Outback Australia – Land of Challenges and Opals
Though the Outback may look like vast barren desert, it’s not always dry out west. In fact, in a good season, Lightning Ridge can be very wet and muddy. There’s a saying that goes this way, “Stick to the black soil in the dry season and it’ll stick to you in the wet.” As it stands, at this time of writing 2011 we have had the largest floods in recorded history. At present a lot of the opal fields are full of water.
No truer words have been spoken. Black soil makes a dusty but quite smooth road when it’s dry, but is nearly impossible to travel when it’s wet. It slips worse than snow.
There is a beautiful highway that links the continent right through the middle. Some sections are so long and straight, you could read a book while driving–this practice is not recommended, however.
Opal gems are not the only colors in Outback Australia Go to opal shop here
A mixture of dust and Outback climate produce some unbelievable sunsets. The evening sky blazes with warm colours, often highlighted by bands of deeper hues. Where the sky meets the ground, the stark silhouettes of individual trees, shrubs, boulders, and isolated dwellings stand out against the backdrop of colour.
One miner at Yowah has compiled a photographic book of these sunsets, each of which is unique.
Winter nights are magnificent in the Outback Australia. There’s always plenty of mulga wood to burn. You have to experience a campfire in the outback on a chilly evening, with the Milky Way spread out before you, to know what I mean by “out of this world.” A few friends around a campfire just caps it off, especially if someone is playing the guitar accompanied by a mouth organ harmonica), and lots of bush yarns (stories).
Even the mundane experience of visiting an outdoor toilet at night can be awe-inspiring. Looking up at the sky from your roofless outhouse, you ponder how long it takes to get from one end of the Milky Way to the other. The astronomers say it would take 100,000 years travelling at the speed of light.Add to this, the intrique of finding an opal and you have the perfect situation.
The Yowah Opal Mines – Outback Australia
The night sky in Yowah is impressive, but the view is marred somewhat by light pollution from encroaching civilization. The further west you go, the less the view is disrupted by man-made light. Yes, it’s true that in the Outback at night, you feel as though Nature has provided you with a splendid tent, a deep blue canopy speckled with twinkling stars.
Speaking of the winter nights, they’re often freezing cold providing a stark contrast to the glorious days. A piping hot borebath can take the chill off. These naturally hot spring-fed ponds provide welcome relief from the cold air. You change into togs, freeze your way to the pool, then experience a magic moment as you sink into the steaming water.
But you don’t have to wait until the sun goes down to enjoy the soothing waters. A borebath also provides excellent relief from muscle aches and pains after a hard day of mining. The photo shows me and my wife, Renate, enjoying a soothing borebath with our aboriginal friend Estelle. Keep in mind though, that the main reason the opal miners live out here is for this.
Some of the creature comforts way out west of Winton in the Boulder Opal field, Outback Australia visit my friend Mike here for the experience of a lifetime