Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Coober Pedy. Strange place.

Scuse the lack of interaction, internet's been more than dodgy. Fear not! I got back from Coober Pedy last Wednesday. It's a place so out of touch with my own experience that it's hard to form an opinion on whether I liked it or not. It filled my need for something different, let's put it that way. There was a film set unreality about it, err...a bit like being on the King King ride at Universal Studios. Know what I mean?



When it's not being all famous n that, Coober Pedy is a real, working opal mining town where real people live and work underground. They're laid to rest there too, in graves where beer bottles are left as a mark of respect instead of flowers. One beer keg headstone was engraved with the solemn words 'Have a drink on me'. I'm reliably informed that they did.

One thing's for sure, the town and alcohol have an uneasy relationship. The main street is a designated 'dry zone', like several other inland towns near Government funded Aboriginal settlements where alcoholism is rife. It's such a problem that the the two Liquor Stores are banned from selling casks of wine before 3pm (because everybody knows alcoholics don't drink after then). From the interactions I see on the street and the stories I hear from a local, the white people and the Aboriginals have an uneasy relationship, too. But we'll save that one for another day.



There was the local radio station, aptly named Dusty FM. A drive-in cinema, still screening a film every Saturday night. My hostel room was 6.5 metres below the surface (see above). On Monday 11th January, it was 45 degrees, yet my room was a cool 20 with not an air con unit in sight. Outside of town, there were vast empty plains which used to be the sea bed, but is now used to replicate the surface of the moon in mostly bad films (apart from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. That's good).

There were kangaroos hopping down the unsealed roads, dogs wondering loose. A few tourists, motels, locals and lots of opal shops graced the main street, while spaceships and other sci-fi props sat gathering red dust at the side of the road. Just like any other day.



Overall, Coober Pedy, with its eccentric and indigenous inhabitants seemed like the kinda place that anything could happen. And to be honest, if the town notice board is anything to go by, I think it probably does.

10 comments:

Grump said...

When I went to Coober Pedy about 20 something years ago, the main street wasn't dry and I saw a young aboriginal man being stalked by someone who could of been his granny. It was early evening, he had a cask and she was after it. I sat and watched as she followed him up the road. Then she pounced when he was least expecting it. She made off with the cask of wine. Only to be rugby tackled soon afterwards, and the young guy stole it back. I can't remember whether she got her lips around the teat or not.
Saw lots of things in the red centre. If you have time drop in on Woomera, if it is still there.
Catch you when you get to Melbourne.
Woof x

not twitter said...

When did could've become could of, fuck that pisses me off.

Anyway, to your post, sounds like time well spent. The hostel looks particularly attractive. The temp would have been nice but I imagine a top bunk gets you 20C second hand farts.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

What a lovely post, Jo. You’re becoming quite the travel writer. The demon alcohol has driven many a dusty down under the bridge. And I like the impounded dog notice, as well. Usually, you impound cars. Not dogs.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Grump - It doesn't strike me as the sort of place that changes much, and that story proves it! I'm sure I saw a similar scene while wondering around town. Lots of yelling and inaudible words being chucked about anyway. And ah yes...about Melbourne...I have a confession...

not twitter - could have, could of, could've. Hmmm, I see your point. Bunk beds have a habit of being horrendous no matter the temperature. These were particularly shit because they were so low, so I banged my head multiple times getting in and out of bed (bottom bunk).

Unbearable - Why thank you, glad you liked it. That notice board was the funniest thing I've seen, there were dog impounding notices, stolen toilet messsages, kimodo dragons for sale...it's all a bit nuts that town.

Grump said...

Is your confession you are not coming to Melbourne? Sad face.
Woof x

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Hmm, not quite. But just remember I'm a week behind with my posting here ;) This blog is not quite current at the moment...

Grump said...

So are you here already? Been and Gone?
Call into www.pickwick.com.au North Fitzroy.
Woof x

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Sadly Grump, I haven't revealed myself in person to any readers before, and I'm not about to start now. However, I will be letting everyone know what and where and how I've been, and where I am now, in due course :) So stick with it.

theperpetualspiral said...

Go on, admit it Jo, you stole that (used) toilet didn't you? You little trouble maker you...

Robbie said...

It does look like you stepped on the set of Mad Max.

 

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