In the Outback of Southern Australia, the Coward Springs Campground Spa is a small bore bath where travelers along the Oodnadatta Track can relax at a true oasis. Located in the middle of nowhere, the campground and spa are situated in a unique wetland habitat that sits on the edge of the desert.
Restored and rehabilitated, this natural spa allows visitors to dip their toes in the therapeutic and highly mineralized water of the Great Artesian Basin. Far away from the big cities, tourists staying at the campground can enjoy the natural spa and learn more about the area’s history.
A heritage site, the campground was once a railway station for the Central Australia Railway. Remnants from the past that are preserved at the campsite include the original bore bath and two heritage buildings.
Less popular because of the remote location, the Coward Springs Campground Bore Bath is worth visiting if you find yourself traveling along the Oodnadatta Track.
The Natural Spa
The original spring that was found at Coward Springs has been rebuilt into the Coward Springs Campground Spa and it is now a small bore bath. The water that fills the pool comes from the Great Artesian Basin, which sits underneath the region. As water seeps to the surface it is highly mineralized and heated to a perfect 84.2°F (29°C).
Appearing rustic, the pool is surrounded by a wooden platform with a bench. It is small and can fit only several adults (about 4) at a time. There is a ladder to make getting in and out of the pool easier. Due to the small size, this bore bath isn’t really for swimming. Instead, visitors can sit and soak in the water as they look out at the wetland habitat or up at the night sky.
The natural spa is not too deep. For most adults, the water level will reach their waist or chest depending on the person’s height. For children, the spa is very deep and all minors will need to be supervised around the pool. There are no ledges in the pool to rest or sit on.
Campers staying at the Coward Springs Campground will have access to the pool 24 hours per day as the natural spa is always open. Visitors who are not staying at the campground can pay for day access to the spa instead.
The Coward Springs Campground was originally constructed in 1888 as part of the railway. The station serviced rail travelers for decades before it was abandoned prior to the line closing in 1980. Technically, the campground is a part of the Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs Conservation Park, which stretches for several miles on either side.
In 1998, the campground was included on the South Australian Heritage Register for its two historic buildings, rainwater tanks, bore bath, date palms, and athel pine trees. Now, visitors can stay overnight at the campsite as they explore the history, nearby springs, and wildlife of the area.
Campsites at Coward Springs are shaded by historic date palms, Tamarisk trees, and other native plants. All campsites come with a fireplace, but wood cannot be gathered in the Conservation Park. Visitors will need to bring their own wood or buy one of the eco-log fire kits sold at the campground office. Fires are not permitted from October to April.
The campsites are unpowered and generators can only be used in the afternoon before 5 pm. Pets are permitted at the campground, but they must be leashed at all times. Additional facilities that are available to campers are toilets and showers. The campground owners also run a Coffee Van that is open in the mornings.
Overnight camping fees apply, as do fees for daytime visitors. Attractions at the campground include the museum, historic buildings, and natural spa. Many visitors are interested in visiting the campground to view the local wildlife, which includes a variety of bird species.
The Coward Springs Campground and Spa is located in Stuarts Creek, South Australia. Very remote and with a population of 0, Stuarts Creek isn’t very well-known amongst tourists. However, for those who are willing to explore some of Australia’s most remote hot springs, it is a popular stopping point along the Oodnadatta Track.
Address: Stuarts Creek SA 5720, Australia
Coordinates: 29°24’04”S, 136°48’42”E
Phone: (+61) 8 8675 8336
Age Restrictions: No
Pets: Permitted – must be leashed at all times