There are certain things in life which don't fit. They kind of mess with your natural sense of logic. Like seeing a penguin in the Mastermind chair or me winning a Worlds Handsomest Man competition.
Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you... Coober Pedy. This slice of other-worldly oddness all started back in 1915, when a wee scrap of a kid found a whopping chunk of precious opal while trying to find water in the parched desert. The word got out, Coober Pedy (meaning "white man in a hole" in Aborigine) was set up as a township and ever since then people have been mining the hell out of the area. As we drove through the desert expanse, we started to see these mounds of red, white, and burgundy earth everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Hundreds of them, thousands. We found out on our tour the next day that each of these mounds has come out of a mining hole, up to 80 ft deep in some cases. Everyone's at it, sifting through the ancient sands trying to uncover their own personal opal fortune.
Half the population lives underground in dugouts, as during the summer months (get this, it blew me away) the temperature can reach 65 degrees. C, not F! 65 for crying out loud. Brian our guide said that the hairs on your arm start to singe after about 55, but you kind of get used to it apparently. Brian does however live in a pot of constantly boiling olive oil, and brushes his teeth with a welding gun. (I made that bit up but you can understand my incredulity.) We stayed in one of the underground hostels, 6.5 metres down, which is cool and all but takes away your ability to have any idea whatsoever what time it is.
The tour was ace and dead interesting. (Abs and me thought we better immerse ourselves in some culture as the grey matter hasn't really had a decent workout recently) We were driven out to see the Breakways reserve, landscape featured in Mad Max and Priscilla.. and also to see the Dog Fence, which is the world's longest, well, fence. 5000 kms of dingo-proof wire. Not forgetting the only golf course in the world which has reciprocal playing rights with St Andrews... and not a blade of grass in sight. Moon Plain - LITERALLY nothing as far as the eye can see. Impossible for anything other than rocks to inhabit. The underground catacomb church which had next door the vicar's rectory, adorned with all the hubcaps he picks up on his travels through the outback to remote communities. The Big Winch, which got busted up in a cyclone in 1986. The cemetry, complete with some dude's headstone made from a beer barrel with the epitaph "Have a drink on me." A weird "petrified forest", pseudo-tech scrap artwork created by this dusty old Hungarian guy who also showed us his workshop, mine, opals and meteorites. My guess is he made the alien rock thing up to extract money from us, but I could be wrong.
ps - saw Miami Vice at the drive-in. It is EASILY THE WORST FILM YOU ARE EVER LIKELY TO SEE. Boycott this film NOW. For the love of God and all those around you, DO NOT PAY YOUR HARD-EARNED LOLLY TO SEE IT.
PPS - Adelaide's next, a couple of brewskis and swimming with dolphins. We're picking mumsy up from the airport there on November 3rd. Take care y'all, hugs if you like it and hugs if you don't. C.