Stuck in the middle with you: Part V

Coober Pedy Sunset Sky

Need a welder in Centralia on Finke Friday? <insert a witty idiom of improbability here> Best settle for a big breakfast and even bigger coffee at the Roadhouse for a rethink. Our host at Riba’s recommended a workshop, but one of their welders had left for Port Augusta, the other for Finke. Strike one. They in turn recommended another workshop on the main drag.

Within minutes the LandCruiser was up on the hoist and your dyed-in-the-wool, back-in-my-day mechanic with perfectly combed hair was swearing at Cecil, his aftermarket sh**[sic], his owners, his mechanics. Everyone and everything in general.

Combined with a couple of calls to our workshop back home he was able to resolve the install of the airbag which wasn’t quite right and may or may not have been made worse on the Anne Beadell. Unfortunately our friendly foul mouthed mechanic could not help with welding the alloy water tank, Strike two. Whilst he suggested the BP may be able to help he counselled that we were likely fresh out of luck given it was Finke Weekend, we gladly paid him for his time and said our farewells.

BP weren’t able to help either but referred us on to the Tyre shop. Strike three and out. We did buy some non-toxic tank putty though.

For any other gamers out there, this was straight out of your Level 1-10 grind in a RPG. Could almost imagine the glowing exclamation marks above their NPC heads. We certainly felt like n00bs, as we were meeting everyone in the Village but gaining so little loot.

Gaming analogy aside, we did not find a welder.


I consoled myself of the situation with a couple of Opals, my first ever. A solid, albeit tiny stone threaded on a waxed cotton thread, as well as a ring. Luckily I appreciate the pale stones, given my penchant for moonstone – my selections weren’t too expensive.

Back at Riba’s, we enjoyed the warmth of the lingering afternoon sunshine reclined in our chairs, sipping another naughty tin of Coke from Reception. This was beginning to taste like a new habit that would have to be kept in check. Perhaps it was the slingshot from east-coast Autumn into the Centralian warmth but the day really felt 50% longer than that of the coast, and the long afternoons dictated a cold and fizzy beverage.

Our South African neighbours had already left, they were headed north and planned to traverse east through Queensland to complete their West-East overlanding of our big island, as deliciously slow and zig-zagged as anyone with fuel and time in equal measure. Our other neighbours, an older couple with their big caravan and bigger TV aerial were settled in, I could smell a perfectly Grandparent standard meal on their stove, something in the vicinity of corned beef and boiled potatoes.

I took advantage of the camp kitchen, using their gas stove and my Snow Peak micro oval camp oven to roast a twin serve loin of  pork. We had a selection of portions all vacuum sealed and frozen by our butcher, I still hadn’t decided on whether to buy our own sealer. I have a hand pump with reusable bags which has worked really well previously; despite months of planning for the trip I had taken the easy way out and put in a phone order from my desk at work and picked it all up, ready for the National Luna fridge and freezer. For the bottom fridge basket I cut a lid out of insulation sheet to help keep the frozen meat, well, frozen.

Sharing the camp kitchen now with some younger camper-vanning couples, it was a different feel to the retirees neighbouring us, and certainly compared to the recluse folks plugged in at the powered end of the campground. We all managed to share the single burner, sink and BBQ with clockwork efficiency. Maybe because none of us added to our salutations with the adjunct questions the older generation always seem to have at the ready. I only hope we’re not too old and dust stained before we manage to converse with strangers with such ease.

One couple, either vegan or frugal diners were cooking their lentils and vegetables in an actual electric pressure cooker. This smelled amazing and I will admit, I would have offered to wash everyones dishes for spoonful.  Not having the tenacity to broker such a trade, I settled for our roast pork, which turned out pretty good; crackling, gravy and steamed veggies

After dinner I did some ringing around in Alice Springs for accommodation, as I figured if we were to find help with the LandCruiser we were going to need to stay in town, at least a short while. Plenty of laughter on the other end of the line, given “The Race” was on…. nevertheless I decided we were leaving Coobs’  in the morning but with a sneaky diversion to Uluru and Kata Tjuta to ‘kill time’ over the long weekend. we would figure out accommodation in Alice, when we got there.

Another glorious and quiet night under the moon, tonight switched to high-beam. I can’t say I was in any state of angst over our situation. A sky this vast and intoxicating begged no quarrel with the likes of our concerns.


We recommend Riba’s Underground Campground, all the necessities, impeccably clean without the noise of town. Including free WiFi and showers for $16pp

More photos and information at Riba’s Undergraound Camping

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