Living under the Earth

Trip Start Oct 03, 2007
Trip End Mar 19, 2008

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Flag of Australia  ,
Thursday, December 27, 2007

Coober Pedy: Once, a boy found an opal in the middle of the desert. It turned out, that this was the biggest opal field in the world. Many diggers from all over the world followed the call, and there we go: Coober Pedy popped up on the map, a mere 800km from Adelaide and 600km from Alice Springs (with nothing in between, needless to say). It didn't pop up on the ground, though: due to extreme temperatues (no trees, but if there were any it would be over 40 degrees in the shade almost all year round), 80% of the people live underground in old mine shafts. Our hostel was in one of them, too.

It has played host to a few big film sets (Mad Max 3 and Pitch Black amongst the most prominent), and the place is now littered with memorabilia that nobody bothered to clean up after the movies. Hence it now has some of the most fascinating scrapyards you can imagine, which are amongst the only things above ground. In fact, most of Coober Pedy looks like a big scrap yard.

Once you leave the city, you drive though endless fields of sand hills from the dugouts. It looks like the biggest playground in the world! And here we came to our dilemma: in order to see all the sights around the city, we needed transport. "Tour" - what a dreaded thing that is... But we had no choice, so I bargained (successfully) to join a halfday tour though the desert for cheap money. It was necessary, and it was as good as tours can get, but oh do we value our freedom! No more tours for a long time, thank you very much!

Amongst the highlights were an underground church, an 18 hole golfcourse without grass, fossicking, driving through opal mining fields, listening to depressing stories about the absence of success in our driver's opal digging efforts, visiting crazy old man's Crocodile Harry home & mine (they were the same) and, randomely, the Breakaways - a remarkable rockformation north of the opal fields.
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