Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Uluru to the SA Border

October 29

While taking my morning shower, I wondered at all the white marks on the shower curtain until I realized that I was directly underneath a wagtail's nest.

Once we left Yulara, as the resort complex beside Uluru is called, it was a day of steady driving. We crossed the border into north South Australia mid-afternoon with little fanfare, and stopped for the night at Marla roadhouse. In the roadhouse you could buy a bumper sticker saying "Where the hell is Marla?"

October 30

More of the same. If there is anywhere that you should be be to see the curvature of the earth, this is it. Flat land in all directions, pockmarked with small bushes and mulga trees.

In the afternoon we began to see assorted machinery and small sandhills in varying colours spread across the landscape.

We were approaching Coober Pedy, opal capital of the world. CP is a small, dusty township, so hot that most of the inhabitants live underground in the excavations made by earlier opal miners.

Signs everywhere warned you about the risk of falling down a mine shaft.

During our stay the daytime temp was 38ÂșC, and it didn't cool down much at night. A benefit was the best water we've had in a week, although you had to pay for it: showers 20 cents for 2 minutes.

We visited the Old Timers Mine which involved donning a hardhat and descending into underground caverns, some left as they were originally, some turned into a neat two-bedroom home with functioning bathroom, kitchen and office, and electric light supplemented by shafts going up to the surface.

Of course there were many shops selling opals, cut and uncut, in silver or gold settings. They were all expensive. Lucky I don't care for opals!

Our caravan park provided shade-cloth awnings over the sites. The only drawback was that you were very close to your neighbours. It was so hot that sleep was not easy, especially as open, unscreened windows let in a vast variety of flying bugs, some of which were also biting bugs.

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