Thursday, April 28, 2011

Adelaide Family Trip - Day 8 (Beaches, Peaches and Mines)

The start of our second week of this trip saw us venturing down to the beach at Moonta Bay in the morning for a few hours to do absolutely nothing. Blue sky, still water, cloudless (well mostly). It was brilliant. I wish I could say I had photos of the beach, but I couldn't be bothered with a camera. Hoping to have a repeat dose tomorrow.

In the afternoon we visited the Wheal Hughes Mine, a copper mine that had only shut down operations in the last 15 years. Copper has been a very important part of the economy of, not only the Moonta region, but of South Australia. At one stage South Australia had the largest copper smelting operations in the world, outside of Wales. And copper is still a significant dollar earner for the South Australian economy with BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam mine, located in Roxby Downs, about 570 km northwest of Adelaide, containing the world's fourth largest known deposit of copper (as well as significant amounts of gold, silver and uranium).

Focussing back on Moonta, and at one stage in the late 1800's more than 1750 men and boys worked as miners for the various mining companies located in and around Monta. As mentioned yesterday the old mining cottages form a significant part of the "old Moonta".

The Wheal Hughes Mine (Wheal is an old word from Cornwall meaning mine) has been operating as a tourist attraction for the last few years, and has won many awards as an attraction. Now this is not some sort of fake or faux attraction. People had worked this mine in the past and thousands of tonnes of ore had been moved to get at a significant amount of cooper. What has been left behind is a large hole, going down more than 150 metres (tourist only get to go down to a level of 55 metres) and this hole is located at the bottom of a much larger pit.

With it being a real mine, real safety equipment was provided for all tourists, including mining hat and lamp as well as an identifcation tag for each person.
Nick and Ben posing in their miner's hats
Our tour guide was a crusty, old Scottish miner called Jock, and I think the tour was made twice as entertaining and twice as imformative because of him. He certainly was able to explain complex mining operations in laymans terms, and related well to the kids in the tour.
A group photo of the tour outside the entrance to the mine.
The tour itself lasted for a bit over an hour and a half. If you ever find your way to Moonta I would strongly recommend taking the tour.  For me, I think it is important to know where your raw materials come from - not only food, but metals, minerals, energy, wood products.  Where I have an opportunity to see something like this on a holiday, I will generally go for it. It is also good educational material for the boys (even if sometimes their interest wanes).

The final bit of today's blog concerns something of absolutely no matter, but thought it interesting nonetheless. And it concerns having a "theme song" for your trip.

 I have only had one of these before in all my trips, and that was when I was in Year 11 and we had a trip to Central Australia - up by bus and back by plane. Now this was in 1987, and the eighties were a decade of weird humorous sings that made the charts. Songs like McRawhide by The Chaps in 1983 and  I Eat Cannibals by Toto (or Total, in USA) Coelo in 1982 were quite big on the charts, and yes, I owned both singles. And in 1987, this song came out by a group called The Firm:

Now to be honest I am not sure how it came about, as I think the coach captain (bus driver) almost forced this to become "our song". I think I heard it over 2 dozen times whist on that bus, but it seemed to become our official song. I cannot hear this song without thinking back to the Central Australia trip.

I mention this as I think we have adopted one, and I blame the karaoke session that the band had on Saturday night for this. And it wasn't even song by one of us. Does anyone remember this song by The Presidents of the United States (and why would you choose this as a karaoke song)?

This song was released in 1996 and was nominated for a Grammy award.

For those of you who didn't catch the profound lyrics being sung, here they are in written form:
Moving to the country
Going to eat a lot of peaches
Moving to the country
Going to eat me a lot of peaches
Moving to the country
Going to eat a lot of peaches
Moving to the country
Going to eat a lot of peaches

Peaches come from a can
They were put there by a man
In a factory downtown
If I had my little way
I'd eat peaches every day
Sun-soaking bulges in the shade

Taking little naps where the roots all twist
Squished a rotten peach in my fist
And dreamed about you, woman
I poked my finger down inside
Make a little room for it to hide
Nature's candy in my hand or can or a pie

Millions of peaches, peaches for me
Millions of peaches, peaches for free

Look out!
Flashback to Sunday morning. My brain is acting a little slow due to lack of sleep and maybe also being a bit hung over. Ben is eating peaches for breakfast and I start singing the song. The family looks at me like I'm an idiot so I show them a Youtube clip of the song. It has now become the official song for this trip. And Ben eats peaches every day.

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