Thursday, 7 November 2013

Desert inspiration

I spent some time in Coober Pedy for work last week. Coober Pedy is a desert town of around 1700 people, bang in the middle of South Australia - 850km north of Adelaide and a good 650km from any town of size. Pretty much the middle of nowhere!

Most of Coober Pedy

We left behind Adelaide under cloud cover and flew up the gulf, then quickly over the farmland around the top of Yorke and Eyre peninsulas and reduced cloud cover, before the clouds disappeared altogether and large areas of what appeared to be scrubland and large, dry salt lakes, then nothing but red desert for a very long way.

Opal mines seen just before landing

Coober Pedy came into being because of opal mining, and is Australia's (and hence the world's) opal capital. There are even opal mines in the main street! For some long-ago-determined reason, opal mining was restricted to small-scale operations, and the whole area is scattered with small holes (about a metre across) and surrounding mounds of white rock.

Looking back over the main street from a small lookout before dinner
Looking northwest out of town

It's an odd town, unlike anywhere  I've been before. It's a bit unsure of its identity, and full of surprises and contrast. Up to half the population lives in dugouts - houses dug into the side of the rock hills, which stay much cooler than typical homes. We were lucky with the weather - the week before it had been around 40C, which is not atypical even though it's over a month until summer, but we experienced tops around 30C - much more civilised!

 I went for a wander at dusk one evening, but most of my photos didn't
accurately capture the amazing colours or vastness of the desert sunset.

We had very little spare time around our work, but did manage a bit of a look around the place, and of course I took a heap of photos.

On the road to the airport - 2 minutes from town yet miles from anywhere!
The mines below were only about 100m from the road.

On the flight home I was also lucky to get this photo of the Moonta/Pt Hughes area on the Yorke Peninsula where my in-laws have their holiday home:

Surely there has to be a quilt out of the trip!

I'm in the middle of quilting one of my own quilts, and while it's coming along well enough, I'm just not inspired by it, so procrastination has been the order of the week. And as it's mostly black on black at the moment, any photos wouldn't show much, so I've not bothered.

1 comment:

Linda R said...

Beautiful pictures. Such a contrast to where I live in Ontario Canada. Thanks for sharing. Very interesting stories on the Opal mines. I love Opals!