We left the Flinders Ranges just in time as a storm rolled in and the rain started bucketing down. As we drove north, the white blanket covering the sky slowly faded away and left a rainbow of burnt orange earth, yellow grasses, green shrubs and trees and a clear blue sky. We are heading north and the distances are unbelievably HUGE! To break up the drive to Uluru, we stopped about 9 hours later in Coober Peedy.
As with most places, there is no one story that you could tell to describe Coober Peedy or the people that live in this barren, roasting, remote opal mining town. In our short time there we were privy to just a few.
The first came from the owners of Riba’s, the worlds only underground campsite. The owners were travelling around Australia, came across some land for sale, mined it for opals and later created an underground campsite.
We arrived at dusk, hoped out of the car, smelled the incredibly fresh air (the clear, sweet smell taking me back to Kibbutz Sde Boker) and were ushered into the underground reception where temperatures stay a comfortable 23 degrees all year round, even when outside it can get up to 62 degrees during the day in summertime. We had a very very quiet and comfortable night sleep.
The next morning we visited Faye’s 3 bedroom underground house, complete with indoor swimming pool and a bar. This amazing woman was one of the first to arrive in Coober Peedy and dug out her house with the help of two girlfriends. She eventually sold the house on the condition that it remain a lived-in home and open to visitors.
I was inspired by her tenacity and adventurous spirit as I cannot imagine how harsh the conditions must have been when she first arrived. Also intriguing is the couple who now manage the place, grey nomads who passed through the town a few times, signed up to manage the place for a year and so far have stayed for 8!