We spent this morning filming a song in the style of ‘Land Down Under’ by Men At Work, about the people who live in underground houses here in Coober Pedy. I’m starting to think that they do it, not to avoid the heat, but to avoid the flies. The Australian Outback fly is the most annoyingly persistent insect I’ve ever encountered. They just will not leave you alone. Most of the crew have now bought head gear to keep them away, but being on camera we just have to put up with them trying to climb up our nose or in our eyes every 10 seconds. Apparently they’re not even that bad this time of year. By February your entire face can be thick with them and you have to wipe them off your sandwich between bites. I don’t care how much money you can earn mining out here – it’s not worth it!
Filmed down an opal mine in the afternoon. No flies down there. Just lots of back breakingly low tunnels. Trevor, who runs Old Timers Mine (which is now a tourist attraction) showed us some incredible fossilised sea shells that were found in a mine near here. They’re 120 million years old, and since they’ve turned into opal they look like they were just pulled out of the sea yesterday.
The fact that most of Australia used to be under the sea explains why the country is so flat, and its soil so poor in quality. It’s pretty hard to make a living from the land out here. Someone was telling me today that there’s a cattle station a few hundred miles from this town. To turn a profit the cattle have to roam on an area the size of Sweden. There’s only one house on it, housing 12 people!