Some places we've been and some places we're going.

Archive for August, 2021

Day 68 Coober Pedy

Although we haven’t searched out Opals we can’t leave here without actually seeing some so I went into John and Koka’s shop today. Another thing that always comes to my mind when I think of Coober Pedy are the miners’ utes. I wouldn’t normally think of pizzas but I will from now on. Last night we had a delicious pizza from John’s Pizzas in the town. It was too big for us to finish but GF only came in Medium size! Not only the pizza was good but the box was something special too.

First thing we did today was go searching for a good view of the Moonscape.

We played in the dross at Tom’s Working Opal Mine which is on the Stuart Highway very close to the turnoff into town.

From there we went adventuring down roads with names, that’s about all they had, no sealed surface or kerbs but some did have fancy names. There are mines everywhere.

Spotting dugouts was fun. In the town there are plenty of conventional, above ground homes and commercialised dugouts but you don’t have to go far at all to see genuine dugout homes. The ventilation shafts help pinpoint some. At times it’s hard to tell the difference between a home and a mine.

On our drive we came across the Serbian Orthodox Church which is far more elaborate than the lovely simple Seventh Day Adventist Church we found last time we went through here and the stone Catholic Church in the main street.

I noticed some information boards at a tiny park in town so went to see what they were about. There were also some small mosaics there and a terrace paved with named tiles.

After leaving there we went to find the Wetlands, I think it’s a work in progress. Water for the Wetlands comes from a water treatment plant which removes the salts from the bore water. There were little birds flitting around but not any waterbirds I could see.

Another little Jeep arrived at the Caravan Park today, they have been involved in a re-enactment of the movement of troops from Adelaide to Darwin in the 1940s and are now on their way back home .

Day 67 Kulgera to Coober Pedy

Today we were on the road by 7:30 but the little Jeep had already left, if he was cold in his swag I’m sure it must have been freezing in the Jeep with a bitter wind blowing. It was only 5 deg. when we passed two big eagles perched at the top of a dead tree. By 7:50 we’d passed the police setting up the roadblock at the temporary NT border, I suppose anyone who came through earlier would have missed being checked but there are cameras on the road so number plates would have been recorded.

About 330 kms north of Coober Pedy we saw something in the sky and were asking ourselves, “Is it a bird? Is it a plane?” Neither, it was an ultralight out in the middle of nowhere. I think I’ll need to research how far you can travel with a single tank of fuel. When I think of a home lawn mower and how long a tank lasts I can’t understand how the ultralight stays up long enough to achieve anything. We couldn’t see any sign of station vehicles or buildings just miles and miles of rocks, sand and scrubby trees.

At Marla the road was diverted to a police checkpoint, we were very happy we had a printed copy of the Cross Border Permit, we were quickly through but one caravan was there for ages as the police went back and forth between their hut and the traveller. When the Jeep arrived the contrast between his rig and the one in front of him was laughable.

It’s only about a week since people were queued up for hours waiting to cross the border but today with only a few cars passing through tempers were still frayed. When the Providore went to get snacks the woman in front of him was cursing the Covid Safe Check-in because it “wouldn’t work” until he pointed out she was trying to use the WA app. She said she wasn’t but soon realized she was. There was only one girl trying to do everything yet still one customer complained that he hadn’t been given his coffee yet. I think everyone is stressed due to the changing regulations because even when it seems that all is going well people are afraid it will change before they get where they need/want to go.

The Providore decided waitress/cook/bottle-washer had enough to deal with so we drove on until we found a free camp with plenty of space and we used some of our supplies. There was a picnic shelter and a water tank.

I thought the free camp would be a great place to stay for a day or so until I was reminded that there was very little shelter from sun or wind and flies were likely to be annoying too. It was a good place for our little stop today though.

It doesn’t matter how many times you drive into Coober Pedy the sight of hundreds of mullock heaps, from sand dune size down to almost molehills, is mind boggling. We’ll do a little exploring tomorrow but today I did go for a walk with Fergus down to the Playground and Skate Park where there are some beautifully painted tractor tyres.

Next to us surely has to be one of the most conscientious caravan cleaners around, she had her brooms setup ready for use within half an hour of arriving. Two rigs that caught my eye in the Caravan Park tonight are Gus the Bus and The Red Rattler -that one gets towed behind a Motorhome.

Day 66 Alice to Kulgera

Several people from the Caravan Park were leaving to travel south today but even though we made a call into Stumps to each have a last toastie and coffee/juice before leaving town we didn’t see a long line of vans. When we were a few kilometres short of Stuart’s Well we noticed plumes of black smoke and wondered if the place had gone up in flames. It hadn’t. I think someone’s stockpile of tyres or something similar was the cause.

When we stopped for a break at Desert Oaks picnic spot a convoy pulled in -the drivers seemed to be in uniform. Later we heard a truckie very nicely telling a convoy that though he had empty trailers there was no way of passing them. They were too close together and his rig was 50 metres long. We could only hear the truckie but he stayed cordial and positive the whole time and was eventually able to get past all of them.

After reaching Kulgera we took a short walk out the road which goes to Finke, a remote Aboriginal Community. Every year there is a Finke Desert Race for motorbikes, cars, buggies and ATVs which loops from Alice to Finke and back to Alice. Some competitors and advertisers have put stickers on the road sign. It’s not a relaxing road to travel.

The countryside looks completely dry and inhospitable but we saw small flowering plants blooming in amongst the tough, dry grasses.

We’ve seen a couple of cute vehicles today, the first at our Caravan Park in Alice and the second here.

We’re staying at Kulgera tonight expecting a SA Police email we have to respond to confirming we’ll arrive in SA tomorrow. If we move on we’ll have no internet until we reach Coober Pedy which is 392 kms into SA.

Tomorrow is going to be a long day of driving for us, over 400 kms so I hope there are some Eagles or something to make the day interesting.

Goodnight from Kulgera