Roxby Downs power supply
These power lines cover the distance from Woomera to Roxby Downs. At this point they crossed the highway we were travelling and presented an attractive scene with their converging lines.
It’s not called the Nullabor out here, but it should be in my view. I have never seen such a “treeless” landscape, even when I drove the Nullabor on my way to the West a couple of years ago. I’m in opal country again … but Coober Pedy is a very tidy “opal” town by comparison to others I’ve seen. Perhaps it’s just that it is more commercial given that it sits on the one and only highway running from south to north right through the center of this sunburnt land. Or perhaps it is that the scale of the mining taking place is much grander … out here they use some pretty hefty machinery. Long gone are the days of the shovel and pick axe, although that is the way it was done ‘back in the day’. Discarded broken rusted machinery or implements that scatter the landscape and mullock heaps in places like White Cliffs and Andamooka are missing here.
But I am getting ahead of myself. We left Roxby Downs two days ago, headed back past Woomera to join the Stuart Highway again and then turned north once more. We spent one night free camping on the edge
of a small salt pan tucked nicely away from both sight and sound of the highway, just north of Glandambo. This campsite was the first at which we had collectively as a travelling trio been able to have a campfire and it was fabulous … a lovely not too cold evening, with a beautiful sunset sky.
Our drive that day took us through many variations of vegetation and topography. But gradually the trees got smaller and fewer. They have had quite a wet season out here and everything is a lot greener and more lush looking than I was expecting. And there is water, a lot of water, lying on the ground and in the various Lakes that we passed that day. Lake Hart was our lunch stop and while on the map this is just a small body of water in comparison to Lake Torrens and some others, it was nevertheless extensive … as far as the eye could see in fact with some lovely reflections as you will see from the photos.
On the second day of our drive towards Coober Pedy, the trees eventually disappeared altogether. And we were surrounded by a full 360 degree
Stuart Highway towards Coober Pedy
Like ants crawling across the face of planet earth, so did we travel the Stuart Highway
ring of horizon. The highway seemed to be a gradual but very steep ascent the whole way and there were several occasions on which I felt as if we would just drive off the edge of planet earth when we reached the summit of the next hill or horizon. Of course, we never reached that summit … but just kept climbing. In my mind I could see myself looking down on our little convoy of two Hiaces and a small motorhome as if from outer space, and I was most amused to perceive us as ants moving around the circular edge of Earth. In any event, it was an interesting day of travel … not only uphill, but also into a quite strong headwind with absolutely nothing to break it … so petrol consumption that day was not as good as it has been.
Coober Pedy is a fascinating place. I spent a couple of hours today just walking the main street, and popping into underground cafes, art galleries, opal showrooms and hotels. Everything is shiny. And the people are very friendly and willing to share their knowledge of opals with ignorant tourists like me.
The highlight of
Shawl in the sky
Beautiful cloud formations ... like a white shawl spread across the face of the sun.
today though was a sunset tour of the Breakaways with George, the proprietor of the Oasis Caravan Park where we are staying. We left here at 3.30pm and did not return until almost 7pm by which time it was well and truly dark. We drove across the gibber plain (that is not a name, but a term that describes the topography and country side through which we travelled), stopped and examined at close quarters the Dog Fence which when built was over 9,000 miles long and had the reputation of being the longest fence in the world. Then we drove up to, past, around and onto the Breakaways themselves – how can I describe them? They are all that is left of mountainous peaks that were once surrounded by the mysterious Australian Inland Sea. George, our tour guide, produced rocks for us to examine that contained fossils and other evidence of that long gone body of water. The Breakaways reminded me of the colours and geographic formations I saw in Death Valley, USA last year. And because we were there for sunset, these colours were constantly changing, getting deeper, richer minute by minute throughout the afternoon.
As the sun
dropped closer to, and finally below the horizon, George produced a hot blueberry muffin (which he alleged he had kept warm on the manifold of our vehicle – he has a very dry sense of humour and can tell a tale with a very straight face to the point where you are not sure if you should believe him or not) for each of us and then poured us a cup of peppermint and lime tea. What a life.
So it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable day. We all agree we like Coober Pedy very much. One more day and night here; time for a couple of mine tours, a visit to Faye’s underground home and mine (Faye and two other women single handedly dug out this home which is apparently a mansion using shovel and pick back in the 60s – they are quite legendary women and well regarded by locals, so I look forward to seeing this and learning more of their lives) and then we will be off again … we plan to take three nights to reach Kings Canyon and no doubt by that time, I will have lots more photos to share.
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