|Big Winch, Coober Pedy, South Australia|
Like a giant sword of Damocles, Coober Pedy’s Big Winch looms over the head of a hapless tourist. Well … actually, it’s Pilchard, sacrificing himself for the photgraphic greater good – so you can see just how big the ‘Big Winch’ actually is! Luckily for him, the perspective is an optical illusion – and he’s in no danger at all.
The Big Winch clearly supports Coober Pedy’s claim as ‘Opal Capital of the World’ – its presence would immediately overwhelm any pretenders to the title!!
This remote frontier mining town, just ‘up the road’ from the Woomera turnoff, deep in the South Australian outback, has much of its accommodation underground to beat the heat – an odd experience we just had to have on our first visit (2004, when these photos were taken).
Great for the non-claustrophobic – the absence of windows can be disconcerting – we awoke in the dead blackness of night to a pinging sound from the air vent above. A sandstorm? Metal contracting in the cold night air?? Friday-night-post-pub night revellers flicking gravel at the vent (as one does)??? No, it was raining! Yes, RAINING!! Arid? Desert?? Yeah … right!
|Underground at Coober Pedy, South Australia|
The paranoid may reflect on the ease with which terrorists could use the vents to decimate the town with poison gas, but can probably rest assured that Coober Pedy isn’t a strategic or politically viable target. Unless there’s something I don’t know …
That’s what’ll keep you coming back!!