My aim is to travel from the UK to Brisbane for one of my best friends' wedding. Plane travel is so environmentally damaging so I am looking for another way. I also think that by travelling over land and sea I will be able to understand our world better as I will connect with the people and landscapes and not just look at the departure board in the airport. Any tips gratefully received!! Departure date 1st September.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

To Coober Pedy and Alice Springs

About 3 weeks later than expected, I finally depart Adelaide for Alice Springs, (isn't slow travel great!) I take a Groovy Grape bus which takes us via a night in Coober Pedy, the famous, remote, opal mining town where many people live in underground 'caves'. Our first day's drive takes us past lots of salt lakes and some surprisingly green desert (due to recent rains and floods.) Our driver Tash is good fun and it is great to share travelling stories with her. She is very into her wildlife and helps to point out a load of wedge tail eagles and as we search for her favourite thorny devil lizard we see Lizardus Plasticus! After a very hot day in the bus we arrive at Coober Pedy just before sunset and get to see the end of another day in this strange place. Piles of excavated rock everywhere and with its drive-in cinema there are many similarities between this place and a 1950's small country US town. It is not very beautiful and quite industrial. Our home for the night is in a disappointing 'cave' half dugout hostel. The one impressive feature is the 24 degrees c constant temperature, but like many buildings here they are functional, not beautiful, and with their dust protective glaze, look on the inside very much like fake, stone fire surrounds from gas fires circa 1970! After dinner we venture out and finally find the miners bar. After a bizarre chat with local miner David, I realise it is safest to go to bed. In the morning we get a free tour of the opal museum! It is actually very interesting and I discover amongst other things that they have only had their sewage system for 4 years and it has been designed to flow through their school field, which is extremely and beautifully green! So the idea here is you dig a mine to look for opals and on the way you can make yourself a house, which needs no air conditioning! Only 60 dollars a year for 50mx50m plot but you have to be there fairly regularly to mine it. Onwards and northwards and another long, hot day in the bus staring at the endless desert. When we finally arrive in Alice Springs I have lost all sense of humour I ever had with the heat (can't even put my feet down on the floor of the bus as it is burning!). I have food with the friendly folk from the bus and pass out cold 2123km progress further home made!!


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