Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cooper Pedy

After we finished our visit in Uluru National Park, it was time to move on - plus our park passes where only good for 3 days, which we got our money's worth.
We headed down to a place called Kulgera, a small roadhouse stop. We weren't keen on driving the whole way to Cooper Pedy, and Kulgera was about half way. We arrived nice and early in the day, and they even had a pool. It was nice and cool, very refreshing for once, and not many people around. Once again as the evening rolled around, a storm blew in, we watched it from our car wondering if it was going to pass us, and sure enough, we caught the edge of it. I'm sure if we where 20km's south, we would have missed the whole thing, figures. Once 1830 hit, and to my dismay, we decided it would be best if we ate in at the roadhouse pub. I have to say, we have been in some very interesting roadhouses. This one was VERY redneck, and I mean redneck. First of all, the guy that checked us in reminded me of Beavis and Butthead - I don't think I need to say much more. The roadhouse was just like someones home built up with 'junk'. Pictures taken from the original opening of the roadhouse till present, snake skins on the wooden banister, skulls, aboriginal paintings, jars with dead things - snakes, scorpions, spiders - all which I found out later had been found in the pool. Good thing I had already been in the pool as there is no way I would be going in after hearing that! The food wasn't the greatest either, but what can you expect from a roadhouse in the middle of nowhere. Luckily the storm blew over when we went to bed, and it was a nice cold night - how much I miss the cold, wow, never thought I'd say that.
Anyways, the next day we drove to Cooper Pedy, in South Australia. The town is an opal mining town, named after an aboriginal term that means 'white mans hole in the ground'. And this is pretty much what it is. CP is in one of the hottest, arid, driest places in Australia, smack dab in the middle of the desert. Temp's reach up to 45 degrees in the summer, and up to 65 degrees on the ground, and they rarely, rarely get rain. When the first settlers arrived - after a teenage boy found opal, it made sense to live underground, and this is what they did. It is cool under ground during the day, and warm at night when temperatures drop. As you approach CP there where hundreds of mounds from where people have searched for opal, and the whole town is more or less underground. Mounds of dirt everywhere and many places are build into the sides of the hills which have been mined around them. There are churches underground, which the catholic church was dug by hand, the only underground post office in the world, as well as many homes, hotels (Comfort Inn), hostels, and even campgrounds are underground. And yes, we did sleep in a tent, underground. A very neat and different experience. We didn't put the fly net on, and when we went to bed, we where still actually a bit hot. It also didn't help my asthma from all the dust that was kicked up, and when I first went to bed, I was a bit wheezy, this did settle after awhile. It was an amazing experience, and probably could have slept all day as it was so dark, but I probably wouldn't do it again. It wasn't good for my lungs and to be honest, I like the wind blowing through the tent. But anyways. We went on a self guided tour of an opal mine where you could still see opal in some of the rocks, as well as they had displayed original opal valued at over $120,000!! CP is a very small and quaint town, and there was no need to stay more then one night - plus the campground didn't have a pool :( So the next day we drove to a place called the breakaways, some very neat formations of rock due to erosion, and also a place where many films where made (Mad Max, Pitch Black) and also got to see the dog fence. The longest fence in the world. Originally built by farmers to keep the dingoes out from attacking there sheep, and eventually the farmers fences met up and joined as one. The area covering SA, Queensland and Victoria is over 5,000km's long, and the dog fence is 2,250km in length. Now that's a long fence!!!

We are currently in Port Augusta, 300km's from Adelaide and have clocked over 4100km's in the good old Magna. We had a chill day today to check out the town and relax by the pool. Tomorrow we are heading northeast to the Flinders Ranges to do some hiking and maybe a bit of swimming. Bring on the adventure :)

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