Desert Ship Territory Log Day 5
We started the day with an organised tour which I felt was a waste of money as the tour guide told us everything I had read in the tourist bureau yesterday and all the places we went to we could have gone to ourselves. One thing I did notice and was verified by our ex Opal Miner, tour guide, who looked about 85, had a German accent and walked with an unmistakable miner's stoop, was that the population of about 2000 was represented by 45 different nationalities. So far I have not come across one Australian. In this respect, Coober Pedy is so full of juxtapositions on so many levels. Where do I start. So Australian and so multicultural all simultaneously. I don't think there is a designated dump here as everyone just seems to have hoarded at least 70 years worth of junk in their front yards and I don't think they seem to have the yellow sticker thing going on either (Western Australian mark for an unroadworthy vehicle). Of course this is a photographer's delight with so many jalopies on the side of the road with any remaining car doors flapping in
the voracious wind that was present today. Or is it he left over props from some several movies ago, the stray dogs, the underground Serbian church and the grave in a local business' car park?
After our tour finished we went back to the motel for lunch. After lunch we when to Tom's Working Underground Mine which I really enjoyed. We went underground and got to see the tools of the trade and learned all about how everything works with regards to mining claims and any other questions we had. The kids got to go on a shaft winch. One thing which surprised me is that no large companies are allowed to peg claims, only partnerships. There are about two million mine shafts here so rule number one is do not step backwards when taking photos. After that we treated ourselves to a coffee in an Underground Cafe. Once again, alarm bells should have rang when nobody else was in there. The Italian/Croatian guy looked so happy to see us and quickly got his tray of rocks out so the kids could take their pick of ones loaded with opals of course. After he served us our drinks he
belted out some gutteral tribal tunes on an authenic didgeridoo better than any elder at a corroboree. I just about fell off my chair. He did his best to flog us some authentic dot paintings and we didn't get much change from $50 for 2 coffees and 2 milk shakes, yes fleeced again (there is a pattern emerging here) and I promise never to complain about the price of a coffee in Western Australia again). We then got some much needed supplies from the local IGA such as a couple of picks so that the boys could go noodling again while I went off to take more pictures of jalopies and moonscapes of mullock heaps about 15km out of town. The kids are pretty scared of encountering Mick Taylor of "Wolf Creek" fame here in the outback so I though I better head back in case they thought I'd been kidnapped by him or fallen down a mine shaft.
By the time I picked them up they looked like they'd just crossed the Simpson Desert, covered in dust that had been galing across the gibber plain today. But they had fun and so did I. We then
took the kids to get a pizza from John's Pizza Bar which we took back to the motel, dropped them off and then took off on our own for a romantic dinner for our 14th wedding anniversary today. It is the first time we have ever been out for our anniversary without the kids. We told the kids not to open the door for Mick Taylor. As tempting as the Pizza place was with it's award winning smell and star studded walls of pictures with TV personalities, we thought we'd try the local hotel hich looked more up market and spread the $ around. It just so happened that just as we pulled up at the hotel, opposite to us was the Greyhound bus depot where a group of rather loud locals disembarked from Alice Springs (probably after a court case from a gruesome murder where someone's head got bashed in with a rock 12 times as we heard on the local ABC news later). As we got out of the car, there were also some wild life yelling and pulling each other's hair outside the dimly lit hotel. After a brief look through the window, the Steve Earle lyric
from Copperhead Road "only come to town 'bout twaarce a year" rugged station types were all I could see. Upon our hasty retreat were accosted by a local pulling out a couple of rocks from his pocket and trying to flog them to us in the dark as if they were crystal meth "you wanna buy opal". Reminscant of being caught up in South East LA's gang land we quickly jumped in the trusty Territory, central locked the doors and made a quick get away to the safety of John's Pizza Bar. This place was more in our comfort zone with plenty of tourists, expat coppers and the rest of Coober Pedy' s population. All in all it was a very romantic evening concluding with me typing my blog on my tablet when I should've stared lovingly into my husband's eyes. One thing is for certain though, I am totally loving our outback adventure, am going to miss Coober Pedy and can certainly understand the attraction it holds for so many people who come for a few days and stay for decades.
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