Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy, (pronounced Coober Peedy) population 3,500, is a small town in South Australia, 846 kilometers north of Adelaide on the Stuart Highway.

Understand

It is self-described as the "opal capital of the world" and the opals are the only reason why there is a town. Located in the Outback, it is hundreds of kilometers from the nearest settlement. The harsh summer temperatures and the dominant industry mean that most residents live underground, ie in caves bored into the rock of the hills around the town. There are houses and other buildings on the surface but the advantage of being in a cave is that the temperature remains fairly constant. Surface living requires air conditioning.

Get in

By plane

Regional Express operates return flights from Adelaide to Coober Pedy on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The Mon-Fri flights depart at 9.20AM and arrives 11.20AM. Sundays flight departs at 12.20pm and arrives at 14.20pm

By bus

Greyhound Australia operates 365 days a year service to and from Coober Pedy. Adelaide to Coober Pedy - departs 7:45PM arrives 6:15AM. Alice Springs to Coober Pedy - departs 10:30AM arrives 6:30PM.

By car

The Stuart Highway

846 km

The Oodnadatta Track (The Kempe Rd) is a formed sand road linking Coober Pedy to Oodnadatta. Although only days drive (200km), take the precautions for remote area driving. This road has very light traffic. Always carry adequate water.

By train

Coober Pedy can be accessed by rail via the Ghan route from Adelaide to Alice Springs. Transportation from Manguri Siding, 47 km from Coober Pedy, has to be arranged prior to departure from Adelaide or Alice Springs. Departs Adelaide on Sundays & Wednesdays and arrives at Manguri Siding on Mondays & Thursdays. If you are alighting at Manguri, especially in the winter months, make sure you have warm clothing at the train arrives very early in the morning.

Get around

Coober Pedy is small, with most shops on Hutchison St and everything else fairly close by. You can generally walk around town from hotels, as long as you can handle the heat.

Petrol costs around 30c/litre more than on the coast.

See

Some of the interesting attractions in Coober Pedy include:

One of the tours takes you to a mine dump where you can legally fossick for opals among the waste rock.
Interior of Serbian Orthodox Church

There are a number of shops selling opal jewelry and single stones.

The town of Coober Pedy is the setting for the recent film Opal Dream (2005) which tells the story of a young girl and her imaginary friends. The countryside around Coober Pedy has also featured as a backdrop to some movies including Mad Max Beyond The Thunderdome and Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Some of the film props from Mad Max are still to be seen in town.

Do

The Opal mine tour is a great experience for all.


Buy

You can buy opals just about everywhere in Coober Pedy, however don't necessarily expect bargain prices. Sellers are not likely to rip you off but check a few places to be sure of appropriate prices.

A supermarket and bottle shop are in the centre of the main street.

Eat

Many restaurants are located underground. The Opal Inn serves many tourists with unique food.

Drink

There is the Opal Inn, the Desert Cave Hotel, the licensed restaurants and bottle shops next to the both of the supermarkets, including Cellarbrations bottle shop at the IGA Fresh Supermarket.

Note that you are only allowed to buy one bottle of wine per person per day and you will have to provide ID for scanning. Of course, you can buy unlimited beer (or maybe only a case, still a lot more than wine).

Sleep

Connect

Telstra and Optus have mobile phone reception in town, but not Vodafone.

Stay safe

There are many signs in the area warning visitors to avoid falling into an abandoned mineshaft. Never walk backwards.

Go next

You can head north along the Stuart Highway to the Red Centre.

Routes through Coober Pedy

Alice Springs Marla  N  S  Tarcoola Port Augusta
Alice Springs Marla  N                            S  Woomera Port Augusta


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, September 21, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.