Coober Pedy, SA

Our little fire at our desert camp site still had coals the next morning so we got it going again so the kids could cook the toast using a toasting fork. I made a huge batch of scrambled eggs and bacon and we all ate outside around our little camp fire. Ben declared it the best breakfast ever!!

We’d had a lovely sleep in and finally packed up camp and set off around 10am. I used our grey water to extinguish the fire and made sure it was out before we set off.

Just as we were leaving our camp a group of old cars went by each one covered in stickers. We commented that it must be a rally. As we went along the remaining 150km to Coober Pedy we were passed by many more of these cars.

We arrived at Coober Pedy and stopped under the famous town sign however the rally cars had arrived before us and more came afterwards. Of course they all wanted to take photos under the sign so we though we’d come back when we were leaving town.

We got chatting to a lady dressed in an ABBA costume and she explained that the rally was called the Mystery Box Rally and they raise money for the Cancer Council. She and her husband had come down from the Queensland to participate. The rally had raised $1.1million already. What a fantastic effort! All the cars have to be over 20 years old and no 4WD are allowed. We even saw a couple of little Mazda 121’s. Over the duration of the rally they have a couple of dress up nights and this day’s was Music Legends so we saw a few dressed as Wiggles, Baby Sharks, ABBA, Elvis, and many others. They all looked like they were having a fabulous time. The rally was next heading to Oodnadatta so those old cars take a beating on the gravel roads.

Our first stop in Coober Pedy was for fuel and we came across rally cars there too so there was a bit of a queue. Fuel was only $2.48L. Across the road from the service station are the town’s water bowsers. This is where you can top up your water tanks by paying for the water.

We checked in to the Big4 Stuart Range Caravan Park where we had two powered sites booked. The park also has two water taps that you have to put money in. It’s $1 for 40L of water. We both stopped and filled up before going to our site. The whole park is gravel with a few scrubby trees however the pool looked inviting surrounded by its green fake grass. There is a large amenities block in the middle with a camp kitchen, gas BBQ’s and even a fire pit. A large playground is also in the middle of the park.

Katie was surprised to find another New Age Bilby in the park. They keep popping up!

After setting up camp we all piled into ENNY (Katie’s car) and headed into town to check it out. What a bizarre place is Coober Pedy. It’s pretty obvious that nothing gets thrown away here and there is lots of stuff lying around. Old cars, machinery, metal drums and general mining paraphernalia. You never know when it may come in handy!

The Main Street is Hutchison St named after the young lad that first found opal while he was prospecting for gold.

We stopped at the top of a hill in town to check out the view and The Big Winch. Next door is the Big Winch 360 Cafe & Bar. It also houses the Big Winch 360 cinema experience and we thought that sounded good. The next show was at 3.30pm so we had time to check out The Blower and the Steel Tree and make good use of the binoculars set up at the end of the lookout.

The Big Winch was built in the early 1970’s by local Claus Wirries as a tourist attraction. It is a replica of a hand windlass that were used to lift buckets of overburden out of the mine shafts in the early days. Claus sounds like a real character.

Next to the Big Winch is a Blower. This amazing machinery is a Coober Pedy invention and is basically a huge vacuum cleaner. A pipe was fed down into the shaft and connected to the tunnelling equipment. The blower was turned on and the dirt would be sucked up the pipe into the drum. When the drum was full it would be tipped out into a pile hence the thousands of piles of dirt everywhere on the opal fields.

The last of the objects on the lookout is The Steel Tree. This tree made out of bent and twisted steel was made by another local BobAmorosi in 1970. Bob had ordered some steel brought up by truck from Adelaide however the truck caught fire and the metal became bent and twisted. It was no good for its original use so inventive Bob made a ‘tree’ for his children to climb as there is a scarcity of trees to climb out here.

We headed next door for our 360 degree cinema experience. This was fabulous and we do recommend it. It only cost $15 for Seniors, $20 for Adults and children aged 12-16 were $10. Ben and Maddie were free.

The show is in three parts and beings in a small theatre. The first part is a Welcome to Country film that runs for about five minutes. You learn about the local Aboriginal people and their connection to country.

For the second part you walk down a set of stairs and into a circular theatre. This second video, filmed over 12 months, describes the local area, some history and showcases the beauty of the vast outback of South Australia.

For the third part you go back to the small theatre you started in and another five minute video is all about locals and Coober Pedy. Coober Pedy is based on Aboriginal words and means ‘white man in a hole’. What an apt name for this town.

The whole show runs for about 40 minutes and we all enjoyed the 360 degree cinema and thought it well worth a visit.

Back at camp the kids enjoyed a swim in the heated pool while I set up our communal area for dinner and got our outside TV tuned in so we could watch the second game of the State of Origin.

Katie cooked hamburgers for dinner on her Weber and we all enjoyed our dinner outdoors watching the game. Happy to report that NSW won the game so that’s one game each. The third will be the decider.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s