Smithsdownunder
Our journeys around Australia

20-Nov-2004
     

Now I know that some of you are getting fed up with pictures of beaches so, just for you (and Ali), we have headed 600kms north, in towards the centre of Australia to visit Coober Pedy. We had intended to make the journey in two hops by stopping off at Woomera. We got to Woomera around midday and there was no one there. The place used to be an Air Force base where they tested rockets so we looked at the space museum but there wasn't much else of interest so we decided to press on to Coober Pedy.

Island Lagoon

On the way up the Stuart Highway, we passed Island Lagoon, which is a large salt lake with a conical island in it.

  

Coober Pedy is the world's largest producer of opals. It's a ramshackle town that resembles a very dusty scrap yard.

This is where he took me for my birthday. Yes he's still full of surprises!!

Coober Pedy
Underground Home A lot of the people and businesses live underground in the old mines. There are hotels, shops and churches all underground. Temperatures in the summer are in the 40-50's so living underground has the advantage of providing a nice cool environment all year around. We visited a few underground places and they are very nice inside.
This was the entrance to the underground rectory alongside the underground Anglican Church. I suppose you could call it the secular hub of Coober Pedy! The Secular Hub?
Coober Pedy Opal Mines Outside of the town is just a mass of mines that stretch for tens of kilometres. The mines are holes in the ground with a big heap of rubble alongside them. All the holes are left open and as they are 30-40mtrs deep, so it's quite dangerous to go wandering around.

Beyond the mines, the landscape resembles that of the moon. Several post-holocaust movies have been filmed here such as 'Mad Max III' and 'Ground Zero'. We drove out 170kms into the desert on a track that led to the 'Painted Desert'. The drive took us across the 'Moon Plain', which is absolutely empty, just black ironstones and not much else.

Lucky Ali didn't ask me to find a bush!

Moon Planes
The Dog Fence The 'Dog Fence' crossed the track. This fence is the longest in the world and stretches from 'Surfers Paradise' in Queensland, 5600kms to 'The Bight' in South Australia. The fence keeps the dingoes and cattle to the north from the sheep in the south.
It keeps the bears out as well! (But the little one got through). Beard in the Dog Fence
Pricilla and the Painted desert sign

Eventually we got to the Painted Desert. The scenery here is amazing, colourful hills rising out of the empty plains. Another film that was made here was 'Pricilla, Queen of the Desert'.

Our Pricilla just had to have her picture taken here.

Here are some of the views: Views of the Painted Desert
Views of the Painted Desert   
For our next stop, we were hoping that we might take a short cut to William Creek to pick up the Oodnadatta Track that would take us down to the Flinders Ranges but the road is not suitable for towing our caravan along. So tomorrow we have to retrace our steps back to Port Augusta and decide where we go next. Views of the Painted Desert