Day three of my road-trip to Uluru has been a break from driving. Pulled into Coober Pedy last night, for a two night stopover. Now I’m doing another late night backseat blog post on my android phone. This time the additional challenge is Jack Daniels – I’ve had a few bourbons to chase away the chill, so apologies for typos.
I visited a few underground museums today, as well as other sights. I’ve been to Coober Pedy a few times on work trips, but it was nice to see the sights with friends today.
After visiting a few tourist sites, I dropped them off for some noodling (i.e. to go through dirt mounds, looking for opals). Meanwhile, I visited the underground bookstore. Lots of shops are built underground here, and half of the 3,500 residents live underground.
As a rockhound, I find this town fasinating. However, I’m not comfortable with opals. Its weird, I know. There is something not quite right with how humans have destroyed this land in search of colourful rocks. All around me are mounds of displaced earth. Opals are so pretty, but…
Australia produces 95% of the world’s opals, and where I am accounts for most of that. Opals are alluring, pretty and sometimes valuable. Its easy to get the fever; wanting to find that vein that will make all your dreams come true.
Coober Pedy, the town, turns a hundred next year. The name of the town comes from the Aboriginal phrase ‘kupi peti’, meaning ‘white man in a hole’. How quick it must have been from amusement of seeing Europeans digging around for colourful rocks to feeling the gut wrenching impact of the destruction of their land. I can’t even imagine how that would feel for the traditional owners, who have lived here for tens of thousands of years. Which is why I don’t feel comfortable possessing opals.
Eons before First Nations People walked this land, and even before mega fauna existed, this area lay under an ancient ocean. 120 million+ years ago this area was an inland sea, not the water-scarce desert it now is. In this ocean lived massive aquatic dinosaurs. I saw some of their fossils today. Sort of puts things into perspective when you see signs of life that old.
Well, the day has come to an end. Tomorrow night I will make camp over the border, in Northern Territory. Before I turn in, I should explain the photo – it has nothing to do with Coober Pedy. I took this photo yesterday, at the Lake Hart look-out. This colourful van was pulling out as I got in, and I couldn’t resist the picture opportunity. Firstly, from envy. He’s set up looks more comfy than my backseat bed. And secondly, because this is the type of quirkiness I love about travelling through outback Australia. I’ve since found out that he is a travelling iconic artist/musician. Google ‘Chookman on Tour’ to find out more.
Now, bedtime for me as another day on the road awaits me tomorrow.
PS I don’t think that was too bad for writing under the influence. Maybe a re-read in the morning will prove me wrong. At least I’ve warmed up!