White man's holes, moonrise(s) and handbags

Trip Start Jul 27, 2009
Trip End Nov 07, 2009

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Where I stayed
Radeka's Underground Motel and Oasis Caravan Park

Flag of Australia  , South Australia,
Thursday, August 6, 2009

A long drive from Port Augusta saw us arriving at Coober Pedy just as the sun went down.  A spectacular moonrise accompanied us into town, with the huge yellow moon silhouetted against a pastel pink and indigo sky.  The thrill of the motel in Port Augusta was outdone by staying in an underground motel for our first night. Alec and Hilary were overwhelmed with excitement.

Hilary writes:
Our next stop was Coober Pedy.  Coober Pedy is one of the hottest places in Australia (but only in summer) and the people of Coober Pedy made their homes underground which was much cooler.

Coober Pedy is known as the Opal Capital of the World because they mine opal there.  I went down a opal mine with Dad and Alec.  We learned how people used to cart things (rock) around.  They often used cow hide to make buckets but this was a hard way to cart things around and they often broke.  Now they use a machine called a blower to suck up rock and dust and cart it to the top.

About the tour of the opal mine, Alec writes:
We saw a blower.  It can suck up rocks.  A couple of years ago a lady's hand bag nearly went up the blower.  There was a small mining machine which could dig tunnels.

The Coober Pedy townscape is apocalyptic and Hilary and Alec soon had legs covered in a Geisha pancake of sunscreen and limestone dust.  The town is also dotted with a plethora of movie set debris left over from end-of-the-world films shot in the area, including Mad Max III

The name Coober Pedy is actually a corruption of the local language "kupa piti" which means "white man's hole".  Imagine the bemusement of the indigenous people when white folk began pouring into the place and digging holes furiously all over the desert.  (A sign prolific in the area warns unwary tourists against walking backwards to line up photographs.)

A late afternoon drive took us to the Breakaways via the Moon Plain and the Dog Fence.  The Dog Fence is 5,600 km long, runs from the Sunshine Coast to the Bight and is still maintained to keep dingoes out of the sheep grazing country to the south, restricting them to the cattle country to the north. The Breakaways are a series of escarpments caused by erosion of the surrounding plain to reveal layered coloured landforms.  We stayed out for sunset and - guess what? - another spectacular moon rise.

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atlarge on

yep, has a backpackers and a motel bit, so could well be the same one, tho there are several underground accommodation establishments in the area...even one that advertises 'underground camping'!! Can't quite see the point of that one.

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