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.
After 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.
It 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.
The Desert View is managed by a lovely couple called Tony and Linda, and their little daughter.
Their 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.
The 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.
Catch you around the traps