Coober Pedy

I awoke with a crick in my neck, and we piled into the minibus for the long drive to our next destination: Coober Pedy.

We left the campsite early.

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We spent the whole day passing through Australian desert, with a rest break at the state border between the Northern Territory and South Australia.

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We finally reached Coober Pedy as dusk fell, a town known both for its opal mines and its underground dwellings. I wasn’t really quite sure what to expect from the latter, but (perhaps childishly) imagined there to be entire streets and roads underground. It turned out that my imagination had been running a little too wild, but lots of the houses were built into the side of the hill. Our accommodation seemed like a cross between a hobbit hole and a Hunger Games-style dystopian bunker.

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The landscape was a bit lunar and reminded me of a certain Wallace and Gromit movie.

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We ate out for dinner at a pizzeria, before going to Josephine’s Gallery and Kangaroo Orphanage. Here we had a go at playing the didgeridoo and met some kangaroos, including a little  joey called Marcus. Thanks to Jessica for the following photos!

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After a trip to the pub, we headed back to the bunker for some refreshing sleep on an actual bed. (Bear in mind we’d been doing a lot of camping lately!) The advantages of sleeping underground became somewhat obvious. The desert night gets extremely cold, and the daytime extremely hot, but the underground rooms stayed fairly stable in temperature.

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The following morning, we made one more visit before hitting the road again – this time to the Umoona Opal Mine and Museum. We were shown an example of an underground family home and had a go at mining for opal. I also caved and bought some jewellery…

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We then continued with our drive south.

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