Continuing our outback adventure to Coober Pedy South Australia. First of all I was remiss in not explaining the name of Coober Pedy and how it was so named.
Coober Pedy is the white mans version of the Aboriginal name.
The name in Aboriginal language is Kupa Piti, which means White mans hole in the ground, which sounds better to me than the white mans version.
The morning of the 12th saw us awakening to a hot warm day with the potential to get really hot.
We spent the morning browsing the local opal shops and Aboriginal artefacts shops, the wallet was starting to get a little thin, we purchased some opal jewellery and then proceeded to spend a little on my interests, which is original Aboriginal crafts, I was able to purchase Aboriginal singing sticks and a bull roarer which I will elaborate on later.
Back on the main street we realised the heat had really climbed, it was now over 40 degrees, we had the choice to either go back to our underground apartment or keep playing tourist.
We opted to continue exploring, but decided to take a leaf out of the locals book, and head underground, yet still see the sites.
We chose to visit the underground Anglican church. We were met at the door by a very amicable Minister who took the time to show us around his church.
The church is in the design of the cross and extremely unique and spiritual.
The Catacomb Underground Church was dug out in the mid 1970’s and dedicated by the Anglican Church thereafter. It is very quiet and a great place to meditate, pray, or just sit and be still.
There is a regular Sunday service with an average attendance of 40 people from nine denominations, and visitors are most welcome.
The interior of the church is natural rock, coated with sealer to stop it getting dusty. It features an actual windlass from an old mine site, and two Caldwell drill holes that open to the sky. These help give visitors an idea of what it is like from the base of the two million-odd holes around Coober Pedy.
The temperature in the church is 24 to 27 degrees Celsius all year round – which is one of the reasons why so many people live underground.
The Catacomb Church is regarded as an important part of the town’s social structure, being called upon for support in times of trouble by the town as a whole. Its weekly service regularly has around 30 adults and 20 children, with numbers increasing significantly from May-September when the tourists move northwards for the southern winter. The ministry is to the town (including the mining camps), involves patrols to the pastoral properties around Coober Pedy and extends to the remote centres of Mintabie, Marla, Oodnadatta and William Creek.
The church is so named in honour of the Catacombs of Rome. It was easy to envisage the catacombs of Rome with the earthen walls and cool air, enveloped in silence from centuries ago.
The first thing that caught my attention was four great paintings on the wall, our guide, the amicable Minister explained that they were original copies from the engravings on the walls of the catacombs in Rome.
These copies were exact right down to the colouring, as they blended into the rock walls in this church.
I leave you to enjoy two pictures of the inside of the church, one with the friendly helpful minister, who I am ashamed to admit, forgot his name.
We now move onto our second underground experience of the day.
The Coober Pedy underground book store.
Now I love books, I love book stores and old musty smelling antique book stores, but never having been in an underground book store this was a must, plus the fact that the temperature above ground had now reached 44 degrees.
We stepped down into a beautiful laid out, cool book store, there were shelves of books off all descriptions, but I noticed many were predominantly pertaining to the outback and Coober Pedy with many touching on the subject of Aboriginal history and culture.
The lovely lady was very friendly and informative.
I noticed that bookings could be made here for those people who wanted a ride to Oodnadatta on the mail/milk run, this trip is done a couple of times a week and is over 400 kilometres on a dirt/gravel road. Oodnadatta is an Aboriginal settlement boasting a small township, one pub, a hospital with no doctor and a roadhouse. Medical emergencies from Oodnadatta are by flying Doctor service.
Back to the book store.
We spent an enjoyable time with the lovely owner and made a few purchases and headed back to the coolness of our underground cave.
Hope you enjoy my story and pictures, to be continued.
Catch you around the traps