Today is going to be a long one. I didn’t get much sleep again last night as me Lisa and Jennifer Parsonage spent the night around the camp fire in swags. It was really warm next to the fire, but I spent most of the night staring up at the stars. I should have been really tired as when we returned from Ayers Rock, I got off the bus at the Resort and sat outside for an hour updating all my internet stuff – Blog, email and facebook etc. Then it was just a short walk for me to get back to the camp-site – or so I thought. Somewhere along the was I became navigationally confused – yes, I know – it doesn’t happen very often – I got lost!!
It was pitch dark and I was walking up unlit sand dunes using the flash on my camera as a torch. I don’t know where I went wrong, but I after 45 minutes spent running and walking around, I ended up in the residents and staff quarters of the resort. I probably walked 3-4 miles and ended up 2-3 miles away from where I should have been. Luckily I spotted a security vehicle and after chatting to the guard he introduced me to a bloke who was waiting to take over as the bus driver on the shuttle bus around the resort. I waited with him and he gave me a lift to the other side of the resort where he dropped my by a sand dune~!! He told me to walk along the path up the dune into the dark and then at the other side I would find the road leading back to the camp. I followed his directions and 10 minutes later I ran into camp just as everyone was finishing their dinner. Luckily, there was plenty left for me and I finished the plate off as Debbie read out a brilliant poem that she has written about he trip and all the experiences that we have had. I hope she puts in onto the net somewhere so we can all read it again.
After a dinner a lot of people drifted to bed as we have an early start again tomorrow (Leaving at 6.30am, so we will be up at about 5am). Me Lisa, Jennifer Parsonage and Big Rick spent a while sitting around the camp fire finishing our drinks before we too all hit the sack.
Everyone managed to get their arses out of bed on time today and after packing up the bus and tidying up the camp we set off just after 6.30am. Big Rick has warned us that it will be a long day today and so we are to tell him when we need to stop, so that he can get the 900km or so done as quickly as possible. We have already had a short toilet stop followed by a longer breakfast stop and yet its still only 10.30am. Most people had a good couple of hour sleep in the first chunk of travel today and I’m sure we will get some more later.
We stopped the bus as we passed from the Northern Territories and into Southern Australia. Me and Bev took a few pictures top mark the occasion and then after a quick toilet stop, we headed off once again. We also had to reset our watches again as we have moved forward yet another hour. We are now 9 ½ hours ahead of UK time. It seems really weird though as because we have done the travelling on the bus over a long period of time, we don’t have jet-lag and are used to being away from home. I’m tempted to fly home and then fly back, just so that it feels like I am really here!!
A couple of hours later we pulled into a large roadhouse, with restaurant, bar and a large shop. For some reason my wifi sense was heightened and I grabbed my net-book I wasn’t surprised to find wifi pretty quickly and within a few minutes I was sat under a large tree, catching up on all my admin. It didn’t take me long so I passed the net-book over to Lisa, Liv and the girls so that they could all check theirs too.
A few hours later and Big Rick got onto his microphone and pointed out the strange piles of sand that ran alongside the road for miles. These were the piles of 'slag', that were the result of people mining for Opals. We had arrived in mining country and to be precise Coober Pedy (Translated from Aboriginal as 'White man goes down hole'.)
Coober Pedy is a strange place! It is here as a direct result of Opal mining. Everyone in the town either has a mine, lives in a mine or both. The heat here can reach 60 degrees Celsius and as a result the first miners discovered it is much better to live underground in the old mines rather than live above ground in the baking heat. So as the town grew and old mines were left behind, the mew settlers moved into them and continued to dig elsewhere around the town. Now there are mines that have been converted into plush underground hotels, motels and in our case the 'Umoona Hostel and Opal Museum'.
We arrived at the museum just after 5pm and noticed a strange object in the car park. It was a space ship!! The tour guide from the museum pointed out that it had been used in the film – Pitch Black', starring Vin Diesel, which must have been filmed here. Big Rick also told us that the last time he was here one of his group couldn’t find the Hostel entrance and had to spend the night in the only shelter he could find – The Spaceship!!! Haahaa!
Anyway, we had a tour around the Opal museum after seeing a quick video about Coober Pedy and its history. The museum is built in an old mine and we descended down to have a look around the tunnels and the house that had been built. It is just like a normal house, but instead of wallpaper there are the marks left by the mining/cutting machine. It looks really comfortable and the temperature was a lovely 22 degrees. The bedroom was great too as there are no windows, it is pitch black without lights on, just as I like it!
After the tour, we went out the back of the museum and moved into our home for the night. A long wide corridor 'Bunkhouse', with about 40 beds in, with just a curtain to pull across for privacy. Some people didn’t seem very impressed but I quite liked it.
We then headed off up the main road and the daily search for grog. Most of the shops were closed, but eventually, thanks to David, we found an open shop and managed to get wine and booze for the night.
A few of us then headed across the road and spent a couple of hours in a pizza restaurant. Also in the restaurant was another group who were staying in the next bunkhouse to us. - 'The Groovy Grape travel bus'. A strange name for a travel company, but I think it looks great as the bus was full of 20 something female travellers!!! Maybe I will book a tour with them one day – heehee!
After finishing the Pizza, we headed back to the hostel for a relaxing drink before bed – There is not much else to do here but drink and mine! In the bunkhouse a few people were already in bed, but having trouble sleeping as Awal was trying to play guitar in there! I think he stopped after a complaint from one of the girls. I sat outside the bunkhouse with Donna, Mills, Jennifer Parsonage and Lisa chatting and were soon joined by two of the girls from Groovy Grape! Yay! One of them a northern lass from York and the other was a Canadian girl who was a computer programmer and had been in Australia for 10 months It was really good to meet someone new and chat to someone different and find out how other travellers were doing, so I really enjoyed sitting there for a while. Soon though, it was time for bed – we were due up at 4.30am for a 530 departure for Adelaide. So after a quick shower I got into my bed. Even with a lot of snoring coming from the other bunks, I managed to get a good, if short, nights sleep.
At 4am, the alarms started to go off and for some reason, even though there was a light on in the corridor, people still felt the need to use torches to move around I really don’t get why people need so much light!! I got up, had a quick bit of toast, washed and did my teeth and was in the depths of the bus ready to start loading bags, all in about 15 minutes. The groovy grapes were also up and it was funny to see another group 'monging it'; at the same time as us. Big Rick turned up just on time and after checking the bunkhouse we were nearly ready to go. The Groovy Grapes gave us a wave as they left and soon after we hit the road as well. It was still dark and so everyone got their heads down, until Rick started the music! At first everyone seemed a little pissed that he had woke them up with music, but then we realise he was playing 'Morning has broken', and on the left hand side of the bus, we could see the sun-rays just breaking above the desolate landscape. It was a beautiful sunrise and a really nice touch by Rick to allow us to watch it, set to music.
After a couple of hours more sleep it was pit stop time and 30 sleepy heads climbed off the bus and formed n orderly queue for the 2 toilets whilst Rick refuelled and Chris and Lana cleaned dead things from the bus windscreen. We have already done 252km's today and have 600 to go, but I believe we are having a couple of stops along the way to break things up.
The first such stop was at Lake Hart. This is a medium sized dry salt lake. We had seen a salt lake before in Turkey and the guys in Iran saw another. This one is very similar and we took a walk out to it from the car park. On the track near to the lake is a burnt out camper van, so I took a minute to write Oz-bus 20 on the front and take a few pictures. I hope the next Oz-bus stops and sees it. I wandered out to the Lake with Bev and decided on a swim, so off came my T-shirt, which Donna kindly held onto for me and I pretended to do a bit of front crawl and back stroke. Childish I know. We wandered further out and the salt actually became slightly wet even though it was a baking hot day. We were joined by Jennifer Parsonage and Big Rick, the latter explaining that the salt rises through the ground in the water, which then gets evaporated by the sun leaving just the salt behind. It was really hot and the perfect place to get sunburn, so we decided to head back to the bus and towards Port Augusta for a lunch stop.
Ten minutes down the road, Rick stepped abruptly on the bus brakes again and shouted 'Emus!', over the microphone. Just ahead of the bus was a group of emu's crossing the road. We all took a few photos, while Rick explained that the male Emu will sit on the eggs till they hatch. However, the emu then looks like a female, ready to mate, so sometimes another male will get confused and try to shag it. The emu on the eggs has no choice but to go with the flow as he cannot leave his eggs! Haahaa!!!
Our next stop was in Port Augusta, where we parked up at a service station and walked to a park overlooking a lovely bit of water and sat having lunch, some people in the sunshine and others sat in the shade listening to the cricket on the radio.
A couple of hours later and as we drive into Adelaide, I hear that Australia have been bowled out. Then a few minutes later as England come out to bat, there on the left hand side of the bus is the Adelaide Oval. We are so close to the Ashes now, I can feel them!!
The hostel is a couple of miles away and we are only here till 7am, so Im not going to be able to see much more of the cricket today, but for a few seconds we could see the green grass through the stands!!
Tonight we are having a meal and drinks for Helen and David’s last night, before they leave tomorrow. The bugars DO have tickets for the ashes tomorrow too!
Hey Mr and Mrs Frost – Its been a pleasure travelling with you both! I hope the rest of your travels go well – Keep in touch!! XX