We first saw Coober Pedy in the early 1970s when we visited in an old car with two American friends. We stayed in a shared room at the only hotel and while eating in the bar that night were told by the barmaid that heavy rain was expected and we were likely to be rained in for three weeks until the gravel roads dried out. We had less than two weeks left of our term holidays at the Bendigo Teachers College so we had to go. A flat bed truck driver who was leaving the next morning agreed to take our old holden on the back of his truck for a fee. Three would have to ride in the car on the back of the truck and one could ride with the driver. Coober Pedy was rough and never planned as most towns are. Underground houses burrowed into the limestone hills run every which way. Tons of old mining gear is left round the town to rust out. Greeks and Italians, crims and anyone trying to escape from marriage or worse all holed up at Coober Pedy to try their luck with the opals. It’s still almost the same but bigger and some more solid businesses are open to cater for the tourists. Terry picked an ‘underground park about 5 km out of town, ‘Rebas’: an elderly couple run it with an underground motel attached. It is neat and nestled into some space between hills and mullock heaps thrown up by opal mines. It’s very Coober Pedy. I would recommend it as an antidote to slick modern caravan parks or ‘resorts’ as they like to style themselves. We arrived at lunchtime and ate in the van once we had put up the A’Van. Couldn’t get a powered site so we had to accept a spot in the yard. We spent the afternoon at the Breakaways about 20km out of town and waited till sunset. Great scenery; better than the ‘painted desert’. I felt lazy that night so we tried to get a meal in town. The Italian Club was closed, the Opal Bistro was packed and we waited one and half hours for our order only to betold it would take another half hour.
Another day at Coober Pedy. Again spent at the Breakaways. I did some painting, Terry read and we spent an hour in the afternoon at the lookout sitting in the great stillness of the desert looking down over the valley with ‘jump-ups’ to the left and right. All ochres, browns, greys and creams lit by warm sunlight. Lots of photos. Some will be worth enlarging. Got back to the van now on a powered site . I cooked dinner and we read and chatted.