We were in Mintabie to visit our friend Gary Jesser who recently retired from a job in Alice Springs and now keeps himself entertained and his wife appropriately jeweled by mining for opal. This weekend we got to know my favorite opal supplier much better, met some amazing people, got to blow some stuff up, had several gin and tonics and had a big bowl of fresh mulberries with ice cream. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Mintabie is a hard place to describe. I’m not sure it’s technically a town even by Australian Outback standards. It has a post office, pub, store, gas station and a school with 19 students. There’s a junk yard, a second hand cloths store, a golf course (without ANY grass), a pistol club and an airstrip. There is a medical clinic but no staff at the moment. The official road ends at the pub the rest of the area is a network of dirt paths, without any road or traffic signs, no house numbers. Gary met us at the store because there’s no way to give directions to his “camp”.
The rutted dirt tracks spread out from the pub. There are no few landmarks and even less signs. One pile of rocks looks a lot like the next and sometimes it’s hard to accurately describe which wrecked and rusted out ute.
There is one sign on the way to Gary’s place but I think it’s more of a social statement than a directional device.
As far as mining “camps” go, Gary’s place is pretty flash. I’m guessing that Gary’s wife may be the reason for all the extra special bits – like flush toilets.
When you mining truck/ute is a World War II vintage Toyota Land Cruiser, tinkering and maintenance are a big part of your day.