Tuesday 23rd June 2015, 7-17 degrees
Erldunda to Coober Pedy
Yesterday I counted 40 crutch hops each way to the loos. I figured that I must build up my strength so did it twice (180 hops) ended up buggered and strained a stomach muscle. Optimism can be a problem.
After enjoying another desert sunrise at breakfast I surprised myself by hopping the wrong way and ending up flat on my back on the van floor.
We roll on down the long straight highway and notice that the cattle warning signs are now in Japanese and German, I would have thought that a picture of a cow would have been enough but now it’s Tiere Em Weg. We pass Iwantja Arts Community and the guys are out painting their bus stop. Artists at work, albeit in surplus brown paint. We catch up with a band of cloud that stretches right across the southern sky, we’re back to winter now.
Marla is a modern roadhouse at the Oodnadatta Track junction that was built when the bitumen road went through. I hop to the loos only to find a busload of school girls ahead of me. They kindly let me go in first but then I get stuck in the narrow door. Thankful that I haven’t fallen on the floor I tell them it’s just that my boobs are too big for the doorway. That causes a bit of a titter.
The landscape is red and grey. Red dirt and short bushy grey trees. The Painted Desert is on our left, the Great Victoria Desert on our right. Even the road is red which is rather colour coordinated and goes well with the bleached bones of cattle that litter the roadsides. We start counting caravans to break the monotony and, in particular the bright shiny new Jayco Silverlines obviously on their first treks.
Fifty five kilometres north of Coober Pedy signs appear “Danger unmarked holes”. We cross the Dog Fence again, we last saw it down near Balladonia. Thousands of white mounds on the horizon signal Coober Pedy. She’s a dry town as in arid. The caravan park, the Opal Inn has gravel sites and no water connections. Water can be bought for our tanks at the gate for $1 per 40 litres. There are also pay water stations on the main street. Showers cost 20 cents for 4 minutes. I’m caught in a time warp as Coober Pedy is unrecognisable from 40 years ago when it resembled quirky White Cliffs in NSW. Now it is a much larger town with kerbing and footpaths and free-standing houses (they must be hot) but dust and dirt everywhere. In fact the whole town appears to be covered in cream dust. Some premises are mere doorways into hillsides and underground opal shops. Plastic air pipes sprout from the hills as there are mines and residences in there, somewhere. This is a troglodyte town.
Travelling Kms: 489 Kms