This is being written about a dozen days after the events so, with my poor short term memory, I'm relying heavily on Karen's notes.
We left at 8am and headed for Port Augusta for a brief stop. It was our last chance to get some cheap nibblies and other supplies. We weren't entirely surprised when it rained on us but Karen asked a local how often it rains there. 'Never', was her reply. It seemed like our luck was continuing...
While there we mailed home a painting that we'd bought from an aboriginal artist named Sebastian when we were in the old mill in Quorn. It's only a small painting but it's really nice and, now that we've travelled all the way up to Darwin and seen all the other paintings and prices on the way, we can see that Shelley was right when she said that he was particularly talented and his work was well priced.
A couple of hours up the road we took a detour for morning tea and stopped at Woomera. I didn't know Woomera was on our itinerary so this was a great surprise. Why so great?
- Science was my favourite subject at school.
- I wasn't a Cub / Scout as a kid because, in Toowoomba, there was an alternative called Space Pilots. Yes it was a tad geeky, what with all the telescopes, science experiments etc but we did get to make AND launch rockets. Yep solid fuel rockets, some of them having multiple stages, small animals and cameras as payloads and so forth.
The last rocket I made went up 2100 feet before levelling off and disappearing... which may have had something to do with the fact that my dog had chewed its tail fins shortly before launch.
- My dad was a fitter and turner and used to have all sorts of interesting chemicals and metal shavings (technically swarf) around the 14 foot flat bed metal lathe in our shed. I learnt lots of ways to make things go bang using nothing but metal shavings and other common household items.
- In my teens I developed an interest in electronics, CBs and amateur radio. My formal qualifications are in electronics and electrical engineering and I spent my early working life in telecommunications and a brief stint at ANU doing custom electronics on a scientific instrument.
- I had a brother who was a radio tech in the RAAF and still have a brother, formerly in the army, who's an expert in interpreting satellite imagery. Their work always interested me.
- I love reading including spy novels, cold war thrillers etc.
Woomera encompasses all of that:- scientific endeavour, missiles / rockets including some designed to go bang, lots of electronics and telemetry all in a post world war / cold war setting. Naturally the museum had me absolutely engrossed...but although Karen and our younger companions did too, they didn't enjoy it quite as much so we left sooner than I'd have liked.
Further up the road we stopped at Lake Hart, a vast salt lake, to walk out onto its flat white shiny surface, lick the salt and do some boomerang throwing. As you do . It was very cold and windy but quite fun. The photo of the salt covered stumps of the pier on the lake below has also become our second featured photo in the Travellers Point Australia gallery.
Later in Glendambo we got an ice-cream and saw just a couple of the town's 30 people. We didn't see any of the 22,000 sheep but did swat a few of the 400,000 flies mentioned on the sign as you enter the town.
North of Glendambo Shelley abruptly stopped at what appeared to be a zebra crossing on the highway many kilometres from anywhere. It's the beginning of a portion of the highway that does double duty as a runway for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. We posed for some photos and moments later, despite not seeing any traffic for ages, we had to scurry off the highway to avoid getting skittled.
L to R Holly, Karen, Perry, Elaine, Niamh, Fabian, Marc
Then, after many more kilometres, we arrived in Coober Pedy. 50% of the town is underground and our accommodation was too. Most of the group stayed in an underground bunker that could sleep more than 50 people. It was massive and cut out of solid rock.
We'd paid for an upgrade though so we stayed in the Desert Cave International Hotel, again in an underground room. If you turned the lights off it was pitch black and you needed the ceiling fan on for airflow which wasn't ideal for Karen as she's mildly claustrophobic but the room was very big so she was ok. We even got to play air hockey underground in the hotel's game room.
A Coober Pedy Sunset