Saturday, 17 January 2015

They Even Have A Spaceship

Coober Pedy, South Australia

Should you be headed south of Uluru and Kata Tjuta on your epic Aussie adventure, be sure to visit Coober Pedy, just a rough 750km drive from the Red Centre via the Stuart Highway. Out in the middle of nowhere, it’s known for underground dwelling residents, a golf course void of any grass (the only green patch you’ll find is at the primary school) and a space ship left over from Pitch Black. Fellow nerds, be sure to come here!                                                 
Coober Pedy, South Australia (taken by Lyn and Tony Eden, 2010)
Coober Pedy, South Australia (taken 2005)

Despite my school camp hitting the place on our way north back in 2005, I’ve chosen to highlight the sights you’ll come across should you hit the town from the opposite direction. One such marvel is the Breakaways, a unique setting of flat-topped outcrops you have to save some camera time for.

The Breakaways, South Australia (taken 2005)

The Breakaways, South Australia (taken by Lyn and Tony Eden, 2010)

This breathtaking landscape, thirty kilometres north of Coober Pedy and on a reserve of forty square kilometres, was where Tina Turner was seen hunting down a fella called Max in a flick named Beyond Thunderdome. Rich with fauna and wonder, this is another example of how out-there the Australian landscape can look.                                                   

Further south you’ll come by a few bodies of glistening saltwater that’re worth a walk along. Provided you come by the lake I’ve posted photos of (I do apologise but I wasn’t able to learn the name) have a look for the rusted up camper van rocking the graffiti. Thanks to the cover of Tim Winton’s The Turning, abandoned car wrecks now have some appeal.       

Salt Lake, South Australia (taken 2005)

Should you be stretched for time and feeling fatigued, stop over at the Cadney Homestead. We had a relaxing time here amongst the locals and road trains but the one let down was the suss smell that was going around. Fingers are crossed it’s been taken care of.       

Cadney Homestead, South Australia (taken 2005)

And now we’re at the prize of this journey. First established by gold prospectors on February 1st 1915, Coober Pedy’s name originates from the Aboriginal phrase ‘Kupa Piti’ which loosely means ‘white man’s hole in the ground’. Whilst the prospectors didn’t come by much gold, they did discover what would become the world’s largest deposit of opals, ahead of Mexico and Brazil. The town makes a living off of these minerals so you’ll find more than enough on offer. If a walk about is your agenda, suss out a guide beforehand because trespassing on claims comes with a $1000 fine, and there’s also the added risk of falling through the ground.

Coober Pedy, South Australia (taken 2005)

Another most unique feature about Coober Pedy are the underground homes, dugouts, that are considered (in this most severely tempered environment) ingenious. We did stay underground for our night here, due to safety reasons, and I have to say that fragments of the ceiling did fall to the ground and ignite the freak out effect but that was all. We had a very cool nights sleep. As well as homes, we did come by a swimming pool and a chapel functioning beneath the surface so that’s what you’re like to find.                                                

Coober Pedy, South Australia (taken 2005)

When it’s a clear day you’re awarded a great view atop one of the many dirt hills that provided its share of wind and dust, which is to be expected, but who would really care. The view is brilliant. Coober Pedy is one of Australia’s most unique townships, thanks to its hobbits and space ship, so you have to give it a shot. 

Coober Pedy, South Australia (taken by Lyn and Tony Eden, 2010) 



Monday, 5 January 2015

One Day Trip Everyone Must Take!

Royal Melbourne Zoo, Victoria

For this new post I’ve chosen to go a little different and step away from the ‘epic faraway destination’ theme. The Royal Melbourne Zoo, a daytrip every visitor has to take! A short tram or train ride from the city to Parkville is the focus good reader, so I hope you enjoy.        

Royal Melbourn Zoo, Victoria (taken 2015)

Several months ago I was discussing The Sheep Was Here with co-workers and a passing comment about the landmark made me wonder if it was entitled to its own spot in the light; further talk had my decision set in stone but somewhere down the line I realised that that wasn’t my only reason for writing this post. The Melbourne Zoo is in my opinion where our earliest memories and love for the world really takes flight.                                          

In getting there it’s an easy drive or if you don’t care for traffic or paying for parking just take the Upfield train and hop off at Royal Park or the number 55 tram from Williams Street; the stations are skipping distance from the rear entrance. Entry fees vary but members can visit for free. The Royal Melbourne Zoo is a part of Zoos Victoria, an organisation that includes Werribee Open Range Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary.                                   

Royal Melbourne Zoo, Victoria (taken 2015)

Following its establishment on October 6th, 1862 the zoo was first utilised to acclimatise domestic animals to Australia, but by 1870 exotic species began to be introduced. In those days it was the norm for animals to spend their time behind bars (these original enclosures are still on display) and be thrown peanuts, but gradually things began improving within the mid twentieth century.                                                                               
Melbourne was the first to open an enclosure simulating African savannah for its lions (in 2015 an upgraded enclosure was opened) which influenced many other organisations around the world. Upgrades have been awarded to other exhibits containing orang-utans, seals, Asian elephants and other species with many more to come. In addition they place a strong emphasis on conservation and are working to save many species from extinction, as well as supporting groups abroad that share the same objective.                               

Royal Melbourne Zoo, Victoria (taken 2015)

On a more ‘touristy’ note, the place is definitely somewhere you’ll enjoy getting lost in. As it’s written above, this is where our earliest memories can take flight. I’ve been coming here for years and the place has never failed to impress, even when a galah bit my finger at the age of three (No hard feelings but I’m a little annoyed that they didn’t have that fence surrounding the aviary at the time. That little feature being there then would’ve prevented my sister from quoting my ‘cocky bite’ line for years on end).                                            

Royal Melbourne Zoo, Victoria (taken 2015)

Other more promising memories include giant tortoises that, truthfully, have some speed in them and the gorillas, seeing baby Yakini for the first time and a full grown one punch the glass we were watching it through (touristy note, these guys take the best pictures). The Zoo has had its share of momentous births and they always bring out a crowd.         

Another recollection includes the panther that’s no longer on display; I remember one visit where I saw the big cat moving through its enclosure. Can’t really explain why but this image has always resonated with me, but since the panther is no longer on display I’m usually drawn towards the other big cats.                                                                     

Additionally this place isn’t just for children wanting to see wonders from around the world; in my time I’ve seen and been one of the individuals who’ve gone there with sketchbook and pencil to draw what’s on display (I would’ve done some sketches on my last photo taking venture but the heat was on) and come February visitors are welcomed to experience the Rhythm of Africa; musical performances that can liven up your evening. If that’s not enough, you can spend the night inside the walls during a Roar ‘n’ Snore experience and see the animals when they’re more active. During the day, Behind-the-scenes and Close-up encounters are available.

 Royal Melbourne Zoo, Victoria (taken 2015)

In saying all of this and at the risk of repeating myself too many times, the Zoo truly is a place to consider should you be swinging by Melbourne for a time. It has entertained and delighted many generations and continues to do so which I was happy to witness not long ago; my sister and her husband recently took their children there for the first time and seeing the photos on the Bookface really brought to light days of old. Not only that, passing wisdom onto my niece had its moments.                                                                                               

‘Don’t stick your finger in the aviary.’                                                                                   

It’s something that cannot be missed.