Coober Pedy

Trip Start Apr 05, 2011
Trip End Nov 15, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , South Australia,
Saturday, April 23, 2011

Out the back of the Glendambo Roadhouse we could hear the Australian Economy in motion throughout the night as the road trains thundered relentlessly along the Stuart Highway. Finally dawn broke to another glorious morning and we were quickly packed up and following the white lines on our way to Coober Pedy.

As we got closer to Cobber Pedy we started to see the mounds of dirt piled up beside small mines where claims had been made and prospecting was taking place. Some still in work, others abandoned with the keen miner moving on to another claim.

We drove down the main street of Coober Pedy which is lined throughout the days with local Indigenous folk and their dogs, a depressing and confronting sight. Being Easter/Anzac and school holidays all rolled into one we had booked ahead, however upon arrival when we saw that our chosen caravan park resembled a car park in the middle of town we opted to forfeit our deposit and stay at a nicer one on the edge of town.

As luck would have it, this weekend just happened to be the Coober Pedy Opal Festival so we decided to join in with the locals at the Oval to experience their big day.  There were a few food tents, a couple of craft tents and then there was the opal sack holding competition… we didn't stay long! Later that night we did witness an amazing display of fireworks coming from the oval, they resembled the Sydney Harbour New Years Eve fireworks so we figured there must be a big mining company involved in winning over the locals!

The next morning we set off on a drive out to the Breakaways.  We were rewarded with an extraordinary array of mesa’s which vary in age to deliver stark contrasts in colours and formations.  Naturally with the changes of light throughout the day the colours vary and the outcome can be visually stunning so we decided it would be worth a trip back for sunset.

A loop road; the drive then took us along a section of the famous Dog Fence built to stop dingoes, foxes etc… from coming south and killing sheep.  Then onto a gravel road which leads onto the Oodnadatta Track.

Back in town we visited the Old Timers Mine, a disused mine which is now a museum, there is such a large tourism industry in Coober all offering similar experiences we just chose the one recommended by Lonely Planet and were not disappointed.

We were up early on Anzac Day for the Dawn Service.  We were pleased to see over 100 people gathered at the Coober Pedy RSL.  It was a glorious sunrise and the best part of the day out here with no flies yet on the scene!  After the service we stayed for breakfast then took a break before mustering back at the RSL for the march.

It was a small intimate march and Rod ended up being a co-star when one of the locals handed him a flag to hold during the ceremony.  This flag was one of only 200 used in the Vietnam welcome home parade. All the formalities done we went back to the RSL where we settled in for the day. After a few hours spent at the RSL Club, we then moved to an underground bar for a couple of drinks with some new friends we had met the night before at the Breakaways. For an Anzac Day though we did finish quite early and in a reasonable state.

In no hurry to leave on Tuesday we took a look through a couple of underground buildings, one being 'Faye’s Underground Home’.  This was dug out by hand, mostly by Faye herself in the early 1960’s.  A pleasant home that is indicative of most throughout the area it was interesting to look through and was obviously noticeably cooler.  The texture and colours of the rock make interesting feature walls which create a nice ambience.

Whilst fellow travellers we had spoken to didn’t like Glendambo we couldn’t wait to get back there and just sit under the magnificent sky again to admire the stars.  We did manage to have a few drinks and dinner at the roadhouse this time and were quite impressed. Off early in the morning we drove out to Roxby Downs, a town purpose built for the Olympic Mine, it was a pleasant surprise out in the middle of nowhere to find such a neat and well planned oasis, however it was devoid of personality and seemed plastic!

In stark contrast we visited Woomera which is virtually now a ghost town.  When the base was fully operational it had a population of 6,500, now just 180 residents remain.  The base is still used frequently by both Australian and international defence forces, however a team will fly in, do whatever they need to do and fly out again.

We filled our tank at Pimba and then drove down the road to the Island Lagoon Rest Area where we set up camp for the night, glad to have another couple of vans pull in to do the same.  The view was spectacular!

Highlights of Coober Pedy:

-          The scenic drive from Port Augusta

-          Breakaways

-          Rod being included in the Anzac Day ceremony

-          Visiting underground dwellings

-          Sunset and the breathtaking night sky at Glendambo and Island Lagoon Rest Area
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barrythepug on

Wow it's only been a month and you guys have seen and done so much. Glad to see you are still enjoying yourselves. Can you believe that Gary actually made the trip down the Princess Hwy to take me for a few walks.

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