Thursday, June 23, 2011

Facts and Figures for Tassie Twosome

We have escaped Chilean ash clouds affecting Australian airspace, so that means the end of our adventure in Oz.  Thanks to everyone who has followed us and enjoyed our blog.  We'll finish with some statistics from our time in Australia.

Blog posts: 235 
Page views to date: 4083  
Approximate distance driven: 14,810 km (9202 miles)
(New York to LA is 2800 miles) 
Mammals spotted: 24
National parks visited: 17 
Birds spotted: 110 
Waterfalls viewed: 28
Caravan Parks we stayed in: 38
Australian States visited: All 6 and the Northern Territory
Pictures taken: about 8000
People who visited us: 2 (Thanks Sarah and Hannah!)
Scuba Dives: 17


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Becalmed by a Volcano

Not so "Minima!"

It's been an awesome experience in Australia over nearly 11 months.  However, it's going to be a little longer than we planned.  Due to ash from a volcano in Chile, Australian airspace is being affected and flights cancelled.  Therefore, we get 2 extra days in Adelaide.  In the end, it should work out o.k., as long as we leave on Thursday as planned.  We also got to check out a "mini" hotel, the Majestic Minima.  The hotel room was bigger than advertised and electronic check-in was painless.  A real value!

Km to Adelaide:  917
Total Km Perth-Darwin-Adelaide:  11510!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Dingo Fence

While we were in Coober Pedy, we drove out of town on the Oodnadatta Track to see the Dingo Fence.  Known in South Australia as the "Dog Fence," its purpose is to keep dingos out of the southeast sheep-farming region.  The Dingo Fence was completed in 1885 and remains the longest fence in the world.  It stretches over 5600km (3500 miles) from the Great Australian Bight to southeast Queensland.

The success of the fence is open to debate.  Dingos are less common in southeast Australia, but kangaroos and rabbits may be more common.  These animals compete with sheep for pastureland and may decrease the carrying capacity.

This intersection of the Oodnadatta Track and the Dingo Fence seemed particularly remote even though we were only about 15km from Coober Pedy.  It was very quiet and definitely another great Outback location.

Coober Pedy

This was one of the most interesting places we went on the whole trip and that is saying a lot.  Coober Pedy is primarily known for the mining of opals.  About 85% of the world's opal is from this area.  To say this is a unique town is an understatement.  The population is about 3,500 and 60% of the people are European.  This is truly an outback desert town with no grass, extreme heat in the summer, and it has only been since 1985 that there is a reliable water system.  50% of people live in dugout houses underground that stay at a constant temperature year round.  The first thing we did was go on a mine tour.
This mine dates back to 1916.  The shafts were filled in hiding the mine below and it wasn't until 1968 that is was accidently discovered when an underground home extension broke through. 

I'm posing with the mannequin of the first woman miner in the area.

I'm pointing at a picture of a 2 year old boy smoking!  These newspaper clippings were found when the mine was excavated.
This was a very informative and interesting tour with so much to see.  We even saw some real opal seams still embedded in the mine.

Next, we had to add a final "big thing" to our list-the big winch.
This picture is for my mom who hates grammatical errors on signs.
Underneath the "Free Addmission" someone wrote in the dust, "and free spell checks."
I think the only "big thing" less impressive than this was the Big Scotsman.
We also did a lot of shopping for souvenirs throughout the day but didn't buy much.  Our last stop before checking into the B and B was an underground church.
We stayed in a caravan park the first night but the second night we wanted to stay underground so we stayed at the Underground B and B.  Very nice place and very nice hosts.  We had a delicious dinner at a Greek restaurant too.

Km to Coober Pedy: 801
Total Km travelled: 10593


We were driving back from Kata Tjuta and Ben spotted five wild camels along the side of the road.  We hadn't seen them in the wild yet so this was quite exciting.  They just calmly kept eating and walking along.

With Uluru in the background

Kata Tjuta

The other big attraction at the national park besides Uluru is Kata Tjuta, also known as the Olgas.  Kata Tjuta means "many heads".  It is made up of 36 steep-sided domes.  These domes are made of a different type of sedimentary rock than Uluru.  They are made of conglomerate rock, also known as pudding stone.  It is a a mix of gravel, pebbles, and boulders cemented together by sand and mud. 
We did a great 7.4km walk through Kata Tjuta called the Valley of the Winds.  It was great walking weather with beautiful blue skies and cool temperatures.

Example of pudding stone

The walk around Uluru was amazing, but we may have enjoyed this walk more because there was some challenging parts to it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Many Faces of Uluru