A Merry Aussie Christmas

A Merry Aussie Christmas from Coober Pedy & Adelaide!

Christmas Eve in Australia started at 5am when we woke up in our swags on the grounds of our Uluru campsite. We set off for a town called Coober Pedy over 700 kilometres away – famous for producing over 70% of the world’s Opals.

The journey took us out of the Northern Territory and into the state of South Australia, where we all had to adjust our watches – SA is an hour ahead of the Northern Territory.

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We arrived at Coober Pedy at 4.45pm – one of the first times we have arrived anywhere in daylight! This enabled us to experience the extreme heat of the town – it can get up to 50 degrees in the summer and I’d say that it wasn’t far off while we were there!

On the way there we passed the famous ‘Dingo Fence’ – the longest fence in the world (in fact, it’s the world’s longest running construction). The fence was designed to keep the local Dingoes from the North of Australia out of South Australia and away from the sheep!

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Coober Pedy is a really interesting town. The majority of the local population lives in underground houses to escape the sun and the whole place has a deserted space-like landscape. Parts of the sci-fi film ‘Pitch Black’ were filmed here and the spaceship from the film is still on show at the side of the road.

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The only reason for the town’s existence is the sheer amount of Opal buried underground, so to learn more about how the gem was discovered we visited the opal mine museum attached to our hostel. We watched a film all about its accidental discovery by a young lad out searching for water. He was part of a group of people who were on the hunt for Gold in the Outback, but got into difficulties and ended up looking for waterholes instead!

We were also given a demonstration of how an Opal is cut and polished before going down into one of the old mines and getting a taste of what it’s like to be a miner.

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That evening we had a special ‘Christmas Eve Dinner’ at John’s Pizza Bar & Restaurant. The food was fantastic (massive Pizzas!) and we had a great night with the rest of the group. We rounded off the evening in an underground bar across the road, before heading to bed in our unique underground bunkhouse.

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We woke up at 4am on Christmas Day and packed up our things ready for the 10 hour journey to Adelaide where we were to spend the next two days. On the way we stopped at a town called Woomera, famous as the western world’s largest defense systems testing range. It was established in 1947 and quickly became one of the most secret allied bases established during the Cold War. Hundreds of British rockets and missiles were tested there as it was the only place that they could travel for over 2000 miles without crossing any roads, cities or towns (i.e, it’s really remote!). We had a walk around the current town and looked at the array of missiles, rockets and aircraft on display by the roadside.

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Our next stop was lunch at Port Augusta – it was a beautiful Christmas Day so we decided to sit by the inland beach and have a bit of a picnic.

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We finally arrived in Adelaide at around 6pm and got showered and changed for our upcoming Christmas meal at 7pm! We cracked open our box of Aussie wine and sat around a table with Oz-busers Chris, Andrew, Ross, Andy & James – as well our tour leader Michelle and local guide Mark. The hostel put on the obligatory Christmas tunes for us and we tucked into a meal of turkey, beef, pork, roast spuds, salad and (bizarrely) garlic bread and fries!

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Soon after we had eaten we both rushed off to phone home and wish our family a merry Christmas, before returning for the long-awaited Secret Santa unveiling! Richard got a fantastic gift from his mystery Santa – a t-shirt and shorts from Bali, however I was just handed an envelope containing $5, as my secret Santa had ‘forgotten’ to join in with the game!

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Gifts un-wrapped, we then headed to the bar and proceeded to get very ‘Merry’ with the rest of the group! A great night was had by all and we both really enjoyed our Christmas – despite being slightly apprehensive about spending the day so far away from home.

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The next day we had the longest lie-in of all, recovering from the night before, then went for a walk around pretty Adelaide city.

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We had lunch in the Hog’s Breath Café on Gouger Street which was absolutely gorgeous and then went back to the hostel to catch up on an action-packed week’s worth of blog posts!

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