Ken and Sheena - Living the Dream! travel blog

Sheena gets a helping hand up

Underground opal shop - these were so much nicer than the above...

 

Kena has a go at being a miner

 

 

House that family used to live in up to late 1940's

 

 

Outside of Catholic Church

Inside of Catholic Church

Inside the backpackers

Outside the Serbian church

Inside the Serbian Church

Happy times at the Breakaways

 

The Dog Fence - this is the photo we stopped for -...

Help arrives - this is the latest in the SA RAC fleet!!

Oh oh - we have caused a traffic jam

Just because we are stuck in the middle of nowhere does not...

OK I was just kidding before - this is the real RAC

Poor little Bessie!!

All around Coober Pedy the area is covered with these mounds -...

 


We were up early this morning – really excited at having a good look around town.

First stop was one of the opal shops dug into the hill. From the outside there is just a doorway with a sculpture of an ‘old timer’ standing guard at the door. But on entry you were transported into a classy up-market jewelry store! It is just so interesting looking at how they have carved into the stone to create their showroom with extra indentations for the display cabinets set into the wall. We spend just as much time marveling at the walls as we did at the opals!

Next stop was the Old Timers Mine. First of all we were given a demonstration of some of the equipment the miners use – this was really interesting as we had seen a lot of it around the town but could not work out what they were for – now we knew. We then went down into a mine that had first been tunneled out in the early 1900’s, bending low to work our way through the various rabbit-warren tunnels. This then led into a museum and then into an underground house the owner of the mine had lived in. The temperature in this, and all the underground buildings was so lovely - a very comfortable 24 degrees.

Coming out of here we then climbed up the hill opposite to ‘The Big Winch’ to gain a panoramic view of the area. It is just incredible – dusty, red dirt everywhere with doorways and air pipes coming up through the surrounding hills giving you an indication of just how many dwellings there are here hidden from sight. And once inside you realize that they are just so classy and comfortable inside – with all the comforts of home except for air-conditioners and heaters as they are not needed.

Time for a coffee so we head back to the Hotel, then off to look at the underground churches – the best ones being the Catholic and the Serbian. By this stage we had totally fallen in love with Coober Pedy – is it so fascinating and the ingenuity of the people who had built this town really amazes us.

We then decided it was time to head out of town so popped into the Tourist Information Bureau to get maps and info on the Breakaways – a set of mountains that many people had recommended we go to. The man in the Bureau supplied us with the relevant maps but then warned us that the road out there was not so good at the moment – very corrugated and in need of grading. We asked him if we should give it a miss as we only had a 2 wheel drive vehicle, but he assured us it was totally fine as long as we took it slowly – and was definitely something we did not want to miss.

Well – the view was definitely spectacular and we had fun walking along the ridges but the road was atrocious! We had crawled the 10 kms in averaging about 15-20 kms per hour. Continuing on the loop out, the road ran alongside the Dog Fence (the longest fence in the world – built to keep the dingoes out) and I thought it was definitely a photo moment. Ken stopped the car, I took my photo, jumped back in the car and – car would not start!! Tried again and again but it was totally dead. As we looked around the vast expanse of nothing around us and wondered what to do along drove a 1913 Rolls Royce and two Americans got out and tried to assist us – to no avail.

Next to stop were a couple (John and Kathy) in a motor home and soon after another couple in their vehicle – we had caused a traffic jam in the middle of the outback!! After all the men had had a turn at tweaking this and tweaking that the general consensus was that we should call the RAC (luckily we had phone coverage). The Rolls Royce then left us and the other couple but John and Kathy said they would wait with us until the RAC arrived. We waited for about and hour getting to know John and Kathy (what a lovely couple) until our guardian angel arrived – but boy oh boy was he a grumpy angel! He was so cross at being called out and cursed the road (‘if I had known the road was like this I would not have come out’) and I am sure he was also cursing under his breath ‘these stupid city folk who come out onto these roads’. He loaded poor old Bessie up on his flat truck and took a very relieved Sheena and Ken back to the town. We managed to soft talk him on the way home – and once he knew that we had checked in with the tourist bureau before heading out there he mellowed out even more. By the time he dropped us off at the caravan park he was actually cracking jokes and promised he would take Bessie back to his workshop to have a look at what was wrong with her. Now we just have to cross our fingers that there is not too much wrong with her.



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