Saturday, 25 July 2015

The Breakaways - The Ghan Adventure continued

Australian Dog Fence
One of the very best things about travel is discovering new and amazing places you never knew existed. For me travel is always about finding out what is around the next corner. You could say I'm addicted to it.  And what a surprise was waiting "around the corner" when we left Coober Pedy and drove further out into the desert alongside the famous Australian Dog Fence. Sometimes known as the Dingo Fence, it looks just like an ordinary wire fence but at 5,500 kms long, is also the longest man-made structure in the world. Built in the 1880s to protect ranchers from dingo attacks on their cattle it has proved to be successful despite the many ingenious ways the dingos try to breach it. An Australian icon and a symbol of man's endurance in a harsh environment the Dog Fence has featured in novels, movies and folk legend.
The stunning Breakaways landscape

As interesting as the Dog Fence was that wasn't the thrilling part of this trip, that honour goes to The Breakaways. I had never heard of this spectacular ancient  landscape, an inland sea 70 to 100 million years ago, located 33kms north of Coober Pedy.  Known as Umoona by the Antakirinja Matuntjara Yankunytjatara Aboriginal people, who are the traditional owners and custodians of the
area, it is now a desert landscape which endures very high summer temperatures and very cold nights. The name, The Breakaways, comes from the fact that the series of dramatic flat topped mountains in the area had broken away from the main mountain range many millions of years ago. The mountains range in colour from chalky white to gold to russet and all colours in between. The scenery is nothing short of sensational and I was gob smacked. What an absolutely unexpected thrill and definitely one of those "round the corner" discoveries.

Our coach drove to the top of one of the mountains where we had time to drink in the amazing views and take photograph after photograph. We also had time to drink a glass of bubbly because, much to our delight, a table had been set up, complete with waiter and wine, especially for us. We were all so enthralled by the views that even the pesky, sticky, Aussie flies didn't dampen our spirits.

 Keen movie viewers would recognise the landscape from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Mad Max 3 and Red Planet. This visit to The Breakaways was something really special...a must do if you ever visit Coober Pedy.

Delighted with my "round the corner" discovery

Back at the train we were welcomed with more drinks and finger food set out at lantern lit tables in the red desert landscape. Everyone was on a high as we mixed and mingled and shared our delighted thoughts of the day.  The perfect way to spend the last evening of The Ghan trip.