Coober Pedy is one strange town. As you approach you are travelling through arid, treeless country. (Oddly, it had rained recently, so it was quite green.) Then suddenly when you are about 10 KM out of town you run into all these piles of white mine tailings. Within the town itself, the piles join up into almost continuous tailings. Miners often start on a hill side and then turn their initial excavations into a home and keep adding tunnels.
The Serbs went as far as to excavate a church from an old mine.
We tried our hand a fossicking – called noodling when you re-examine tailings.
I mostly found ochre, but we all bagged some interesting silca crystals.
To the north of the town are the stunning “breakaways”. I think I could dedicate a blog to that one. Here is a panorama I took – click for more detail.
A short distance from Uluru (50km or a 45 minute drive – distances are so relative out here) you find the Kata Tjuta. From the distance, the two rocks look much the same, but Kata Tjuta is conglomerate whereas Uluru is sandstone.
Carmel and I had the brilliant idea of of organising a wine and cheese sunset viewing. Ash stayed at home to mind the dog.
From about 6:00 until 6:30, I stood up every few minutes to take another photo. The last couple clearly suffer from “clever smart phone photo colour correction”, but you get the idea
Also, Kata Tjuta was the western extent of our travels.
We made it! Well, most of us did; the dog could not quite get there!
It did seem quite impossible when I planned the trip that we could arrive at the centre with a functional caravan, car and family! But I think you can see from our faces that we are delighted.
We opted for a walk around Uluru, which was surprisingly different from the warnings – we had no risk to heat stroke or dehydration in a light rain, strong wind and cold (perhaps 10 degrees) air, but we kept our pace up to stay warm and made the distance.
It is very hard to give a feel of this strange icon in photos. One of the guide books suggest that the best way was to throw away the camera and use the lens in our heart.
I tried a few shots with the smart phone and a panorama software package (Hugin – open source of course). However, the feeling of this rock towering over you and the different way it was eroding from every size is almost impossible to capture.
Large areas of the rock are not photograph-able, but you can see from the bits in this article, it is a different rock in different places.
Interestingly, the actual rock of Uluru is grey. The outside of the rock has had many of the minerals leached out leaving mostly iron that has rusted. You can see the actual colour of the rock below.
BTW, Ash was with us but did not want to be in any photos.
Our first long stop in Northern Territory was at Glen Helen Gorge. This place is 130 km west of Alice Springs. It sounds a long way, but we drove to Alice and back twice while we stayed there!
The camp site is at the base of a beautiful cliff – all vertical strata. You can walk down to the gorge but there is a deep pool keeping us from travelling through. I had intended to use our canoes to travel through, but there was no point – it was a small pool.
As you can tell, Carmel and Ash did a tour of the gorge from the air.
Dog and I felt like the doctors from M*A*S*H having to run to a dusty hill top when we came back to greet the travellers.