Day 28. Friday 25 August.

Noisy neighbours rather than our Butcherbird awoke us this morning – too early.

D was blissfully unaware of instructions on the sheet handed out at check-in that we were not to fill water tanks – we could do that elsewhere at 20 cents per 30 litres. He loaded in 35 litres to top us up – and was then told by T of this restriction. Felt bad for a nano-second, rationalizing that the 40 cents the shower machine gobbled up last night when T pre-loaded more than made up for this transgression. So our $30 got us a handkerchief sized piece of dirt, no water (in theory, anyway) and 20 cents for a short shower. Hmmm – we won’t be going back to the Oasis Caravan Park!

A walk through a couple of streets in Coober Pedy brought back memories of our visit ten years ago with Gloria, when she was having trouble stopping – the only way to turn the motor off was to put it in gear and stall it! The mechanic at that time was bamboozled, so we headed off with the issue unresolved.

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Coober Pedy is a strange place; all pink, dotted with mounds of earth, lots of underground residences, air vent chimneys, and shop after shop claiming to have the best deal in opal. The area produces mostly white opal which is not hugely interesting but real estate is cheap: a 2 bedroom dugout costs around $75k and the demographic is very multicultural.

This morning we stopped in for coffee and remarked to one of the staff that we thought nothing much had changed in 10 years – he was affronted, saying he’d been here for six years and had seen lots of change. He added that he’d come for a holiday, had fallen in love with the lifestyle, and had no plans to leave. He and his partner in the café were almost a Laurel and Hardy duo. The other guy was a Scot from Leith, still with his broad accent. When D remarked that he thought it was an unusual Belgian accent (the café specialized in Belgian waffles) he was quickly warned not to say that in front of the Scot!

The road south – it is long and straight and boring, although there were stretches of trees and shrubs occasionally interrupting the flat salt bush landscape – but not many. Stopped for fuel at the Shell Roadhouse Glendambo pop. 30, (there’s also a BP – both pretty big enterprises), which turned out to be a delight. The three staff were friendly and engaging. T noticed a sign advertising home made sausage rolls and indicated this to D, but he couldn’t hear over the noise of the fuel pump. But when he was paying (and T was using the facilities) he noticed them in the warmer and bought the last one. He offered T a bite, which she reluctantly accepted, complaining to the staff that D had taken the last one. ‘I can heat one up for you, love’, he said, and did. And to top it off, they had the cleanest ’public’ toilets ever experienced in Australia. Well done Shell Glendambo!

The landscape changed: salt lakes appeared, then a slight row of hills, then there were sheep and finally the railway line but the red sand is still with us. Interestingly, still not much in the way of wild life or road kill. The knitting project is rather like triple baked goodies (knit some, pull it out, knit some more). At day’s end it was into forward motion. About 100 km north of Port Augusta, a bush site off the highway beckoned, so we turned off and set up for the night, complete with campfire and Porterhouse steak and coal- baked potatoes. Just the right amount of personal space!

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