The opal mining town of Coober Pedy lies in inhospitable land in the outback of South Australia
. Many of the town's inhabitants live underground - indeed, the town's name means "white man's hole in the ground" in the local Aboriginal language. Underground, the temperature remains pleasant all year round, while above ground, summer temperatures can exceed 45 degrees Celsius.
In Coober Pedy, you can stay in an underground motel, attend an underground church, visit an underground shopping complex or even an underground pottery.
Tours of the opal fields and underground mines are available and visitors are encouraged to take a tour as the opal fields can be treacherous. Big Winch Lookout provides a vantage point over the opal fields with their pockmarked appearance, as well as being an art and craft gallery featuring... what else but opals!
In the area, visit The Breakaways, a strange landscape which features coloured rocks which change their appearence depending on the angle of the sun.
: Opal Festival (Easter), Glendi Festival ( June), Horse Races (September)
Things to do
Old Timers Mine - a mine museum with interpretive centre and self-guided walks
Umoona - underground museum and mine
Underground Churches - St Peters, St Pauls and the Catacomb Church
Tours - Guided tours of the town
The Big Winch - get the best view of town from here
Visitor Information Centre - Council offices, Hutchison Street, Coober Pedy
In the area
Opal Fields - the surrounding area is pitted with diggings so visitors should be aware of mine shafts. It is advisable to join a tour as trespassers on claims can be heavily fined.
Opal Quest Mine - tours and underground pottery
Painted Desert - richly coloured landscape known for its fauna and flora
Coober Pedy is in the Flinders Ranges and Outback region of South Australia.
Photo courtesy South Australia Tourism