Woomera to Indulkana via Coober Pedy (700 km) via National Highway A87
We woke to a fresh crisp autumn morning in the arid desert country that is Woomera. The sun blazed brilliantly against the blue sky. It was time to take a test spin around the rocket town on our electrically charged mountain bikes! A perfect opportunity for me to continue testing various textiles for my upcoming active and dance wear collections. Cottons, eco-friendly blends including recycled polyesters, modal, bamboos and even luxurious silks all on the experimental drawing board. Like Woomera top secret rocket scientists, we were off exploring how different weaves would handle the rigours of adventure travel in the great Australian outback.
Woomera, historically has been a secretive town because of its war time missions. Now, in the centre of the tiny village, currently home to approximately 30 employees there is a museum complete with rocket relics of the past. We find the rose garden, local school, see some kangaroo’s hop across the road in front of us, visit the general store and discover there is even a cinema with movies showing! Godzilla is playing! We meet one of the locals, who is having a Sunday morning walk with their dog!
Then it’s time to depart! Afterall, we are on a schedule, dictated by the moon. We have to be in Broome in time to experience the full moon there! There is no time to waste, as the drive to Broome in front of us is equivalent to driving from San Francisco to New York, but not on modern freeways! Our first stop today, on our way to visit friends in the remote outback Aboriginal community Indulkana will be Coober Pedy. Coober Pedy is the Aboriginal word for “White Fella’s Hole” in reference to the holes dug in search of opal. The world’s most beautiful opals come from Coober Pedy!
Our favourite stop in Coober Pedy is the Umoona Opal Mine and Museum (https://www.umoonaopalmine.com.au). Umoona, the name of the common tough, desert mulga tree and chosen by the local Aboriginal people for its meaning of “long life”. The Umoona Opal Mine and Museum is a world class facility, providing an unforgettable underground experience sure to leave a deep appreciation of Opal, Coober Pedy and the amazing history surrounding the area. There are rare and extremely beautiful displays of Opal and the story of the ancient inland sea, which Mathew Flinders was looking for (refer to Day 1), only 120 million years too late, is told in revealing detail. Coober Pedy, evidently was in a shallow warm part of this ancient sea making it the perfect place for breeding and raising young sea creatures of the dinosaur era. Marine dinosaur reptiles dominated these seas and were fierce predatory creatures, true monsters of the deep. Many of the beautiful opals from Coober Pedy are actually opalized fossil remains!
We had lunch in Coober Pedy and planned to spend more time here on our return home in a few weeks. It was time again to get going. Next stop Indulkana and dinner with friends. We still had another 3 hours of desert driving, heading north on A87! A brief sunset pitstop at Marla to refuel and then we found ourselves being directed by Google Maps into Indulkana the back way! A big mistake as we very quickly found our way forward on the road blocked by all kinds of debris. Old tires, fridges, items of clothing, pieces of metal and wood. Not understanding the significance of what we had stumbled unwittingly upon, we ducked and weaved our way through the debris, which required going off road. Shortly afterwards and now on the main street of Indulkana we found our friends! They had left their porch light on for us and welcomed us warmly. It was only then we discovered, Google had brought us into town in the most direct way but not the most appropriate way. The debris had been deliberately placed to indicate ‘sorry business’. The passing of one of the townspeople. Out of respect the road is blocked to all passerby’s! We made our apologies for our transgression and learn’t from the experience. Welcome to the APY lands (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara indigenous people) and more of the great Australian Outback!
Luxury Designer, Actor, Adventurer!