There was a slight frost overnight. We left around 8.30am, travelling on the Stuart Highway. This country continues to amaze and surprise us. After driving through some very flat and unintersting land as far as the eye could see either side, we suddenly came upon treed areas (albeit rather small trees owing to the lack of rainfall in this area) and some more large salt lakes. Lake Harp was absolutely huge. Where the lakes or large creeks were drying out there was salt encrusted everywhere. So although the scene was pleasant, the water was useless.
We continued on until we reached a small caravan park just 5kms south of Coober Pedy. It is situated on a mine and at 7pm each night takes groups of tourists for tours of the nearby mine. As I am writing this Ian, Bruce and Linda are on this tour. I declined to go — I am not one for going down mines!!!
Everything is so different here. There is no water available at the Van Park – fortunately we all have sufficient supply in our tanks. There are warnings everywhere about being careful to stay on roads and walking tracks as there are unseen mine shafts everywhere. The town has over 2,000 residents and when we went into the town it is just like any other apart from the fact there is the occasional underground house dug into the rock — the only visible signs being the various pipes coming out of the ground (vents for air, toilets etc.). It is believed over 50% of the town’s residents live underground. The reception room here at the Van Park is part of an underground house and the lady told us the temp. inside stays at a constant 23 degrees all day, every day! As there was a cold wind blowing outside at the time it sounded perfect. After all the rain we had been through in the past few months, she said they have had no rain and would desperately like to get some to fill water tanks etc.
We drove into the town and had a look at a few of the Opal displays around. All of them were underground and they were very well set out. There were displays explaining all the aspects of opals from how they are formed, to when they were discovered here at Coober Pedy, and how they are polished and prepared for jewellery etc. They are not a cheap item to buy with many priced well into the thousands of $’s. The Underground Hotel was very plush. There is also a restaurant there but it is quite expensive we were told. We shopped at the local IGA. The locals believe this is one of the best things to have happened to the town as they now receive fresh produce so much more regularly. We found the store no different to anywhere else so it is good for the town.
The friends we met in Port Augusta were staying here at this Van Park so we have been able to catch up with them once more.
We plan to stay for another night at least as there as many more sights to see here.
Love to all, Janese and Ian