This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2004 Travels September 11

SATURDAY 11 SEPTEMBER   YULARA TO COOBER PEDY   750kms

We left Yulara at 8.30am. At least John did not insist on a really early start!

Today’s was a long drive, not improved by being all over roads that we’d travelled before, more than once.

Refuelled at Erldunda – $1.29cpl – and Marla Roadhouse – $1.38cpl.

In keeping with his usual attitude, John was determined to push on and make Coober Pedy. I had wanted to take two days to do that distance – not because of wanting to sight see, but because I get so uncomfortable just sitting, over so many hours. Even doing an hour or so of driving, periodically, did not help, but just changed the location of the cramping bits!

Ideally, I should be stopping every hour to walk around for 10 minutes or so, to boost the leg circulation, but that did not happen.

My legs were really painful by the time we reached Coober Pedy, just at dusk.

Travelling like that was just not enjoyable.

We went into the Stuart Range Caravan Park, on the edge of town. It was $20 for the night. The site was gravel, as one would expect, here. We were able to stay hitched up.

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Drive-through site at Coober Pedy

We had stayed in Coober Pedy on a couple of previous occasions, so felt absolutely no need to go exploring at all.

I made a quick pasta meal. Had a lovely, much appreciated shower in the very good amenity block. Fell into bed.

Resize of 09-11-2004 to cp


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1999 Travels September 2

THURSDAY 2 SEPTEMBER     COOBER PEDY

Today was a hot day, and a fairly quiet one for us.

We read in the morning.

After lunch, walked around town, browsing in a number of shops.

I went to the Underground Book Shop, where I found and bought, of all things, the latest edition of the Lonely Planet Guide to Tasmania.

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John bought two triplet opals, with nice colour, for $50. Coober Pedy opal has a milky white background, with colour flashes.

09-01-1999 20 Coober Pedy scene

Coober Pedy scene – old mines, dugout entrances, mining gear

We spent some time in the Desert Cave Hotel, wandering about and reading the information in their underground corridors – interesting. It is a rather upmarket place.

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The first tree seen in Coober Pedy – made from scrap iron!

We bought fish and chips for tea. Whilst out, John filled Truck – 84cpl.

John’s daughter phoned. They discussed the ceremony to do with her qualification as a lawyer. John feels he should try to attend this, but she did not seem all that keen.

John played computer games till 3.30am.


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1999 Travels September 1

WEDNESDAY 1 SEPTEMBER     COOBER PEDY

Today was hot, with only a little cloud.

We chatted for a while with a Swiss couple, who we’d encountered at Birdsville, with a Bushtracker caravan. They’d then driven down the Birdsville Track to Marree, up the Oodnadatta Track, to Oodnadatta, then come across to here. We had a look inside their van – we have not seen one inside, before. I found it rather claustrophobic and closed in. She was not all that happy with it – found it uncomfortable. It looked very heavy to me, for towing.

I packed our lunch, then we drove to the Information Centre, collected some SA material, and bought a Breakaways Pass, for $4.

The Breakaways are to the north of Coober Pedy – about 35kms away. They are, basically, an area of erosion features – flat topped mesa-like outcrops and stony gibber plains. The flat tops of these and the nearby Stuart Range are because many millions of years ago, the region was an inland sea. After the sea receded, softer areas were eroded; the Range and its outliers were more resistant. Similar to Chambers Pillar, I guess. Because the erosion features look like they have broken away from the Range, they were called The Breakaways.

We drove out there – about 30kms north again, on the Stuart Highway, and then we took a dirt road to the east for about 5kms. From the highway, the Stuart Range appears as a low, flat topped plateau on the eastern horizon. There is no indication of the brilliant scenery to come, until one is right up close.

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First sight of the Breakaways

The dramatic starkness, and the brilliant bands of colour really stand out here. We parked Truck and walked for over an hour, following a walking track around the base of part of an  escarpment, and to some viewpoints on its top. It was hot going, on the bare, stony ground. I found it a battle to watch where I was putting my feet – kept wanting to gaze at the unreal formations around me. We did not meet anyone else on the walk, and only saw one other vehicle out here, at all. This is really a little-known attraction of the area – everything seems focussed on opals and the town.

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Back in Truck, drove a short distance to The Castle formation, admired different perspectives and ate our lunch there.

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We returned to Coober Pedy mid-afternoon, via a circuit route, that took us over the Moon Plain – flat, featureless and grey – and along the Dog Fence for a way. The Dog fence is a 2 metre high wire structure, that extends for over 5000kms, and is meant to keep dingoes out of the sheep grazing country of southern Australia. Unfortunately, domestic dogs gone feral probably do more damage to livestock than dingoes, anyway!

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The Dog Fence

That track eventually met the Coober Pedy to William Creek road (unsealed), and we followed that to the highway, and thence back to Coober Pedy.

We’d had a most enjoyable excursion to some fascinating country.

Went to the public water point and paid to fill our big container, then back at the van, emptied this into one of the van’s water tanks. This was not easy to manage, but we had help from a non-English speaking neighbour in a camper van. Much appreciated, and I hope we were able to convey that.

Had a couple of late afternoon beers with other neighbours – from Brisbane. Told them all about today’s excursion. They had not heard of The Breakaways, but I think we convinced them that it was a worthwhile excursion.

Tea was steak, fries, bacon, with eggs for John and mushrooms for me.

John’s sister phoned and they had a chat.


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1999 Travels August 31

TUESDAY 31 AUGUST   MARLA TO COOBER PEDY   247kms

Getting away was easy, because we were still hitched up. Today would be a comparatively short drive, so we were in no hurry.

It was a straightforward run to Coober Pedy, though quite hot. I drove some of it – John wants me to become comfortable towing the van.

At a roadside stop, John emptied a jerry can into the fuel tank.

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Approaching Coober Pedy

We reached Coober Pedy late morning and booked into the Oasis Caravan Park. $13.50 a night, after the Big 4 discount. The caravan park is alright. There are no taps at sites – understandable where water is so scarce. There was one tap at an outside sink. The showers are coin operated – 20cents for about one minute! Travellers can buy water at the town’s public point – 20cents for about 30 litres. That is a better rate than the showers!

We were set up by lunchtime.

After lunch, went for a walk and explore, which we could do as the park is in town. Just as we set out, the fire siren sounded and a fire truck went racing out. Later, someone said there was a big road accident out of town.

The town seems slightly more ordered than when we were last here in 1993, but the shop front offsets are still higgledy and there are no footpaths. Coober Pedy, is, of course, an opal mining township. As we’d approached the turnoff from the highway, we’d started to see the white dump heaps and occasional blowing machines, that are the signatures of the opal areas.

We walked to the Big Winch Lookout, where there was quite a good view over town, with its dugout homes going into the hillside, and the bare sports oval. There was a gallery at the lookout, and we browsed in this; I bought postcards and magnets.

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The bare sports oval and the entrances to dugout homes on the hill

 

Next, we visited the Old Timer’s Mine – it cost us $5 each, but it was self-guiding and we spent over an hour in their tunnels, shafts and dugouts. It was quite fascinating and informative – and just a little claustrophobic. I do not like underground!

We wandered the long way back to camp, stopping to buy a paper, some cheese, and cucumbers.

Tea was salads and tinned salmon.

It is very pleasant to have warmer nights again – we barely even need the doona now.

08-31-1999 marla to cp