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Emu Expedition Outback Australia Part 2 Continued

We awoke early on the 12th Sept after a beautiful relaxing sleep, on the first night of our stay in the underground accommodation of Coober Pedy.

Tiredness from the previous days long exhausting driving journey had seemed to fade.

I think this was replaced with the enthusiasm of our first days exploration, of this unique opal mining town.

We took a couple of hours driving around the town, not that it takes that long, it can only be described as a unique Australian mining town and community.

Apart from two supermarkets and a pub and a couple of restaurants and takeaways, it is predominantly a tourist town now. There are quite a number of shops selling opal throughout the town.

There are underground churches, an underground book shop and an underground museum.

I will go into detail on each of these in a later blog.

I now invite you to a pictorial overview of this very interesting town, this will give you an idea of how the township is laid out, and the various styles of housing, and maybe you can imagine how this town gave birth to becoming the greatest source of opals throughout the world.

These pictures were taken from various sites around the town.

You will notice many abandoned cars and machinery, the cars were originally operational but over time it was impossible to repair them or service them, they were patched up until the death knell fell.

The larger mining equipment such as the blowers on the trucks, (looks like large drums), they lie neglected for various reasons.

The drums are actually blowers which suck the rubble out of the mines after borehole drilling has taken place.

Mining is primarily done by big corporations now, but many locals still operate mines on a smaller scale.

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 photo IMG_0070_zps81b6e5f7.jpgThe next two picture are taken in the township of Coober Pedy .

They are actual props that were used in the movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

For those that might recall the movie it starred Mel Gibson and Tina Turner.

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I would like you to meet this beautiful desert flower known as Sturt’s Desert pea.

The flower grows in the dry arid outback and has become the South Australian floral emblem.

The flower is referred to as the ‘Flower of Blood’ by some Koori groups. This title comes from the legend which tells of a young woman who escaped marriage to an elderly gentleman by eloping with her younger lover. The shunned man and some of his friends tracked the couple down after some years and killed them both, as well as the relatives with whom they had lived. Sometime later, the old man returned to the place where he had slain the lovers and found the ground covered with the scarlet flowers that we know as the Sturt’s Desert pea.

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 Finally to round of my blog, I did do some fossicking and did find a small piece of opal,size enough for a pretty ladies ring,apart from that I also was able to extract a large crystalline rock from the ground, beautiful to look at in the sunlight, rather fragile as I think it is in the process of becoming crystal.Hope you have enjoyed my pictures and story of our trip of exploration to Coober Pedy, the Opal capital of the world. I will continue our journey in upcoming posts.

Keep smiling,

regards Emu

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23 Comments

Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Emu Expedition Outback Australia Part 2

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The second leg of our journey to the outback opal mining town of Coober Pedy, began in the early hours of the 11th Sept.

This part of the trip would take us over 5 hours and 34 minutes, covering a distance of 539.6 kilometres. Once outside the outskirts of Port Augusta, the Stuart highway opened up before us.

539 kilometres of virtually a straight highway, a highway that disappeared into the horizon and you could see approximately ten kilometres ahead.

The landscape either side of the car, became a barren dry panorama of low desert scrub land, as far as the eye could see.

We settled down for a long drive, comforted by cold drinks and an endless supply of music.

It took about an hour into the trip that we realised we needed frequents rest breaks, not through physical fatigue but mental fatigue.

The continuous straight line and barren scenery, was beginning to numb the mind and boredom was creeping in, not even the music could alleviate the monotony.

Henceforth we stopped every so often, just to move around outside of the car, even though the scene never changed from what we were seeing whilst driving.

 photo IMG_9999_zpsf96b20b6.jpgAfter 3 hours driving we arrived at Glendambo, the only refuelling place before Coober Pedy.

Glendambo consists of two garages supplying food and fuel, there is no fresh water available as all water here is from a local bore, so not fit for consumption, however fresh water, shipped in can be purchased at a hefty price.

It was here that I began to notice that the further we go outback, the higher the prices would be for essentials, particularly petrol.

We only stayed at Glendambo long enough to get something to eat, refuel the car and buy a fly net to wear over our hats, the flies were starting to become a problem.

Our next stop was to be Coober Pedy.

We listened to more of Kenny Rodgers songs again, but knew we were approaching Coober Pedy, by the mounds of dirt that was starting to mark the landscape, much like ant burrows.

Off in the distance we saw evidence of heavy mining being carried out by big corporations, their heavy mining equipment boring into the ground, and gouging the earth in search for the beautiful opal.

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 photo IMG_0006_zps50eb9379.jpg photo IMG_0009_zps900efa17.jpgIt was not long before we turned of the Stuart highway and drove into the township of Coober Pedy.

The township is well spread out, and the majority of the residents live in underground mines to escape the heat, aerials and ventilation shafts protruding like a science fiction moonscape.

The town has a number of garages and two supermarkets stocking all essentials for a mining community.

There is one pub called The Opal Inn,there are a number of underground Churches and shops and a museum, which I will share with you later.

There is a couple of restaurants, one Chinese and another Greek. There are many shops selling opals and local indigenous artefacts.

We checked out a couple of motels to stay at for 3 days and finally settled on The Desert View. photo IMG_0211_zpsd59b41de.jpg photo IMG_0209_zpsa8e5cd5a.jpg

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 photo IMG_0208_zps115646bf.jpg photo IMG_0029_zps9093a83a.jpg photo IMG_0025_zps79e64a45.jpgThe Desert View is managed by a lovely couple called Tony and Linda, and their little daughter.

 photo IMG_0207_zps443cd535.jpgTheir tariffs were more than reasonable and it was a pleasure to enjoy their hospitality.

Tony is well known throughout Coober Pedy, his knowledge of opal mining and the town itself , makes him quite an authority on the subject, in fact he is known on the opal fields as The Opal Whisperer, he can smell opal a mile away, and if you want to do some fossicking then be sure to get his advice, he will put you onto a site where you are guaranteed to find a great opal, that will grace your ladies ring finger.

 photo IMG_0016_zps94c4442b.jpg photo IMG_0018_zps7c8db877.jpg photo IMG_0021_zps05d5f1c6.jpg photo IMG_0014_zps10cc6409.jpgThe accommodation was roomy, cool and inviting, all amenities were supplied, there were two bedrooms, the master bedroom and a separate bedroom with three beds.

The whole unit extended back into the cliff face, it was lovely and cool, and a pleasure to listen to the silence.

We settled in for the next 3 days and looked forward to exploring this unique outback opal mining town of Coober Pedy.

Cheers

Catch you around the traps

Emu

 
30 Comments

Posted by on September 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Emu Expedition– Outback Australia– Part 1

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It was a warm sunny morning on Wednesday the 10th when we started our outback expedition.

We were heading into the vast dry arid Australian outback, to the Opal mining town in South Australia known as Coober Pedy, a distance of1,075 kilometres,taking over 11 hours driving.

By the time we returned to Mildura on the 17th, we had covered 2,621.4 kilometres taking a total time of 28 hours and 20 minutes.

There was no intention to drive straight through to Coober Pedy, it was impractical and needed an overnight stop at Port Augusta.

Port Augusta is situated on the quiet waterways at the head of the Spencer Gulf, in close proximity to the spectacular Flinders Ranges.

After an exhausting drive, we booked into a small motel that plainly catered for miners who were either coming from the opal mines, or going to the mines.

A deep sleep followed by an early breakfast, saw us depart Port Augusta for the final leg of the journey to Coober Pedy.

We were well prepared for this trip, on board was a Waeco fridge that was connected to the cars battery,I had also fitted a windscreen mounted video camera that recorded every time the car was moving, plus a usb with a couple of thousand songs to while away the monotony of the long straight Stuart highway, connecting Port Augusta to Coober Pedy. The other essentials that are fitted to the car is a Global positioning satellite system, as well as a Uhf two way radio.

The Australian outback can be unforgiving to the ill prepared or unwary. It is not uncommon to have sudden flash floods in otherwise dry river beds, and many areas are desolate for miles, in many cases you can drive many hours and not see another car on the long desolate roads.

Now to the purpose of our trip to the dry arid opal mining town in outback central Australia.

I had been through this area many many years ago, back in my army days when the roads were mainly dirt and gravel, I wanted to see the changes that had taken place over the years.

Also Ana had not seen our outback so I wanted to give her the experience of seeing a different landscape and part of Australia, as well as sleeping in underground mining shafts, the majority of the town lives underground due to the extreme heat. Water is at a premium here as well as food and fuel due to the transportation costs.

The other reason I wanted to visit the mining town was to go fossick and try my luck, my luck held out and after a few hours I had some results.

There is much to share from this expedition so I will post it in instalments as the trip progressed.

I leave you with some pictures of the road from Mildura through to the Stuart highway and Coober Pedy, these will show the varying landscapes as we travel further into the interior of Central Australia.

It is interesting to note that the Stuart highway to Coober Pedy is widened in sections, this is to provide a stable landing strip for the Royal Flying Doctor plane, Coober Pedy has no doctor, nor do the outlying vast stations.The only means of a Doctor is through the Flying doctor plane back to Port Augusta.

Cheers.

Emu

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30 Comments

Posted by on September 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Commemoration day Chile

Each year Chile Chile celebrates its independence day on the 18th of September, the day following the country celebrates its Armed Forces day or Commemoration day.

This day incorporates a parade where all the various Forces and units are displayed in a parade that lasts up to four hours.

I was fortunate to be in Chile in 2009 and witnessed the parade, a beautiful display of colourful uniforms and highly trained participants.

Not only is the Armed forces on parade, but many uniformed personnel from various Government departments, the Carabinerie, or as we know, Police were parading, various female units with precision marching. There were olden vehicles parading as well as many bands.

The military horse display with drummers astride the horses was spectacular, the beating of the drums on horseback was much like a trumpet call to battle.

The military search and rescue unit was fantastic, with their snow camouflaged uniforms, skis instead of rifles, and their Saint Bernard dogs with little barrels around their necks, made me realise that there was still a need for this unit in the snow capped Cordillera del los Andes.

The aircraft flyover was spectacular, ancient planes and choppers through to the modern crafts.

Overall a very great display of this small countries power and strength.

I want to share these pics with you that I rediscovered whilst going through my albums.

Cheers

Emu

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Posted by on September 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Rhonda Lee

 photo tonight.jpgRhonda Lee

Rhonda Lee

The Prettiest Girl

You Could Ever See

Full Body And Round

And Stacked To The Hilt

I Rode Her For Months

Through The Calmest Nights

And Weathered Her Days

Of Driving Passion

Together We Sought

The Bounty

From Her Briny Depths

Beneath Her Sturdy Body

She Would Sway

And Roll To And Fro

She Glided

And Carried Me

With Ease

Over The Creamy White Waves

I Rode That Girl

Through Her Highs

And Lows

All Hands Upon

Her Graceful Form

We All Took Turns

Weathering Her Storms

She Rode With All

My Rhonda Lee

In Search Of The Bounty

Her Beauty Sought

Beneath The Stars

And Moonlight Dim

But In The Morning

Sun And Tides

Her Engines Would Begin

And She Would Hum

All Hands Would Ride

My Rhonda Lee

The Rhonda Lee Was A Shark Boat

And I Had Many Adventures On Her

When Long Line Fishing

This Is Just A Memory

Of My Days On The Shark Boat

Fishing The Waters Between Tasmania And Victoria

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16 Comments

Posted by on September 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Vietnam Nostalgia

Greetings my friends.

Many years ago back in 1971 I was serving with the Australian Army Training Team in South Vietnam.

I found myself based on a small island off the coast of South Vietnam, called Lon Son Island.

My role there was as a Medical Advisor, and also a part of a team that became renowned for its role

in Australian Military history, for its role as the most highly decorated Australian Unit to have served in Vietnam.

Now the purpose of my post I would like to explain.

Sometime in the year of 1971, I found myself stranded in Nui Dat, Nui Dat was the base of all Australians in Vietnam, my little home town at that time of the war, was a little island called Lon Son, my home was actually an old French fort.

Somewhere in the mists of time, I got stranded at Nui Dat with no means to get back home to my little island off the coast.

With Australian ingenuity I decided to thumb a ride, much like a hitchhiker, I stood at the end of the tarmac, full pack, webbing and all accessories, shoulder holster, Armalite rifle and other paraphanalia of war.

Planes were taking off non stop , Choppers were taking off non stop, in actual fact history shows that out off Vietnam, a plane was landing and taking off every three minutes.

I watched as the planes departed, all on combat missions, all I wanted was a simple taxi lift back to my little island.

Out of the sky swooped the smallest helicopter I had ever seen, it was like a blown up ballon, it was a Bell Huey Chopper.

The pilot loaded me on board, a big American guy who had control of the Skies.

He asked me where I was goings and said no worries, it was on his way home.

A bubble helicopter with a great American Skypilot, was an experience.

He landed me back on Lon Son Island and assured me of any future help.

To this day that great man doesnt know how he helped me out, to this day this great man doesnt know the future my life would have on Lon Son Island.

He helped me when I needed it.

I would like to track down this great American chopper pilot and thank him for his assistance during this time.

Unfortunatley I have no way of tracking him down.

My good friend on WordPress, Gp suggested this blog.

The only way of finding my American friend is through the identification on his Chopper.

I attach some pictures of that time and the Chopper number plate, who knows, maybe somebody can fit the jig saw together.

Thank Gp

Aussie Emu

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14 Comments

Posted by on September 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Aussie Emu Updates

Greetings my friends, I have been quiet on WordPress lately, taking time out to travel and enjoy the world.

I love the fun in travelling, every moment is a new experience, the feel of the wind flowing through the car as we cross some of the great Australian roads.

Open spaces with native trees, red earth soil and the occasional kangaroo and Emu crossing the roads in front of us.

We do a number of trips every few months now, from the cold mountain high countries to the oceans of South Australia.

Our next trip in a few weeks is off to Coober Pedy in South Australia, this town is renowned for the best Opals in the world, being an opal mining town, the houses are primarily built underground due to the heat of the desert, when you drive into the town it seems like something out of an alien movie, nothing but a landscape of TV aerials covering the landscape.

After some opal mining we are heading up to Ayers Rock, the centre of Australia, Ayers rock is normally known as Uluru in Aboriginal language, it is the biggest rock in Australia and hold great spiritual meaning and power for the Aboriginals.

So much for the first part of my blog, now I will change the subject completely, now I want to talk about Garlic. Yes the humble Garlic boys and girls.

I enjoy cooking and garlic plays a major part in all my dishes, it has great medicinal qualities, havent seen a dentist or a vampire in years since using it.

The problem with garlic is getting the skin off it, painstakingly peeling each clove and dicing it up.

Well I dont normally post other peoples culinary hints but in this case I make it an exception.

This video showed me how to skin garlic in virtually 20 seconds, I call it defrocking the garlic.

This method does actually work and is quite amazing, give it a try and it will save you much time if your a garlic lover.

Aussie Emu signing off

Stay well and keep smiling

 
49 Comments

Posted by on August 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
 
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