adelaide. It is at the start of the Stuart Highway to Darwin, and the Eyre Highway towards Perth. The Ghan and the Indian Pacific both stop here. It is nicknames the "crossroads of Australia" as it is where the Adelaide-Darwin and Sydney-Perth routes meet.
The Wadlata Outback Center. This place is a step up from your average country town museum. It is an interesting exploration of the Aboriginal and European history of outback Australia. Restored railway carriages, interactive exhibits, and several movie productions. Allow at least an 90 minutes to experience it.
Watertower The old town watertown that has been converted into a lookout and has some great views of the town. Walk the four flights of steps to the top. In the west of town, just over the bridge, turn left and look out for it.
Wharf Precinct - Port Augusta used to have six commercial jetty wharves, and the main street of town looked down to the wharfs. The finger wharves were replaced by a parallel wharf in the 1950s, and the town's use as a port continued. That view is now unfortunately obscured by a supermarket, and the wharf is no longer a commercial wharf, but a recreational precinct. Just behind Woolworths.
The Arid Lands Botanic Garden. As you enter the Arid Lands Botanic Gardens, the first thing you will observe is that nothing changes. It is just the same low level cover over red sands that you would have experienced during the drive there. After you get over this initial amusement, drive to the visitors centre and spiral out through the gardens, and you will see why this is an award winning and unique place. The various types of plants you have been driving past are classified, with interesting interpetive signage about their uses by the Aboriginal and early Europeans. Displays on how to set up an arid garden too. The gardens are open until sundown, the visitors centre is open until 5pm, and admission is free.
Blanche Harbour, (At the end of Shack Rd, about 23km from town centre). This areas was once overrun with 4wd tracks, and overgrown with weeds. The area has now been rehabilitated by local residents, and is a great spot for a picnic, or for some birdwatching. Spot the Mulga Parrot, and a few emu and kangaroo. The trip out Shack Rd is interesting in itself, to see all the signs to the houses that line the water.edit
While driving over the bridge towards the west, the sign directing you towards the left fork for Perth and Western Australia, and the right fork towards Darwin and the Northern Territory is quite unique. Each destination is many thousands of kilometres distant.
Swim at the foreshore. Sandy beach at high tide, with a short jetty out into deep water. Good to cool off during the hot Port Augusta summer. Cold water shower and change rooms at the foreshore. There is a current with the tide in the deeper water.edit
Being the at the Crossroads of Australia, Port Augusta caters for a constant stream of passing traffic. There is a Woolworths, Coles and Big-W, and most all the services you could need before continuing on to more remote areas.
During the day you have a choice of coffee shops and cafes around the town centre. After dark, the pubs, clubs, roadhouses and fast food are your choices. There is a roadhouse and a Hungry Jacks open 24-hours. The pubs and clubs only serve meals at meal times.
Visit Quorn - a historical Railway Town. Ride the Pichi Richi from March to November. Visit Warren George to see the Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby, climb Mt Brown or hike on the Hysen Trail to Dutchmen Stern