Tim Seekaamps Mine at Olympic Field near Coober Pedy. This blower unit is a combination of large fan unit to suck mining debris into the hopper (upper right) and a 440 volt generator to power the underground tunneling machine and lights.
On previous trips to Oz, I made the drive from Lightning Ridge to Coober Pedy in 3 days, but it looks like it’s going to take 4 this year. Guess I’m getting old…or perhaps a bit wiser not pushing myself too hard. But I only have a 150km left so it’s easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Up at 7:00am at the Bon Bon rest area. The wind (and clouds) had come up again during the night and rocked the camper for several hours. But upon rising the sky was clear and the wind calm…portends to be a lovely day in the outback!! On the road by 8:00am and driving was a delight without the stress-inducing wind. Stopped at the next rest area to make another pot of coffee and picked up a gent with an empty petrol can looking for a ride into Coober Pedy. He had misjudged his fuel consumption and had used a lot more than expected due to the strong head winds. Normally I don’t pick up hitchhikers but he was driving a Toyota Land Cruiser and looked respectable, just in need of assistance. So it was nice to have some conversation for part of the trip and it felt good to help him out. He was a teacher heading up to Darwin for a job interview on an aboriginal reserve. Dropped him off at the Shell Roadhouse.
Checked into the Mud Hut Motel in Coober and prepaid for a 4 day stay. This is my usual “home away from home” in Coober. I’ve gotten to know the staff and they serve marvelous breakfasts. Rooms are clean and quiet, beds comfortable and they rent tough 4WD Toyotas which is very handy when I need to get out into the opalfields to look at parcels or mines.
Stopped at John & Yoka’s Opal and Art shop on main street in Coober Pedy to see how productive his mining has been and if he had any parcels on hand. John mines opal with his longtime mining partner Paul Reynolds while his wife Yoka takes care of their store which sells Australian art and opal jewelry. His news, like many opal miners here, was a bit discouraging…hadn’t found any new opal for about 2 years. He was currently drilling at Donna’s Rush opalfield and was encouraged by what he had found recently in his test holes. But he knew other miners who had found opal and gave me a few names. Thanks John!
I had lunch at John’s Pizza Bar and Restaurant run by a Greek family and my favorite lunch spot in Coober. I almost always order the lamb Gyro (or Yuro as they are spelled here) and chips…as I did today. Chips in Australia are french fries and our chips are actually called crisps in Australia or the UK. Anyway…they have great Gyros!
After Lunch visited with Terry Brennan and he had opal but was busy and made an appointment to visit with him tomorrow (5/11). Took a very long walk around Coober Pedy and stopped by and visited with Trevor Berry at the Old Timers Mine…a premier tourist attraction and jewelry store. Beneath the dug-out store is an actual opal mine dating from 1916 with precious opal still in the walls. A great place to see for anyone visiting Coober. Shows in detail how early opal mining was accomplished. And they also give a demonstration of a “blower” used in opal mining today.
Trevor had a couple parcels for sale and I made arrangements for a later visit and have a better look.
Supper tonight was at the Opal City Chinese Restaurant. Prawns with vegetables looked good and also ordered hot & sour soup and steamed rice. Hot & sour soup was indeed hot. Needed a couple extra napkins to wipe the top of my head (and blow my nose). But it was, good as were the prawns and vegetables. But the price was a bit steep: AU$35.00. But food is more expensive here than at home.
Finished reading the Ian Caldwell’s The Fifth Gospel…surprise ending!
More searching for opal parcels tomorrow!