Australia - Coober Pedy

Trip Start Dec 05, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Day 1

Waking early we finished our prior mission of getting to Coober Pedy and went straight to the visitor center to see where things were and most importantly if there was somewhere close to get a few more new tyres!

Having had two blowouts in less than 24 hours we decided that we should probably just replace all of our tyres and be sure that they were all in good condition - more for our peace of mind than anything else.

We found a nearby mechanic and had three new tyres, a new oil filter and a change of oil - grand total $400 (160 GBP), not bad actually. While we were waiting for Gizmo to be fitted with his 'new shoes' we took a look around the small town.

Coober Pedy is primarily known for two things, its underground buildings and its opals. Every second shop is an opal jewelers or an opal museum (PICS) and even the ground surrounding the town is full of opal fields (PIC) and opportunities to try 'fossiking' or 'noodling' for them yourself.

We were more interested in the underground buildings, including an underground hotel, church and didgeridoo shop (PICS).

A lookout in the center of town gave some views over the area, but with most residential housing underground you don't really see anything of note. There was however a spaceship randomly placed in a car park at the foot of the lookout. Now at first we thought that Darth Vader must be a fan of opals and had taken time out of his intergalactic power struggles to buy a few delicate pieces of jewelry for his favourite stormtrooper. We then remembered that Coober Pedy had been one of the locations for the filming of Mad Max movies with Mel Gibson and this was one of the props left over from the set (PIC).

Another feature of the car park was a metal statue of a rather skinny opal prospector (PIC), obviously not a very successful one judging by his emaciated appearance.

After lunch in the underground café (part of the underground hotel) we picked up Gizmo - looking sprightly in his new shoes - and drove south toward Adelaide. Once again the drive was too long to be done in one day so we stopped off at a roadhouse near Woomera, a town which until recently had been closed to the public due to ongoing missile and rocket testing by the Americans. The campsite cost us $2 - our cheapest one yet, so we took full advantage and went straight to sleep!
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