Days 32-33: Oodnadatta to Coober Pedy
Third and last part of my dirt tracks adventures. . .
To make a long story short, I’ll just say that there is much more than sand and dust in the middle of Australia. People have lived there for countless years, surviving by finding water springs and whatever nature had in store for them. Other people have followed their footsteps to explore a new country. People have looked for gold, built a railway, built towns. People still live here, and a fair few travel in this region (some on a bicycle) and are amazed by what they see.
My stay in Oodnadatta was the occasion for my first contact with Aboriginal people. I was in no time welcome, and invited over to stay and meet everybody. There is so much to say, I don’t know if there’s much point in starting the topic here. “White fellow” and “Black fellow” still live in two different worlds in Australia, although some bridges are being built. Well, understand, I’m talking country-wide. Oodnadatta itself is a pretty laid back place and everybody gets on well together! So for my short stay, I just enjoyed the best of both worlds. I had a place to stay, a shower, laundry, and even contacts to visit in other communities on my way North. You can’t judge what you don’t know about or understand, so I just stuck to what I had in front of me, and doesn’t matter the color, everybody black, white or in between, thought I was a bit crazy to cross the bumpy desert on a bicycle!
Anyway, I stayed and had a wonderful night, sharing a birthday party from one of the roadhouse staff in Oodnadatta’s desert pub! A few beers to get me started properly the next day!
After saying goodbye and refilling all my water bottles, I was back on the track, clean and rested. The road from Oodnadatta to Coober Pedy, the Kempe road, is mostly very smooth and doesn’t remotely compare to what I had on the track. But after some 60km, there was a turnoff to the “Painted Desert” a plain of colored sandstone hills, so of course I had to go! And back to some slippery sands and dodgy corrugations! But it was without regret as I enjoyed beautiful scenery and had my last night out in the desert under the beautiful new moon (= no moon 🙂 ) sky.
For my last day, as I got back to the Kempe road, I stopped at Mount Barry homestead (a cattle farm), just to say hi, because it was on the way. I ended up staying 4 hours with the family, filling myself with tea, milk, cookies, some lunch, local stories, a local cookbook and country music!
I planned my trip so that I wouldn’t have to rely on anyone. Carry enough food, water, and equipment to be self-sufficient. It allows me to not expect anything from the people I come across, and when I get any kind of support, it’s always such a wonderful bonus! All it does is making me want to give it all back. By going to people I don’t know, I realize that our world is not only a hostile place, there are good things to enjoy and most people are actually pretty friendly and happy to meet and talk!
Both at Oodnadatta and Mount Barry, I got advised to go to “John’s Pizza Bar” in Coober Pedy, best pizza in the region, possibly the world, and run by Greek people. So when I finally left and made the final stretch to Coober Pedy, my objective was not the information centre, or the supermarket, or a campgroung, but John’s Pizza Bar! I knew I would find myself there, as they have pizza (and I’m always hungry) and there are some Greek people (and I am one half Greek myself). Once again life put it all together nicely for me as I got there, introduced myself and said i got recommended to come. I enjoyed the tastiest giant pizza and a free bottle of. . . . . . . ICE COLD LEMONADE 🙂 and even got a place to put my tent!
I learned a lot, and I still am. The desert tracks taught me that whatever happens, you must keep going. It’s better to do one step forward, than sit and think you’ll do two tomorrow. If you’re slow, you’re slow, but at least you’re moving. If you’re tired, take a break and things are surprisingly better when you start again. And finally, if you just stop thinking and expecting anything, just go to other people, talk to them, and a lot will come to you. One day someone will come to you, and you can complete the circle and give it all back!
The ride goes on!