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The Geelong Gem & Mineral Club Articles section.
Article ID : 64
Audience : Default
Version 1.00.02
Published Date: 2010/11/23 16:30:00
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The Best Laid Plans of Mice & Men

One of the things about taking off on a big trip which is to include many of the major fossicking areas along the way is that it makes you become a little bit more selective about what you pick up and what you target.
One of our early targets was to be malachite and since Burra SA was on our route we thought we would scour the place to see if there were any stray pieces laying about. The information centre had 2 pieces for sale, something smaller than a bantam chooks egg which was poor quality & only suitable for a specimen and costing $25. Apparently these were the last remaining pieces available in Burra.

Coober Pedy was our next point of interest where we did the tourist thing looking at all the major opal shops; funnily enough very few had any reasonably priced rough for sale. There didn’t seem to be much going on around the field in the way of mining, just the odd one here & there. One point of note was that the fields begin about 40 km south of Coober Pedy now.

The Breakaways about 30 km from the town was well worth a visit. The absolute magical quality about the landscape and the cultural significance to the Aboriginal People leave you in awe. We continued beyond the Breakaways returning to Coober Pedy via the Dog Fence and the Oodnadatta Track. Well worth the two day stopover.

The Mintabi Opal Fields; surely we must crack it right this time. Marla is the place to obtain permits to enter Aboriginal Land and at the same time to refuel. Although Mintibi is only 36 km from the Stuart Highway, it is rugged country and good preparation is everything and so is good information. After refuelling I made enquiries about the road condition from the local service station owner. “yes, you will get through if you take your time, allow 4-5 hours” Will we make it with the caravan? I asked. “you’ve got to be bloody joking mate, 4x4 are lucky to make it at this stage. We’ve had a lot of water” Strike 3. Its worth commenting, the landscape is beautiful and green, grass is 60cm high everywhere you look.

Moving on, we decided to take some time moving up to Alice Springs making Erldunda our next stop, from here we would visit Kings Canyon. (we visited Uluru last visit year) Kings Canyon is 270km from Erldunda. This trip proved to be very interesting as several of the flood ways along the road still had sand across them from the recent floods one in particular was 75 cm deep; the only reason traffic was able to get through was that someone had cleared just enough room to let the tour buses through. Imagine two vertical walls of sand with an 2.5 m slot through the centre to allow vehicles to get through, evidence of the amount of rain that had deluged the area.

Kings Canyon was magnificent with the colours of the orange & red sandstone against the blue sky and lush greenery, the flowing water in the creek and plenty of birdlife made the visit very rewarding. Success at last.


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