Thie weirdest place in the world

Trip Start Sep 07, 2011
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Trip End Sep 06, 2012


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Flag of Australia  , South Australia,
Thursday, January 19, 2012

What a weird nights sleep I had.  As there were no doors to the room, every time someone walked past or I heard a noise, I woke up.  There was some guy staying here that was either off his face on smoke or very drunk and he kept walking past.  I don't think he was taking any notice of me, to be honest, I don't think he really knew where he was, but it was just a little unnerving!  The other thing was that when I checked in, I was given a pillow case cover and a bottom sheet and nothing else.  Generally when you stay at hostels, either the bed is already made or you get given everything to make the bed, including a Duna (duvet) cover.  They don't here.  Good job I brought my sleeping bag liner with me otherwise I wouldn't have anything to cover me.  I also woke up about 2.30 am as I was a little cold so I had to improvise and use the bottom sheet as a normal sheet to keep me warm.  The other funny thing was when you woke up, you had no clue what time of day it was as you are underground and everything is dark.  I think it was about 8.30 am when I finally dragged my sore bones out of bed.  I think they need to change the mattresses as I could feel the wooden bars holding the bunks together!  When I came up to have breakfast, I opened the door and the heat hit me. It's gonna be a scorcher today.

I decided to have a little walk around the town this morning as I had booked onto a tour this afternoon.  The first thing I visited was Coober Pedy's football ground which is home to the Saint's.  I think I have found the new ground for Bristol Rovers.  It seats about 8 people and has enough room in the car park for about 100 cars.  More than enough room I think.  They even allow you to walk your dogs on the grass.  Mr Stone - Can you let them know and I can put a bid in for them!!!!!

I went in to most of the opal shops to look at the gorgeous stones.  They really are beautiful.  I went in to one particular shop which was run by a Greek family.  The shop was called Opalios (Opal for the precious stone and Ios is a Greek Island and means fever - Opal Fever!).  The woman was very kind and let me take a lucky stone for free and also gave me a box of chippings which could contain any sort of opal, all you have to do is follow the instructions on the box on how to clean and store them.  Come on, if there was anything worth a lot of money, they would have already taken it, but it was nice of her to give it to me.  She was asking me if there was anything I liked which there was and she got them out to show me.  We started taking about Greece and I explained that I had Greek heritage.  How spooky that her name was Stella!  Stella was my nan's name who was born in Andros, Greece.  They had some lovely stones and guess what, I picked out the most expensive ones without her even telling me.  They were my favourite.  They were both Black Opals (not black in colour by the way) and solid.  I can't afford both the earrings and necklace, but I might go back in the morning and try and barter with them.  If not, I may buy one of them with the Christmas money I received.

The tour this afternoon left at 1pm and our driver was Phil.  He definately looked like he was from the outback.  Skinny and a full on beard.  No Crocodile Dundee hat though, very disappointing!  We started off by driving through the town and Phil telling us a little of its history.  There are around 3,000 people that live here, but about half leave in the summer months and head south where it is a little cooler as extreme temperatures can get over 50 degrees daily.  Even that's too hot for me.

Along the roadsides and across the fields, you will see many lumps of rubble. This is not rubble but the aftermath of the diggers that have blown this from the ground looking for opals.  He asked us how many we thought there were, and I guessed hundreds of thousands.  The lowest estimated, as no one really knows the answer, is in the millions.  The machinery that is used to dig and blow the dirt from the ground looks pretty prehistoric for today, but they certainly do the job.  We didn't see anyone in action as they only work early in the morning and late at night when it is cool.  I think the temperature when we went out was about 39 degrees and it was pretty hot!  We made a stop at an underground church which was pretty odd.  I tell you what though, it was a pleasure to walk in as it is so cool.  They have the right idea here.  The church is one of 4 others that are underground and is open to the public.

The next stop was the oddest of them all.  Coober Pedy Golf Course.  It is 18 holes, but I really haven't a clue how you play here.  Not because of the heat, but there is absolutely no grass and just dirt.  The greens are black dust.  We had a look from tee 1 and I could not work out where the hell you were supposed to hit the ball.  Nigel - This would be one for you!!!!  No one plays in the summer as it is too hot, but some do play at night with illuminous balls.  God knows what colour balls they play with during the day.  Maybe green, as there is nothing else out here that is!

Taking a long drive through the dangerous opals fields (we were not allowed to get out of the bus as there are mine shafts everywhere and also hidden ones which people have been killed falling down), we stopped to noodle.  What's noodling I hear you say.  It is basically sifting through the stones and rubble to look for opals.  We were never going to find anything of value, but we did find chips.  They were very hard to find as a lot of what we thought were opals, were bitumen.  It glistens in the sunlight and looks lovely, but it is worthless.  There is so much bitumen in the area, it was getting very frustrating, but we eventually found some.  I kept mine and will give them a good wash.  I found a blue one (a bit like the black opal I want to buy in the shop) which is what I was hoping to find.  Don't think I will be able to make it in to anything but it's good to keep.

The next stop was unbelievable and I just don't know how to describe it.  The photos again won't do it justice.  We visited Crocodile Harry's home.  Crocodile Harry was born in Latvia and moved to the Northern Territories to hunt Crocodiles, hence the name.   He was also a Baron!  He decided to move down here for the opal mining.  He married a lovely well educated Australian lady.  However, she may be well educated, but not intelligent.  Crocodile Harry loved to drink, and he would be completely wasted most nights.  He also had an eye for the lady's and he didn't even try to hide it from his wife.  To say the marriage didn't last long was an understatement.  Anyway, Crocodile Harry built his home underground and started mining around it.  He had women come and stay with him all the time.  I explain more in a second.

We first looked around some of the tunnels that were dug for the opal mining.   In there we had to be quite as there were microbats that were living in there.  We did spot them and managed to get a few photos before they started flying at us as they heard our voices and got scared.  We weren't frightened at all as they were so small, it was quite funny.  After looking around the mine, we went into the house.  Words cannot describe what it looked like inside.  As soon as you walk through the door, there are women's knickers and bra's pinned up on the wall.  There is writing all over the walls in the house from women and men who have stayed there over the years, along with weird carvings and ornaments.  It was the weirdest thing I have ever seen in my life, and the outside definately looked like a scene from Mad Max.

Part of the desert we drove through was used in the film Max Mad III.  There are props left from Pitch Black, a crashed spaceship which is in one of the car parks.  Priscilla Queen of the Desert was filmed here - I have to see this film as everyone raves about it.  If you haven't watched it, go get it.

We also drove through the Breakaways which are believed to have broken away from the Stuart Ranges, again, how it got is name.  The flat top of the hills are believed to be the top of where the old ocean just to be, millions of years ago.  It was an unbelievable sight.  The other unique feature we saw was the dog fence, or dingo fence.  This is the largest man made construction in the world.  It stretches over 5300 kms and covers 4 states, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.  It keeps the dingoes to the north side of Australia as they kill the sheep.  They are a hassle everywhere and the farmers in the north really don't want them, as they can kill calves, not from a bite, but from infection.  Not much you can do there really.  We drove back to Coober Pedy via unsealed roads and through an area which they call Moon Plain as it looks a little bit like the surface of the moon.  I didn't quite spot that as what I saw in Lanzarote looked more like the moon.

To top the day off, after I dropped off, I went back down the road to a lady's house who takes in orphan joeys and kangaroo, where their mothers have been killed, either by trucks on the road, or by Aboriginal people who still hunt them for food.  They were so cute.  They had 5 grown kangaroo, only one is going to be sent back out into the wild, one is going to a sanctuary, and the other 3 will live there for the rest of their lives.  There were 3 joeys around 4 months old.  They were gorgeous. They were carried out in what looked like dog carriers (a bit like you see the posh pups carried around in by celebrities).  Within the bag, they were in a little handmade pouch, so this mimicked their life inside their mum's pouch.  I witnessed the funniest thing ever  When they wanted to get back into the pouch, and it was obvious when they did, the lady lowered the pouch and the joey did a forward roll into the pouch. I did film it as I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  This is exactly how they get into their mum's pouch!!  She also told us how they live in the house and one of the grown kangaroo sleeps on the bed.  They really did act like little children, being naughty and mischievous.  I want one!  I said what a wonderful job she does and she said she is the luckiest person alive as she gets to live and interactive with these animals and be part of their lives.  She does this out of the kindness of her heart and gets no funding.  I would love to do something like this.

So that was my full day in Coober Pedy. The most weirdest and wonderful place.  I could never live here, but I am so glad I came to visit.

Some more interesting facts about Coober Pedy. It is known as the opal mining capital of the world.

The follow films have been filmed here:

Fire in the Stone, Where the Green Ants Dream, Ground Zero, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, The Salute of the Jugger, Stark, Until the end of the World, Priscilla Queen Of the Desert, Siam Sunset, The Drovers Boy, Pitch Black, Red Planet, Kangaroo Jack & Opal Dreaming!

That's it for now folks.  Long drive ahead of me tomorrow.  Not going straight back to Adelaide.  I think I might stop off at the Flinders Ranges which is about 3 hours north of Adelaide for an overnight stop and look at the beauty that this has to offer before I stay one more night in Adelaide!
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