Day 4

Trip Start Apr 10, 2005
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39
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Trip End Apr 10, 2006


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Flag of Australia  ,
Saturday, September 10, 2005

We woke up to the sunrise which was so bright and coz it was so clear it you could see lines of colour/light through the sky. It was very pretty. Today we travel to Coober Pedy. We passed the road up to Anna Creek Cattle Station homestead. They have taken the sign down coz they got fed up with the tourists. Anna Creek cattle station is huge. It's the worlds largest and is around 23,777sqkm at the moment and it used to be bigger. It's the same size as Wales or Israel and takes a week to ride across on horseback. It meant if a drought hit in one area the farmer could move cattle to another area that was not affected. It's absolutely massive we had been driving through it for ages.

We stopped off at the Dog Fence which unsurprisingly is a huge fence. It stretches for about 5600km from the Great Australian Bight in South Australia to Surfers Paradise in South East Queensland. It the longest fence in the world and is twice the length of the Great Wall of China (the real one not the one on the hill). It was built to keep dingos out of sheep country. It's now maintained by the government and the men that check it for holes are called doggers. Apparently it's very effective.

We arrived in Coober Pedy, the Opal Capital of Oz and some say the world. The Aboriginals named the place and it translates to 'white mans burrows' or 'white mans holes in the ground'. Over the population live underground to shelter from the extreme climate which ranges from 50c to below freezing. The underground homes stay at a constant temperature of 21/22c. It's not a pretty town, very barren almost like a waste ground and it was windy when we were there. The town built up due to the Opal industry and it is surrounded by mines (they are now banned from town so old mines r now museums). There are piles of dust from pit excavation and when its really windy it turns into a huge dust storm. We got a face full of grit when we were there and I wouldn't like to be there when it gets worse. Water is really expensive here its $5au for 1000 litres (others pay 70c) a lot of people don't have running water and have to use a coin operated tap.

We went on a guided tour of the town with a strange woman who repeated everything she said about 4 times, just in case we missed it the first 3 times I guess? We went to St Peter St Paul's underground church which was cosy. I should just mention the majority of the houses are built into rocky hills rather than directly below. They have front doors into the hills and it reminded me of the hobbits but not so pretty an area. We visited Umoona Opal Mine and show home, which was actually someone's house and looked very 1970's, judge for yourself but leopard print sofas?!?!

Opals were actually discovered here by a teenage boy who was meant to be looking after camp while his dad and mate went in search of water, which they never found. The boy got bored and wondered off and not only found the much needed water but opals as well. Lucky him, we went noodling (searching for opals) and found nothing! And there was me expecting to fund the rest of my trip with my findings.

We went for a drive over to The Breakaways Reserve passing through an area they call the Moon Plane where they filmed Pitch Black (if only I had been here to meet Vin Diesel!). Also Mad Max 3 and Pricilla Queen of the Desert were filmed around here. The Breakaways are lots of colourful cliffs and hills, quite impressive.

That night we had dinner at a Greek restaurant where we were also introduced to Aussie Football. Our guides team was playing and they won so we celebrated at the towns only underground bar. I won the first round of killer which we introduced to everyone (thanks Alex). Then wandered back singing 'we are the champions' to our underground bunkhouse, which was huge. In the photo each curtained area holds 4 beds. So far we've slept under the stars and underground.
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