Travelling to Coober Pedy

I stayed at a little roadhouse/caravan park at the corner of the Lasseter Highway and Stuart Highway. I set up my tent and cooked dinner with music playing from the car. It doesn’t get better than that. I sat with a coffee looking at the stars and just marvelling at this feeling of freedom. I am the only person camping alone, but I am not alone at all, I feel completely at peace.

I discovered I can use the inverter to run my computer from the car battery. I don’t need to start the car up, just plug it in. That is good to know when I need power and am camping.

My sleep was not so great as the wind really picked up. I had not secured the tent that well as the ground was too hard to get all the pegs in. I had the main pegs, but the side ones and guide ropes I didn’t worry about. Well the flapping was pretty noisy. However, it did stay up until the morning. After my shower it was looking lob sided. I noticed a couple of eagles flying overhead.

I packed up everything and headed to the Stuart Highway. I wasn’t sure how far Coober Pedy was. I plugged in the name and found out it was around 540 km. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it but thought I will try.

I headed down the highway and stopped and met some interesting characters. Just before I pulled in at a roadhouse I saw this guy riding a pushbike, layback style, cycling away reading a book. I laughed as I passed him. The only vehicle on the road where the driver can read whilst driving.

Anyway, I pulled in made a sandwich and noticed he was looking at the Oodnadatta track. The Oodnadatta Track passes through a mixture of plains and undulating countryside, skirting at its south eastern end the vast expanse of Lake Eyre. Largely following the route of explorer John McDouall Stuart and, later, the Old Ghan railway, remnants and sidings of which feature prominently on the trip, the track is a natural earth road. It’s generally well maintained, wide and reasonably smooth, however like any outback track its condition can change. Expect corrugations, potholes, loose stones, sand patches and occasional bulldust (refer:

A couple of ladies were standing there admiring him and his bike. We had a chat and they said they had seen a funny sight on the way, someone had made two cows and placed them near a sign warning about cattle. They had big smiles on their faces. The ladies said it made there day.

I remembered as I had driven that I had seen an interesting circle of stones. I’ve travelled to many sacred sites and standing stones come to mind. What I saw was a very large centre stone surrounded by smaller boulders. Interestingly this had been a little graffiti’d, however I looked passed that and wondered. How did those rocks get there? It was in the middle of nowhere, so why would someone do it. It appeared to me a sacred site, yet no sign or recognition. I wondered how many sites were not found or recognised. I took some photos and when I get a good cable internet will upload them. I am sensitive to rocks now having seen Stone Henge, Avebury and Standing Stones in Scotland and Burial Mounds in Ireland surrounded by large stones etc. Even at Uluru and the Olgas, I am feeling something about this I can’t define. So if indeed they were sacred, how did the indigneous think to do this, typically the Celts performed the rituals with stones. Stones are not just stones is my thought. I wondered about the energy they conduct, what they mean and why they are used.

Anyway, back to the guy on the bike. I was very curious about him. So I found out that he was from France. He had travelled the world on a bike. He said he read a book and decided to do it. He worked for a while to pay for it, then he took off. He said he lives cheaply on a bike and sleeps in the bush. He had been travelling for 2 years on this bike. The design was to lay back as you cycle. It looks more comfortable then the cyclists I’d seen with saddle bags. I take my hat off to them all, they are very fit and brave. He said he arrived in Darwin and had travelled down. He was heading to Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney. If you can imagine how vast these distances you would be bowing at his feet. He noted he was getting bored with the flat straight terrain, although it is good for cycling, but after a while he is starting to want more challenges. When I looked at his bag he had been to Libya, Egypt, Turkey etc. I asked him his favourite place, he said Libya. He said the people are really nice. It wouldn’t be a good time to go now, he said. I agreed. We talked a little about politics and the reasons why liberators come into countries, what is the intent? do they do it for the people or are there interests involved? I said to him it is important that we have a world where the people come first, that the intention is compassion. That is the world I see in the future, anyway. He said he would like to encourage people to do what he is doing. Just go out and do it. He seemed so fit and healthy. He said he needed to be alone after Indonesia (last stop), I was guessing the crowds there. He couldn’t have picked a better run from Darwin for solitude. Plenty of it. The vast horizon, the good weather, just magic. I told him he was inspiring in what he was doing, so many people would be afraid to hit the road in this way, and he was living off very little. He just kept expenses low and kept moving. I really admired him. I wished him well and headed for the roadhouse.

I went and grabbed a coffee and ended up chatting with an older woman (60′s) and she confessed to me she rides bikes and had ridden 800km in China with her husband. I was stunned at her age. I love the fact age didn’t limit her. She was in a 55 plus club and very fit. She said she was involved in tours along the Canning stock route. This Canning stock route is in Western Australia and is 1,000km long. She conducts tours with 4WD. She said she had seen a guy on a bike ride it and the corrugations in the road would have knocked him around. I imagined a thorough massage on his bum, you can imagine bump bump bump, wow what people do. I ended up going out to her caravan and meeting her husband. Turns out her daughter is a journalist with ABC. She has also worked for Algezeera. Ronnie (the lady) told me she knew of a rich man who is a philanthropist miner. Apparently he is a billionaire and funds all sorts of projects. She gave me a business card with her daughters number on it. Apparently she interviewed this guy and I may have a contact there. I was thinking of my International Peace and Sustainability Award, then wondered, would he think it was too much (big project). I have no idea how to approach these people. I am passionate but they are in different mindsets to me. I will just follow my heart and contact him at some point through the daughter. Ronnie also invited me to come to her house in Perth when I get there. So I will definitely drop in.

I took off and motored passed them both on the highway, tooting. I drove for a 150km and noticed a sign ‘coffee and cake’, I felt like some cake so stopped. I mozied on in there. Noticed some old tools on the walls used by the locals. I saw a Adelaide newspaper there and noticed some news on a 1.3 billion turbine deal that will power 225,000 homes which equates to a quarter of South Australia’s energy. Here is some information about that…

“A $1.3 BILLION wind farm that could generate a quarter of the state’s power will be built on Yorke Peninsula.

The wind farm, to be located about 20km southwest of Ardrossan, near Pine Point, will generate up to 600 megawatts of electricity a day, which is about 25 per cent of the state’s daily consumption.

It will provide enough power for 225,000 homes a year.

A huge undersea cable will link the wind farm’s 180 turbines with the main power grid in Adelaide.

It is one of the key projects Premier Mike Rann has wanted to lock in before he stands down on October 20.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2015, creating 500 jobs during construction, and will provide 50 ongoing positions over 25 years.

The Suzlon Group, based in India, is developing the wind farm…Suzlon Energy Australia chief executive Dan Hansen said the project, to be known as Ceres and named after a steamship with sails that was built in 1876 for an SA company, had been initiated by Yorke Peninsula farmers and local developers. Suzlon has already installed six wind farms in SA with an installed capacity of 507 megawatts and already employs 92 people here.

“The Ceres project will create local jobs, place the region on the global map as a leader in renewable technology and give peninsula farmers and landowners the opportunity to diversify their income streams,” Mr Hansen said.” Refer

As I am sitting about to take notes, Ronnie and her husband walk in. I smiled and put my notebook away. They asked to sit with me, I said no problem. We had a chat and her husband made a comment about refugees and how they don’t assimilate. I explained to him that it takes a few generations for immigrants/refugees to assimilate. I said imagine if we went to their country and tried to learn their language, learn the culture, it takes time and it is not easy. Older people find it very hard to change. I said I think it is for us to be tolerant, I said a better word is acceptance. I then went onto tell them about my experience clowning in Maribrnong Detention Centre in Melbourne. Another miraculous moment where I decided to create two giant christmas cards. One was for a detention centre, the other was for the UN. I asked people to put up little square notes with comments to people who didn’t have a home. The UN was messages of peace. I had lots of notes of encouragement and love. I then emailed Maribrnong to find out how to spell the name. The lady ended up inviting myself and 2 clowns to come to their christmas party. I asked if I could bring my christmas card, they said yes. So we got the chance to clown with detainees and children. I massaged people, juggled, joked and connected with the people. As a clown they are all the same to me, just people. I had the guards and International Red Cross personnel have a group hug as the detainees were rounded up walking silently back in. I felt for them in a maximum security jail, their crime to escape persecution. In Australia there is debate over off shore processing of asylum seekers. I find it incredible driving through this vast country today, we have plenty of room. Such is politics devoid of compassion. There is no reason why they can’t be assessed onshore and allowed to move freely. They are not criminals, just homeless and traumatised people. I would gladly have them come. If we were in their shoes for one day, attitudes would change. We are just ignorant. In Australia we have a good life and take freedom for granted, we have no idea of the reality in other parts of the world, what it is like to have bombs dropped, or people murdered in front of you or fleeing economic problems or starvation. If we were in need we would want people to take us in. The sad reality in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, they have a custom that they can’t refuse a request for refuge, even if that person killed your family member, the custom is you treat them as a guest. I heard of a case where that actually happened and the person was given shelter. A basic human desire, to help someone in need. Anyway, I told this guy my story and he didn’t challenge it. His wife was nodding and very passionate about refugees, so I guess they have some hot debates. Ronnie and I really connected and probably will see each other in Perth.

We were about to part when I curiously asked about the sign YCWCYODFTRTOTY – I am not sure if I can remember what it meant but the guy behind the bar indicated that we can put a gold coin donation in the box in order to find out. I put in 40 cents and then he said it has to be gold coin donation. I did protest a bit as I didn’t want to be coerced to give money to get an answer. Anyway, the sign roughly said. You can hmmm something like give a gold coin donation to the Flying Doctor blaa blaa, can’t remember. At the time I laughed and thought it very clever. I ended up giving a gold coin impressed by the trickiness of the sign.

I headed off down the road drove for a further few hundred kilometers marvelling at where I was and the vast horizon to horizon distances I am travelling. There are not many vehicles on the road I noted, so I am with myself. I am contemplating peace in myself and peace in the world as I drive and listening to Byron Katie, considering the reality that life is what it is and to allow for it. To not make war with life but to find peace in what shows up. That doesn’t mean you condone violence or unkindness, you just don’t be that violence or unkindness, even when facing it. I am seeing more deeply about my own inner state of being whether I am at peace or not, tense, negative, judging etc. I am examining my thoughts and seeing where I am attached to things. It is in the non attachment that peace resides as well as non judgement. Very important to change thinking to allow a space for life to just simply be. Non resistence I believe the pacifists called it. So as I travel through this peaceful landscape I imagine the mind, as vast and limitless and unlimited in its capacity. Nothing is impossible, life is an opportunity. We are not here to change others, only ourselves. That is my work anyway.

Anyway I get to Coober Pedy. This is opal mining country. I saw many little mines for around a couple of hundred kilometers so I suspect the land is full of opals. Australia supplies around 97% of the worlds opals. I can’t say I liked seeing all the little mounds, not exactly mountains, but I worked on accepting this is an industry and people believe they need to make the money. I drive into the town and made contact with Kat. She is my contact through the clown doctor in Alice Springs. She says that two of her friends are coming this very day and she is unable to accommodate me as she doesn’t know if that is okay with them. She tried to contact them but was unable. I was surprised by that, but didn’t have a judgement. I then went to the Visitors Centre to find a caravan park. Some are underground and there are options to sleep above ground to watch the stars. I was curious. I impulsively decided to ring Kat again and suggest we have a cuppa together. She then tells me she is in Alice Springs. Ah I think, no wonder she was hesitant in my coming. She suggests I go to her place just to look at it. She tells me where the key is (complete stranger nice huh). So my feeling is go there. Even though it is 4.30pm and getting late, my feeling is go. So I go there I turn off at Crocodile Harry’s sign. Then travel 3km on a dirt track. I am told to look for an old blue car and it is the first place. Crocodile Harry’s is the next place. So I park in this amazing place. It is a rock home, mostly underground. They call it a dug out. It is a home dug out of rock. The rock even has glittery quartz in it. Looking at the house from the outside I see a sign that says ‘Welcome to Nowhere’. Given my work on now here, I laugh to myself.

I walk around and see a clay pot oven outside, lots of cactus plants, a little fire place, a courtyard with a exhaust pipe made into a hat stand. The rock work is really nice in the courtyard. The door is interesting with signs on it and bolts across. I find the keys and open up and see a house that is like a cave, with rounded archways, rock floor, shaped and curved with little places for ornaments carved into the wall. There are alcoves for candles and other interesting nic nacks. It was fascinating and you could feel the cooler temperature straight away, perfect for hot climates. There was a kitchen in there and another little lounge with a barrel table and a few steps up to the bedroom where a bed could be unfurled and slept comfortably on. There were cut bottles as little circles (like led lights), you often see with earth ships and a nice cane curtain that allowed light to filter in from outside. It was really beautiful.

I headed over to Crocodile Harry’s place. Turns out it is a museum and he died a few years back. I am met by an 11 year old boy. His name is Sam and he tells me he is sight impaired. However, intellectually he is very smart. I told him so and we struck up a friendship pretty quickly. We talked a bit about life and dreams and to be who you are. He asked me later if I first thought him a girl. I said no, I knew you were a boy, you just have long hair. I explained when I was around 12 someone said I was a boy. So don’t worry you are fine, I said. He told me his dream to use all his brain and walk through walls. He was shy to tell me, but I am open minded and I said to him it is a nice dream. Who is to say you can’t do it, I’ve heard of guru’s who can. We have vibration and perhaps when you lift yours you can walk through a wall. I said work on your spiritual life and see what happens. I also explained emotional intelligence is very important, follow the heart in life. I see this as intelligence I told him. He let me look around the museum. I could see badges, hats, t-shirts with writing to Harry, bras, nickers, flags, pictures of naked women. Sam tells me he doesn’t look at them, I said that is good. Life is not just about naked women. Seems like Crocodile Harry was pretty excited by women. He even showed me a picture of 20 naked women like in a school photo. I just laughed at this guy and his obsession. People had written on the walls, there was a little table and chair with artifacts, animal sculputes, sculls, picture boards, all part of a cave like setting. It was pretty impressive. Sam told me that one of the Mad Max movies was filmed in this place. Mel Gibson played Mad Max in the beginning of his movie career.

I asked Sam if he would like me to teach him juggling. He was hesitant at first and lacked some confidence. However, as I was leaving I said ‘are you sure?’. He hesitated and said he would like to learn. So he followed me to my car and I dug out the balls. At the same time I noticed a car had pulled in behind mine, turns out the friends of Kat had arrived. I hope they were not worried by the house open and the keys left at the front door. So I went looking for them. They walked up a pathway, having been to an old mine. I met Flea and his girlfriend Crystabelle. They were both from Melbourne. They were happy for me to stay, in fact they said they were going to swag under the stars and I could have the house.

We all went back to the house. Flea built a nice outside fire. I made dinner inside and showed Sam my presentation of clowning around the world, I wanted to inspire him. He was very chatty and happy.

Turns out Sam’s parents had separated some months ago and he was sad when he mentioned it. He said he lived between Murray Bridge and Coober Pedy. He loved Coober Pedy although he said the teachers at the school were strange. He mentioned people could be strange here. Crystabelle said the same thing, perhaps it is mining, who knows. It is a desert place and I guess there is nothing other than mining here.

What I liked about Flea was that he was so respectful to Sam. He spoke to him as an equal. As I talked more with Flea I saw a very wise man in front of me. He told me about men over 40 saying they couldn’t change. The concept of finding the feminine is not accepted in mainstream society. He said he saw it as openness, truthfulness, sharing etc. He worked as a labourer on a building site and the men were pretty rough, they don’t talk about feelings. He said after 40 they are either on one side of the fence or the other. He was meaning in touch with feminine or blokey blokes. He said women can also create this by wanting a man to be a man and not cry etc. Although he said some women were progressive. I found his assessment of men very refreshing and told him about Steve Biddulph the Australian psychologist. Flea was a sensitive man, artistic and very articulate. I found him very manly in his courageous conversations, not afraid to say how he felt with a sense of humour I noticed. He told me he had found some land, felt very moved to find land, he found some in Gippsland, he told me it was a rainforest. He couldn’t believe how cheap he got it and all he wants is to live close to nature. He just wants to connect. I made mention of earth changes. He said ‘oh yeah’. He was very conscious that the world is changing and intends to live in nature. I didn’t bother mentioning 2012 as he knew. I have met many who feel moved to find a place to live in the country and become self sufficient. This is not uncommon. His partner was not that aware, but had her own strengths as a teacher. She had decided on impulse to move from Alice Springs to Melbourne and met Flea there. She loved the Northern Territory and found it hard to leave and was tossing up whether she is going to live in a small rainforest. She told me she was aware of the Earth Sanctuary in Alice Springs. She informed me that people thought they were crackpots there. I thought about the discussions on extraterrestrials I had with these people, I see those who poo hoo it as ‘flat earth’ thinkers. Not being disrespectful, but when people bring up issues that are outside the norm, they are labelled and judged. I met these guys at Earth Sanctuary and know they are clear. She hadn’t met these guys but had heard the rumours. I just talked to her about the world and possibilities. There is much we do not know. She appeared open. Lovely girl actually. She told us a riddle, she said – a man and his son have an accident, the father dies and the son is rushed to hospital. He is taken into emergency and the surgeon says ‘I can’t operate on my son’. How is this possible? Well I thought about it confused that the father had died… Sam guessed a few things, we really couldn’t get it. Turns out the surgeon is the mother. I laughed we just assume the surgeon is a man. Powerful thinking huh.

Sam told us some jokes as well and we all chatted happily around the fire with a carpet of stars above us. Sam had to leave us around 10, he wanted to keep in touch, I suggested email. So maybe I hear from him. I gave him a big hug and Flea shook his hand. He went off. I was glad we connected with this boy, Flea made mention of the importance of listening to him and treating him as an equal.

Turns out Flea and I had a mutual friend in Melbourne. How is that we meet in the middle of the desert, Coober Pedy, just happen to turn up at the same time, and the name of Mish is mentioned. Although it had nothing to do with my friend, the name mentioned was a coincidence. I said I knew a Mish in Brunswick, Flea then describes her. He is a good friend also. We chatted about her brilliance as an artist. She is a philosopher and a jester actually. A very interesting woman. She makes her own art mechanically (installation artist), materially, paintings and poetry. She is a true artist living in a warehouse in Brunswick. So we shared stories. I wrote to her tonight to connect them. No coincidences in this life.

Flea and I talked about clowning, he brought up the dark clown. I said I really can’t connect to that. Too many movies out there. I said real clowns just extend love. It is not about being scary, it is just about humour, not taking oneself too seriously and loving people. I said that is the essence of the clown. He spoke of the yin/yang, happy/sad clown. He wanted to know what the black dot of darkness in the white part of yin/yang meant. I said ‘doubt’, I also said it is about duality, love and fear. One moves into the other, we oscillate. I said clowning transcends duality, as you feel love for everyone and everything, time seems to disappear.

I started getting tired and decided to go to bed in the rock house. I said goodnight and went in. Set up my sleeping bag and found myself in pitch black darkness. It was really nice. During the night I got up to go to the outside toilet (a drop pit, mine shaft probably). I looked up at the stars and they were endless, I’ve never seen so many stars. I even saw a shooting star. It was so beautiful. I could see why they opted to sleep under the stars. In fact when I woke up in the morning I had no idea of the time. I saw a little light filtering through and thought it around 6-7am. Turned out it was eleven and the sun was high in the sky. The house was completely disorienting given little light. The guys had left a note and departed earlier. I packed up and hit the road. I typed in to my GPS Port Augusta around 500km away. It was 1.30pm and I didn’t think I’d make it.

On my way I realised that Woomera was on the way. This is an army town set up for testing of short and long range missiles. I decided to stop and will check out the Museum tomorrow. I got a hotel room tonight, getting a bit cold for tenting. I have had a look around the place and had seen some display planes, rockets and other relics from the 1950′s. I am interested to learn of the history.

So with that epic I am off to sleep. With more exciting stories to tell on this amazing journey called life.

Mohandas Gandhi

“Nonviolence is a weapon of the strong”