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Showing posts with label Big Winch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Big Winch. Show all posts


Only in OZ #11 - The Big Winch, Coober Pedy, South Australia

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 ...

Who'd destroy a town with such a unique landmark, anyway? Loud and proud about its heritage, the 'Big Winch' at the Visitors Information Centre leaves the tourist in no doubt as to the town's main industry. Nor does the moonscape of mullock heaps stretching to infinity over the horizon – the visitor's heap is said to yield treasures the miners have missed ...

Getting lucky at Coober Pedy
Although it's my sad duty to tell you that the experience of finding a valuable gem on a tourist mullock heap CAN be faked!

But be warned! Come to this town indifferent to opal (as I was) at your peril!! Yeah, so I didn't buy the AMAZING $800 ring I immediately fell for, I now have a new (the unkind would say 'rabid') desire to possess this fabled gemstone – and I bet you will too!

That's what'll keep you coming back!!
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