SATURDAY 22 MAY COPLEY
Today was warm, but with much cloud cover.
I booked us in here for another two nights.
John slept in a little. After breakfast, he went to the local garage, who do tyres as well as serve fuel. They patched the tyre and put in a new tube, but it is basically dead, so is now the spare on the van, and we will need to buy a new tyre in Alice Springs. They have no tyres of that type here, and if we ordered one it would take at least until the middle of next week to come, so we will not wait. We had experience of waiting for ordered parts to come from Adelaide, in 1993, when we broke the Hilux axle at Port Augusta, and it was the most frustrating experience that took twice as long as promised!
The tyre work cost us $42. I kept the pointed piece of rock that was extracted from the tyre, and later wrote the cost of the new tyre on it, and kept it as a souvenir with a difference.
After lunch, we went on the tour of the coal mine, which I had phoned and booked this morning. This is put on by the mining company, at no cost. We drove to Leigh Creek, to the pickup point, where we were loaded into a mini bus and driven around to various points of interest.
It was interesting to be able to look up close at the operations, but the guide – a contract truck driver – was hopeless! There was no system to her commentary and much of it was inaudible.
The open cuts are so huge. And so deep. The haul trucks that cart the coal to where it is loaded onto the train, are so enormous. Just their wheels are huge – I took a photo of John standing by one, and he only came up to the axle mid point. The guide showed us the repair shop. A haul truck with a burst tyre was there – the tyres cost $20,000 each! It rather puts the cost of our dead tyre into a different light.
At one point, from the bus, we saw a bulldozer working on a slope that must have been at least 50 degrees. I didn’t know they could even do that!
Men building the railway north in the 1880’s, originally found coal here; it was mined occasionally from that time, but only really got going with open cut mining after WW2, in the 1950’s to supply the new power stations at Port Augusta. The original Leigh Creek town was where there is now a very large hole. The current town was established in the early 1980’s, so the old one could be closed and make way for the expansion of the open cut.
After the mine tour bus dropped us off back at Truck, we drove out to the Aroona Dam, just south of Leigh Creek. We just had a quick look and did not explore the camping area that is supposed to be downstream of the dam wall. John was not really inclined to look around. It did not look attractive enough for us to wish we were out here instead of in Copley village – quite the reverse, actually.
Back at the van, John cut up the ruined tube to make padding for better packing the axe and shovel on the roof rack.
We did a quick walk before dinner, around the township, amid a few rain spatters.
Tea was fish and French fries.
In the evening, I sewed, while John listened to the football on the radio. He worked on the computer, to bring the finance records up to date.
Again, it tried to rain occasionally, through the night.