I can hardly believe a whole week has gone by since I wrote my last blog entry, back in Coober Pedy. And boy, have we clocked up the kilometers, packed in the adventures and seen some amazing sights in that time.
Before we left Coober Pedy on Monday a week ago, we went to visit the underground home and mine that I mentioned in my last blog that was dug by three women back in the 60s. Faye and her two cohorts are regarded as local heroes in that town … not only did they dig out an underground mansion … well that might be exaggeration, but certainly a lovely home complete with swimming pool, granny flat, two bedrooms, a kitchen, lounge dining area and bar, but they also mined for opal with apparent success. Faye first introduced tourism to Coober Pedy, opened a café/restaurant, drove tour buses, ran an Opal shop that gave demonstrations on polishing and cutting, bought the town its first Mine Rescue Vehicle, and so the story goes on, and on, and on. I am quite accustomed to energetic women and their heroic deeds, but by the time we had spent a couple of hours at
In Faye's Mine ...
holding a $60,000 chunk of opal
Faye’s place and in her mine, even I was feeling just a tad overwhelmed and exhausted.
Down in her mine, we got to hold, and be photographed with, a lump of opal found down there said to be worth $60,000. Closest I will ever come to holding that much I reckon, and in such a small package. Imagine what she took out of the mine if she was happy to leave behind a chunk worth $60,000 just to give the tourists a thrill.
Anyway, come the next day we set said north away from Coober Pedy with the intention of spending two nights on the road before reaching Kings Canyon. Our first night we free camped on what was obviously private property, but in a lovely setting just off the highway and north of Marla by about 50 kms. We had the place to ourselves, apart from the very well intentioned young man who was apparently an employee of the owner of said land on which we were camped who dropped by to say that the old fella who owned this land was happy for us to be there, but would we please not continue up the side
road onto which we had turned because (the old fella) was tired of pulling tourists out of the bog and sand. We happily replied that we had no intention of heading in that direction, and he happily retreated in a cloud of dust similar to the one in which he had arrived.
Moonlight radiated all around us that evening, rising in its almost full state close on the heels of the setting sun disappearing. And the next morning we were lured out of our beds with the rising sun because the grasses and trees around us we so beautiful in that early morning light. After a hearty breakfast, we hit the highway again heading for the Northern Territory border and the roadhouse of Kulgera just on the other side of it. Certain members of our travelling party had forgotten that fresh produce was not supposed to be carried across the border and had stocked up in Coober Pedy. Hummm, you should ask Lou and Maureen what cooked mandarins taste like when we return. Better than tossing them into a bin though.
As it happened, there was no inspection station at the border … northern territory relies on
travelers honesty not to carry pests into their territory. Kulgera was just a roadhouse, and while we stopped and had a bite of lunch, we were soon travelling again with Elrunda in our sight. Happy to have phone coverage again and knowing that once we left there would be no more coverage at Kings Canyon, we decided to stop within the reach of the Telstra wave length and made an early stop just a little way up the Lasseter Highway.
Next morning we headed off on a fairly long trek to Kings Canyon. Out here, once the sun reaches its noon day peak, us old girls find the going pretty tough … driving with that sun pouring in through the windscreen really takes its toll. But it was a pretty drive and we made Kings Canyon about midafternoon. What a lovely retreat … we stayed here for four nights and I confess that for two of the three days we had there I did not even start the car. The swimming pool was a welcome oasis … very very cold, but oh so refreshing in the noonday sun. And good for me to be able to stretch out and
morning light colour
north of Marla campsite
exercise by swimming.
We walked up the Kings Canyon gorge the first morning. Just beautiful. Tall coolibah trees, holly grevillea in flower, lots of honey eaters and some other bird life, beautiful canyon walls, rocks, people coee-ing down at us from the rim above, flies, more flies (don’t worry we all have nets to cover our faces), and free wifi at the entrance to the Canyon – pity it was so slow. I tried to send an email but after 26 minutes I gave up.
Thursday 11 May was Lou’s birthday. So we duly celebrated throughout the day. Started with an abundance of little presses about breakfast time, then the walk up the Canyon. A nice sleep for the birthday girl in the afternoon, and then we gathered at the resort Bar for a cool cider in the late afternoon. Dinner was a lavish affair cooked on a BBQ provided by the park that actually worked. We had balloons, silly kid’s blowers and party hats (thanks Maureen), gin and tonic to wash down our dinner, and … wait for it, birthday cake that travelled all the way from Coober Pedy with candles that would not blow out. We
Evening sunset stroll
had our dinner in a very public spot in the center of the caravan park, and everyone passing by joined in with birthday wishes and enquiries as to who was the birthday girl. There is a very silly video on someone’s tablet of Lou and I cracking up when we were blowing these silly blowers into each other’s face. And another of Lou cracking up because the birthday candles would not blow out.
A good night was had by us all. Lots of walking followed over the next couple of days through the surrounding arid lands of the resort. I managed to capture some lovely bird photos, especially of the zebra finches that live in this part of the world in abundance.
Maureen was the only one of our party who managed to be fit enough to walk the rim of the Canyon. Lou is still sporting a foot injury that was bothering her before we left home, and I managed to get a very nasty blister on my foot while walking up the canyon on the first morning. So we lived vicariously through Maureen’s experience of the rim walk … between you and me, I am thankful
Mulga ant nest
At Elrunda camp site. These ants protect their nest by building a levy all around to stop rainwater entering. We liked the way they decorate the levy.
I did not try after listening to her recounting her three and a half hours up top. I feel my experience last year looking down from the rim of the Grand Canyon gave me as much experience as I need for rim walking. I was most content with my time meandering through the canyon floor.
This morning as we left we spent an hour and a bit walking into Kathleen Springs. That was a very different experience, but delightful. The highlights of that for me were the hundreds of zebra finches that filled the trees and skies and the Butcher Birds with the most melodious and beautiful songs that greeted us in the car park and then escorted us well into the canyon before they left us to it.
Tonight we are free camped at Curtain Springs. We got our first look at a big rock as we drove here this afternoon, Mt Connor, which a lot of people apparently mistake for Uluru. Tomorrow we will complete our trek to Uluru … just a mere 90 kms up the highway now. We will stay there for three nights, and no doubt I will have lots more to recount
and more photos to share when the time comes for us to leave and move again.
Till then ……. Enjoy my photos.
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