A Day in Opal Country

Trip Start Apr 27, 2008
Trip End May 28, 2008

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Monday, May 12, 2008

After a 7:00 breakfast we had an 8:00 tour with Gunther who spent the first hour detailing opal generation, mining, quality and his life.  Gunther emigrated to Coober Pedey in 1968 to seek his fortune in opals.  He chased the opals for 10 years or so.  It appears his fortunes were never made with the opals but rather the tourist industry that is attracted to Coober Pedey.  He discussed several ventures he is involved in but his true talents lay in showing off the idiosyncrasies of Coober Pedey and it's population both past and present. as you can see from our first stop to the local cemetery.

From there our German friend took us to an underground church.  This was a bit unsettling for me as I had the added fear of a cave in to the typical fear of lightening strike when entering such establishments.  The risk was well worth it though as they did a spectacular job in constructing it.   After the Church we visited an underground house and an old mine.  Both tours were excellent and Gunther had endless stories and knowledge of the opal mining industry here in Cooper Pedey.
After the tour within the confines of the town proper it was off to the desert and surrounding hills to see the longest fence in the world and the beautiful hills.  The fence of course is the dingo fence which separates the undeveloped outback from the farm and grazing country.   Then we went to check out the Painted Hills and the Breakaway Mts.  Both locations were breathtaking and the location of part of the movie Mad Max Thunderdome.  Gunther who, according to him, was Mel's local liaison  and entertainment director had many stories to tell about the hard working and harder partying Mel.  According to our guide there have been 26 major motion pictures shot in the area.  The only other one he could think of was Red Planet, the one with Val Kilmner.

We then headed back into town and saw the thousands of bore pits and the local golf club.  I don't know if this is a serious capitalist venture but I suspect it is another Aussie joke.   Nevertheless it is a playable course and you can play all day for $10 Aussie dollars.  Well worth it I would say.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing, shopping, and exploring the town's shops.  That night we had a "Steam Boat Dinner".  Basically fondue with boiling water instead of oil or cheese.  It was excellent with all types of seafood and Chinese style noodles provided as well as an egg to hard boil.  A chili sauce and a soy sauce were provided for dipping.  It was a fantastic meal.
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