In the opal mining outpost of Coober Pedy, half the population lives in underground dugouts to escape high temperatures in summer. It’s a fascinating and friendly place to visit, and a must-do on your Outback holiday.
Only in Coober Pedy will you find a underground hotels, restaurants, bars, an underground church, and a golf course without a blade of grass.
Coober Pedy has some 4000 residents from more than 40 countries. Taking its name from the Aboriginal word “kupa” (uninitiated man or white man) and “piti” (hole), Coober Pedy produces most of the world’s opals. Its opal fields, discovered in 1915 by 14-year-old Willie Hutchison, cover an area of 4,954 square kilometres and consist of 70 individual fields.
Try your luck at “noodling” (fossicking) at various spots around town; get a great insight into the history of Coober Pedy at the Old Timers Mine and Museum or Umoona Opal Mine and Museum, then buy up big at more than 30 shops.
Town tours feature underground homes and opal mines, an art gallery and pottery. There’s also a host of awesome natural landscapes, including the Painted Desert, the Moon Plain and the Breakaways. Incidentally, these great desert locations have attracted film makers from around world, for movies including ‘Fire in the Stone’, ‘Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome’, ‘Ground Zero’, ‘Pitch Black’ and Val Kilmer’s, ‘Red Planet’.
You can tag along with the famous Outback Mail Run to Oodnadatta and William Creek, or join the nightly Star Gazing Tour on the Moon Plain.
Visit over Easter for the annual Coober Pedy Opal Festival (featuring events from the fun to the outrageous), or in October for the Coober Pedy Races.