A whole lot of nothing

Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
Trip End Dec 18, 2011

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Where I stayed
Oasis Caravan Park, Coober Pedy

Flag of Australia  , South Australia,
Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Our morning after Uluru/Kata Tjuta was probably one of the most amazing of our trip. Mt Connor is a table top mountain that stands out similar to Uluru, and although a long way away can be seen from the main road into Uluru/Kata Tjuta National Park.  On the way in a couple of days earlier we had seen that there was a small overnight rest stop overlooking Mt Connor and so drove there (in the dark again, naughty us…still no roos) after sunset the night before.  We were the only people who thought of this and therefore had the whole rest stop to ourselves.  We set the alarm for just before sunrise and in the morning pulled back the curtain of our van and watched the sunrise from our bed.  We hopped out and had breakfast with the same view and it was definitely one of our favourite mornings!

That over we jumped in the van and headed back to Stuart Highway and South, stopping only for some petrol and to take a picture of us leaving the Northern Territory and entering South Australia.  Unlike the Northern Territory, which although relatively sparsely populated had a number of small and interesting places to stop, there is almost nothing in between the border and Coober Pedy, our stop for the night, a distance of approx 600km.  We met an old guy working in one of the Roadhouses in the middle of nowhere (an English guy who moved here 30 years ago) who thought it was the best place ever!  We weren't so sure because we’d enjoyed the little random stops up north, but each to their own….

We arrived in Coober Pedy in time to watch the sunset over the odd mounds in the centre of town.  Coober Pedy is a very odd place.  It’s a mining town full of fortune hunters, in the middle of an expanse of desert and the people live underground (which is what it’s famous for). In reality these days there are also a lot of houses above ground as they’ve discovered aircon, but back when people first moved here when they had no building materials for houses and it was too hot in the summer and cold in the winter to sleep outside, they built houses into the rocks or in old mine tunnels.  Some people still prefer to live like that these days…..and use planning permission to extend their house as a way to dig for more opals!  

That night we went for pizza in town and then headed to a local pub. Australian pubs are weird. It was all bright lights, high tables and loads of tvs showing different ways to gamble. It was like a bookies with beer.

The next day we decided to do a tour of one of the opal mines because we wanted to see what an underground home looks like and to get an idea of the type of work they did.  Before that started we got to have a free demonstration at one of the other museums of the tools and machine’s they use for mining opals.  We even got to try the blower which is used to suck up all the materials that they dig away.  May have been called a blower but had quite a bit of suck on it! The tour of the mine was done by quite an odd Austrian guy who had lived in Coober Pedy for years – obviously moved to Australia to get his bit of the opal fortune back in the day. In fact he used to live in the underground show home that makes up part of the tour – very strange!! All in all Coober Pedy’s probably the oddest place to have been to twice in your life, particularly if you’re from Europe. I’m assuming this time will be my last….!

We had a quick stop in Woomera which was the place the British chose to test their rockets after WWII. It’s still used by the Aussies to develop missiles and the like and has a very interesting museum and some really cool outdoor displays of planes and missiles. The area around here also has some very large salt lakes but given all the recent rain they’re now just really lakes!  They were really impressive, and given the size, the ones with 'mountains’ above them looked like coastal views….odd when we were about as far away from the coast as you can get! We had a few quick photo stops and headed on to the Flinders Ranges.
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