After four days of being ‘off the air’ so to speak, we arrived today in a little town of 2000 people called Coober Pedy where opal mining dominates EVERYTHING in the town.
Dear friends, it is the wild wild west as far as I am concerned! It is situated in the middle of nowhere. However, having said that, it is a very interesting town with more opal jewellery shops than you could ever imagine … at least about thirty of them.
When I left you last, we were leaving Uluru to go to a canyon called Kings Canyon 300 ks away. Everyone said, it was a ‘must see’ before leaving the area and it did not disappoint.
We stayed at an outback station called Kings Creek Station where we found Camel Pie on the menu – the camels were looking so innocent when we arrived. I wondered if they realised they could end up in a pie if they weren’t careful? They were also used for camel rides as well. Plenty of camels out there so perhaps there is hope for some of them!
Since leaving Kings Creek, we have stayed in two overnight stops – one in Kulgera (pop 50) and the other called Cadney Homestead (pop 30). Basically, these places are kept going by the grey nomads going up and down the centre of Australia staying overnight.
They are virtually a Roadhouse with petrol, food a pub and some groceries. We’ve had some very interesting experiences at these places although they have no mobile phone or internet access however, they attract a lot of people to Happy Hour at the Bar as well as meals. It is here you meet and chat with fellow travellers.
Now, we are back in so-called civilisation here at Coober Pedy, I am writing a post to fill you in on our travels. We’ll be in the wilderness again from Saturday onwards. We have decided to stay here two nights as there is a lot to see.
We visited a church this afternoon which is underground. Yes, I did say ‘underground’. It is so hot in summer that they have dug out areas under ground and turned them into churches, houses, restaurants or gift shops. Fascinating place this town!
I visited 45 years ago and it was a very small town then. I couldn’t believe how much it had grown and changed. Geoff and I did a walk of the town this afternoon and met some locals which is always great.
Now dear friends, I’ll leave you with this tale I was told whilst in town. We went to a Bakery to buy cake for afternoon tea (yes, I know … naughty naughty!) and saw a paper clipping on the counter “Thief breaks into Bakery and cooks himself a late night snack!”
When I asked the owner about it, he said the thief had been caught on CCTV and he was doing all kinds of bizarre things like dancing in the dark after he had cooked himself eggs. He also hit himself on a beam and got knocked out! He was found fast asleep in the storeroom and taken away.
The owner said “Oh, apparently he was from Melbourne and it seems his doctor is looking for him!” Don’t you love this story … and what’s more, it is true! It could only happen in Coober Pedy.
The name of this post today was given to me by my granddaughter Alice (11). We were swimming in the sea on a small island called Coochiemudlo at the time.
Alice and her sister Violet (6) were so excited that this ‘old grandmother’ was swimming in the ocean with them, that they almost drowned me but … hey, to be loved so much that one is almost drowned because of it, is very special indeed!
As we frolicked and swam in the sea, Alice said to me: “Grandma, you will have to write a blog about this and call it ‘The Coochiemudlo Report.” I was amazed at this 11-year-old who is growing up and is so astute at times that she amazes me. “Of course Alice, I will do just that!”
Ta da … so here is the Coochiemudlo Report. Exactly as ordered by my granddaughter.
However, that was not the end of the conversation in the sea. No. I was telling Alice that I was a bit too old to be doing some of the things in the ocean that she suggested when she said: “But Grandma, you are not old! (how kind) you are only about forty aren’t you?”
Weelll … considering that her mother (my daughter) turned 40 last year this was a bit much and I reminded Alice of this fact. “Ooops” she said. “So Alice, it seems I must have been zero when I gave birth to your mother eh?”
There was much laughter but Alice still could not believe that I was actually 66 years old. Perhaps it is because of the fun that we have together? Perhaps it is because I am just a little bit “silly” and the girls love this. Let me explain my ‘silliness’ to you here in this Coochiemudlo Report.
We’d had a picnic lunch right near the beach and the adults were having a coffee/tea while the girls were coming and going, playing on the sand and swimming. Coochiemudlo (called ‘Coochie’ by the locals) is such a great place for small children as it has a calm, shallow sea and picnic spots almost on the beach.
The girls were having fun finding pippi shellfish (Donax deltoides also known as : beach pipi, clam, Coorong cockle, eugarie, pippie, ugari) at the ocean edge and I gave them a little container and a plastic bag to put them in as they played. However, it wasn’t enough just to play with them.
It seemed that they wanted to take these little tasty morsels home to do ‘who knows what’ with and all of us were trying to tell them that they would die if they removed them (you can actually fry them in butter and eat them like mussels but we dared not suggest this!)
So I pointed to a sign nearby which read something like “Coochmudlo Island, the place to be” and I said to the girls: “See that sign there; underneath the writing it says in invisible ink: ‘Do not remove pippies from the beach!'” Alice can read so she tried in vain to find where this was written. No luck.
Violet (who cannot read) went right up close to the sign to find the magic writing. Now, as Violet does believe in magic she was more willing to believe that these words existed but Alice was far less trusting and said “Grandma, you are making that up!”
Now I ask you … would a Grandma lie to her precious grandchildren? Well, yes she would … if she was a little bit silly and wanted to make a point. And once the point was made and all of us – adults and children alike – laughed our heads off, the pippies were eventually returned to the sea. Mother did help in the persuasion I might add.
Do you see what I mean about being ‘silly?’ It is imperative for an adult to teach her grandchildren that old age is not about becoming cranky. No. It is about having fun and being just a tad silly at times. Luckily, we are not their mothers!
If you bear in mind the sadness I have been feeling over losing my sister so suddenly, you can understand that the fun I have been having this week has actually been an antidote to this sadness which lies just under the surface of my life all the time.
In fact, on Saturday Geoff and I were immersed in watching the powerful movie ‘Les Miserables’ at the Cinema when the character of Marius – the only survivor of the Barricade incident where the poor fight the rich – begins to sing: “There’s a grief that can’t be spoken … the grief goes on and on.” Immediately this pulled at my heart strings and I knew this was ME.
This grief I feel over losing my sister is a grief that goes on and on. The time for speaking about it has mostly ended but I am still sad. Still, it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t get on with my life and have fun. I know that Margaret would want that. The grief just lingers under the surface. I do have people I can share it with at times, but I also need to escape it at other times.
So dear friends, today as I look back at my enjoyable week I feel really blessed. I have seen, not one but two movies, I have met with three close girlfriends drinking coffee and talking the day away, had fun at my Book Club, visited baby Madeleine and Isaac (3) and had a lovely day by the sea with family.
Sometimes, when the time is right, one has to get up and keep moving. Joy doesn’t come by sitting around and feeling sorry for yourself. No. You have to start moving and then it can come right in the midst of your grief … when you least expect it.
The trick is to snatch JOY whenever you can …