Jim’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 23 Jun 2007

Location: Coober Pedy, Australia


After what seemed like an eternity driven desolate featureless roads we spied on the horizon a wind turbine, stationary as there wasn’t a breath of wind, and some strange large molehills in the distance. We had entered the Opal fields of central Australia!
Coober Pedy in the local aboriginal dialect means ‘white mans hole in the ground’ so called because of all the mines as well as the locals penchant for digging their homes underground to escape the searing hot days and freezing desert nights! Digging your home underground has the added advantage that if you happen upon an opal vein, it may well pay for your home at the same time!!! After all 90% of the world Opals come from this very spot! You aren’t allowed to ‘mine’ in your home for Opals, but ‘renovations’ are allowed, so if you feel like another bedroom?!?!?! So many Opals are here because the area was under the sea a few million years ago back when we had no polar ice caps! Global warming might be good for the jewellery trade if nothing else!

After buying Jim some swimming shorts in the driest place in the country we headed down a mine/house to see what it was like, a constant 24C was the answer! The local have it a bit easy here I reckon. I was walking about in shorts and t-shirt and we went to the supermarket and the cashier was wearing coat and scarf inside! I think they were feeling it a bit worse than me, I was getting a tan while they huddling together for warmth. Must be those good Kiwi traits I picked up that insulated me to the cold!
We didn’t want to leave but we had to as the next stop was the main reason for heading this way, Uluru (Ayers rock for all you non-aboriginal speakers!)