Travelling around Australia in a motorhome. A story of our travels starting from NSW then through Queensland, across to Northern Territory and Western Australia, then to South Australia, Victoria and finally across the seas to Tasmania. We have enjoyed everywhere we have visited and look forward to setting off again in our motorhome.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Coober Pedy 3 – 7 June 2006

Had a long drive to Coober Pedy and camped in the side yard of Albert and Phyl, two CMCA members who offer this spot with power and water for $5 night to help fulfil their ideal of going off in their motorhome. Sadly it is just sitting in the yard getting rusty. Quite a few other motorhomes camped, so it gave us a good chance to catch up with a variety of people around the fire. Wandered up and down the main street (which didn’t take long) and went for a drive among the opal fields. Coober Pedy is a larger than Andamooka and has a greater supply of opals, with lots of shops selling them. There is a lot to see, including the dugouts. These dugouts are scattered around the surrounding hills and while some are converted from mines, most are purpose built. The miner excavates a hole into the side of a cliff and proceeds to hollow out a large house, connects ventilation pipes, electricity and water and vole – an instant home! They even build their churches underground! We visited one old miner called Crocodile Harry who is the character that Crocodile Dundee was supposedly based on. He has lived in this mine for 30 years and is alleged to have made a good fortune here. The strange part was looking at the photos of him in the fifties looking like Tarzan wrestling crocs and now as an 81 year old with obvious cancer and not long to go. I asked him about his life and he offered that he had lived his life completely the way he wanted and did not believe many people do that. I would imagine he must have been a big womaniser and found out from others he had a wife for a few minutes! He has had his very unusual home open for visitors and it is completely filled with painting, sculptures, memorabilia from thousands of international visitors, with the walls covered in writing. It was a Salvador Dali feel and so unique.
There are lots of aborigines in town from the surrounding areas and it was rather sad to see them hopelessly shuffling around town begging from the tourists. They would not really need the money because they do have welfare but we doubt that they would have much in their wallets because of the drinking and gambling. This is dry town, what ever that means, and you can’t buy sherry or a cask until after 3pm. We have tried to be friendly and acknowledge them but they don’t try and connect. There were about 500 Aboriginals here until last year, when 400 came in from some other settlement and upset the balance. The new comers are apparently the more restless ones. None of them came from this area as it is so desolate and not traditional land. We understand that the string of springs along the Oodnadatta track was traditional land and explains the movement of the tribes into central Australia along the natural waterways. It is such a complex unsolved problem and sad to observe the undignified existence that currently exists. Other travellers tell us that we will be sorry to see the state of affairs as we travel north.


Post a Comment

<< Home