Coober Pedy SA - The Easter Opal Festival

Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 00:00


Saturday 15th April 2006
Coober Pedy S.A.

The annual Opal Festival is upon us. The day when the entire population of C/P get out in the street and celebrate….Hmmmm? Don’t actually know what they celebrate but they do anyway. We started the day with a trip up to town and breakfast at “The Breakaways Café” exactly where we had breakfast a year ago. Then it was time for a little shopping at the supermarket, back to the camp, washing and then up the street to see the street parade at 1.00 p.m. There were about three thousand people lining the streets for the event which basically consisted of all the local miners utes with garish paint jobs forming a procession up the street. There was of course the ubiquitous cop-car leading the parade and the obligatory fire engines of the SA CFS distributing lollies and the occasional squirt of water. Then the kids from the local primary school and two busloads of backpackers who thought they’d ride on the trailer of the bus and get in on the action.

There were a few street artists with giant puppets and from our position half way along the street outside the Westpac Bank and half way up the hill, it was amusing to watch all these old, decrepit work utes trying to maintain a close and orderly formation when most had little or no clutch, brakes or other mechanical continuity. Being all work utes, the biggest sign proclaiming “EXPLOSIVES” was prominently displayed above the roof line of every vehicle!

As you could imagine the parade was very short-lived and it was only minutes until the street was empty, the crowd and vehicles having moved off to the recreation oval to the south of town. To protect the only piece of lawn in the whole town, the footy oval is well fenced. For a $5 admission you got to partake in the festivities which included a footrace for the over 60’s, the brass band again, and a few tents selling food and grog. A band from Adelaide is playing this evening and I can here them clearly from the campground (they ain’t half bad either).

The rest of the afternoon was spent preparing the vehicle for tomorrows start on the Anne Beadell. Having the back windscreen taped shut, I’ve had to organise the back so that access to everything of consequence can be achieved through the driver’s side window. This includes the 50 litres of diesel and 8 of unleaded now stored in there for the big trip. Gave me a chance to find and remove that all-pervading glass. It’s gotten everywhere throughout the vehicle. We went to the underground bar at the desert cave hotel complex later in the afternoon for a quiet drink. Finished off with a pizza dinner at Johns again before heading back and getting into bed. Despite the band playing and the crump of fireworks, I was asleep in no time.
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903
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