Coober Pedy does have more to offer than just opal mining. One possibility is to hitch a ride, for a fee of course, with the twice weekly mail run to outlying towns. The mailman has a medium size van which doubles as a taxi and tourist trip lasting about 12 hours through the real outback of the region. We will have to do that on another trip, but we talked to two ladies who had based their entire vacation on doing that ride and were not disappointed. The mailman does a good job of talking about the region as he drives the hundreds of miles from place to place.
We did do an afternoon tour into the outback with the same man who drove us to town from the airport. He is a busy guy as he also has a mine and is one of the people who guides the incoming planes to the proper resting spot. We were a bit concerned upon seeing that he would be our guide because he had been hard to understand and seemed very quiet. Fortunately, he turned out to be an excellent guide full of information and easy to talk to and understand.
We started with a tour of the town including a stop at the Serbian Church and a visit to one of the museums. Linda and I had toured it the previous afternoon so she spent the tour time shopping for opals while I followed along on his tour. He shared a few things we had not heard the day before and told us that he had come to town to visit his uncle 20 years previous and had just stayed to become a miner. I’d say he is still looking for that big strike since he is doing all these other jobs in addition to the mine.
On our way out to our destination, Breakaways Conservation Park, he took us through one of the mining areas showing us clearly how dangerous it would be to tramp around the area on your own. Holes that are crumbling in from the edges mean the ground is very unstable and it would be easy to get too close. Apparently one very real danger is people with cameras backing into holes as they are framing that perfect shot. He also explained the noodling machine now being used by some miners to get at that 20% of opals that come up in the vacuuming process.
|Wine and a platter of cheese and crackers|
|Land beyond the dingo fence|
And a few more pictures for your pleasure.
|Don't bring your dirt to town|