Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Day 10 Australia - Ayers Rock to Coober Pedy

Tuesday 3rd March, 2015 - Ayers Rock to Coober Pedy
Approx 734 km / 8 hours.

We decide to have the buffet breakfast at the hotel for a whooping $72 for two of us. This is really a buffet, unlike any we've encountered so far,you even pour your own coffee and no chef to cook your eggs!! Oh wait, you could have ordered your eggs if the server had told us as she seated us!!!

It is an average buffet, bacon is cold, mushrooms are in a soy sauce, and scrambled eggs are salty. This is so ridiculous at this price.

We call to have our bags picked up but after waiting we walked them to the car ourselves. We are way at the back of this resort, at least it isn't that hot this early but the flies are out.
In the car and ready for a very long trek today as we have to go back over our tracks for about 200 km.

No radio reception.

Drive south across the border into the state of Victoria, towards Coober Pedy, the heart of South Australia's opal-mining industry. Discovered in 1911, today there are hundreds of opal mines operating. Most people live underground.

A stop for gas at Mt. Ebenezer.

Our car sitting in the heat and the flies.

Yikes, the price!

Floral Emblem of South Australia

Sturt's Desert Pea, Swainsona formosa, was adopted as the floral emblem of South Australia on 23 November 1961, using the nameClianthus formosus.

This species, a member of the pea family, Fabaceae, is confined to Australia, where it occurs in all mainland States except Victoria. The original collection was made in 1699 by William Dampier on Rosemary Island in the Dampier Archipelago where he collected a specimen from:

"a creeping vine that runs along the ground ... and the blossom like a bean blossom, but much larger and of a deep red colour looking very beautiful".

Lots and lots of warnings about cows!!

This is truly a boring drive, my eyes close several times so kudos to John.

More gas.

Check out the yellow signs at bottom - road train.

Triple (three trailer) road trains operate in western New South Wales, western Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, with the last three states also allowing AB-Quads (B double with two additional trailers coupled behind).

More warnings, did see some road kill, a kangaroo and a cow.

Not sure if this is for us or the cows??

We started down the road to the Painted Desert but decided to get back on the highway as it is such a long drive.

As we approach Coober Pedy we decide to take the road to the Breakaways.

This is mining country now.

The Breakaways are a striking & unique example of arid scenery. From the flat - topped mesas to the stony gibber desert, remnants of millions of years provide a wealth of geological interests and breathtaking views. Looking out over the breakaways it is hard to believe that over 70 million years ago, a vast inland sea covered the area. The region is rich in Aboriginal and European history and is home to an array of native fauna and flora, which have successfully adapted to one of the world's harshest environments. Definitely one of Outback South Australia's best-kept secrets!
Location: approximately 33km north of Coober Pedy.

Trying to get a photo of the fence, known as the Dog Fence. More tomorrow.

The Dingo Fence or Dog Fence is a pest-exclusion fence that was built in Australia during the 1880s and finished in 1885, to keep dingoes out of the relatively fertile south-east part of the continent (where they had largely been exterminated) and protect the sheep flocks of southern Queensland. It is one of the longest structures in the world and is the world's longest fence. It stretches 5,614 kilometres (3,488 mi) from Jimbour on the Darling Downs near Dalby through thousands of kilometres of arid land ending west of Eyre peninsula on cliffs of the Nullarbor Plain above the Great Australian Bight near Nundroo.

As we approach Coober Pedy the landscape looks like another planet.

Arrive Coober Pedy
From the Aboriginal kupa piti, (white mans burrow), Coober Pedy dates back to the discovery of opals in 1915. The producer of about 70 per cent of the worlds opals, it is a community of some forty
nationalities and many characters. Underground mines, a bookshop, pottery shops, restaurants and
hotels can be visited independently or on tours including a dugout home and the spectacular ridge,
Breakaways Reserve, setting for movies such as Mad Max III Beyond Thunderdome. The Dog
Fence, running from Queensland to South Australia to restrain dingoes, and the Moon Plain of fossilized shells millions of years old, can be explored by four wheel drive.

Desert Cave Hotel Coober Pedy
Hutchison Street,
Coober Pedy SA 5723

The Desert Cave Hotel - Visitors can stay underground, or if they prefer, above ground rooms are also available. This hotel is perfect for leisure stays.

A long day of driving so we put our feet up and spent time around the hotel.

Desert Cave, the only international underground hotel, allows you to experience dug out style living. Underground accommodation, shops, cafe, bar and display areas all within beautiful soft, natural sandstone surrounds. 

Coober Pedy translated to the Australian Aboriginal language (kupa piti), as a “hole white man” or “boys waterhole” or “white people under the ground”.

Since 1915 Coober Pedy has exerted a fascination for those who seek the elusive opal, the world’s most colourful gemstone. Coober Pedy is known as the underground town, where many locals live in dugouts or underground homes. The earth gives natural temperature control for cool, quiet living in this semi desert area of Outback South Australia.

We are here for two nights in a cave room. our room below.

We head to the underground bar not realizing that we had lost another hour crossing into South Australia. It was only when we went back to the room and I looked at the clock that we wondered so I called the desk and confirmed it was an hour later than we thought. It also means that sunset was at 8:04.

We have dinner at Umberto's in the hotel. WOW the food was amazing, the best we've had since arriving in Australia 10 days ago. It was hot, delicious and looked stunning. I had the lamb shank with mashed and loads of vegetables. John had the sizzling plate of sirloin, again delicious and lots of vegetables.

Photos to come.


  1. Beautifully stark landscape, Jackie!

    The gas price: yikes!

  2. That was some drive! Glad you took lots of photos of the underground hotel as I was dying to see inside.

  3. Ohhh... sweet memories.
    Minus the blowies, that is. Where do those flies come from in the desert, I wonder!


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