Wednesday, July 30, 2008

the painted hills

East of Coober Pedy in the middle of barren desert is a recently discovered (2006) area 30 km x 10 km.This section of the Breakaways country takes the form of brilliantly coloured rocky outcrops of large and small hills rising suddenly from the flat surrounding desert. Only 400-500 people have seen them from ground level, there are no roads, no walkways and no camping areas, and hopefully that is how they will remain. The exact location is still a well guarded secret.

It was our mission to see them, which is why we hooked up with the delightful Trevor Wright and his little 4 seater cessna plane. Trev does tours over the desert, as well as transporting mining staff to and from isolated opal mines.

Not being the best flyer in the world, I was a little unnerved by the casualness of the pre-flight check: wipe the windscreen with a dusty rag, check the bag of chocolate muffins is on board, take off.

The views of the hills overcame the fears ( mostly).

Statistics for the area are fairly mind boggling- the cattle station which we flew over a part of is 6.5 million acres ( that is big. Bigger than Belgium big) and before the drought conditions could run 22,000 head of stock. Currently there are approx 700 head of cattle, of which we saw none.

We flew over part of the Dog Fence. At 5400 kilometres, the Dog Fence is one of the longest man-made structures on earth, slicing across the heart of Australia's desert. It stretches from the Great Australian Bight and ends in the foothills of Queensland's Bunya Mountains. It has been built in a bid to keep dingoes away from livestock......dingoes to the west, stock to the east ( when there is enough water to run stock obviously).

We touched down in William Creek 168 km from Coober Pedy, stopped off at Trevor's house for a cuppa, met another pilot and 'Dinner' ( his pet lamb, who was orphaned at the station where he was sheep mustering , and once they had bonded he decided to fly the lamb back home rather than allow it to be knocked on the head).

Fortunately the town with a population of 5 has a pub, so we had a few beers with the visiting policeman before heading back.


Anonymous said...

Stunning scenery, rather you than me, even though the plane looks more modern than I expected, no I was NOT expecting a bi-plane exactly lol.


Anonymous said...

The pic of you next to the plane made me laugh out loud, memories of a similar flight Annette and I took when visiting the Grand Canyon. I didn't sleep a wink the night before due to nerves. My nerves went, replaced by euphoric feeling on seeing awesome scenery, a truly memorable experience captured on the 100+ OK'ish photos taken. Overwhelmed with excitement and awe, I forgot to remove my polarising lens......