Elise Cook
South Australia
Coober PedyExperience the underground world of Coober Pedy, Australia's opal capital. With half the population living underground, it's no surprise the town has given rise to a string of underground hotels, restaurants, and even churches.
It's a fascinating and friendly place to visit, and a must-do on your Outback holiday. Coober Pedy has some 1700 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 over 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 many local underground mines and attractions, then find your very own special opal at one of more than 30 opal shops - many who mine, cut and set their own stones. 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 filmmakers from around world, for movies including 'Fire in the Stone', 'Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome', 'Ground Zero', 'Pitch Black', Val Kilmer's, 'Red Planet', and the up and coming Mortal Kombat (2021 release). Visit late June for the annual Coober Pedy Opal Festival (featuring events from the fun to the outrageous), or in August for the Coober Pedy Races. Coober Pedy is one of the most fascinating, quirky, excentric places on (or under) the earth. So make it a must-do on your bucket list, GET outback, GET underground and just get to Coober Pedy!
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Things to do
Stay in an underground hotel
Desert Cave, the only international underground hotel, allows you to experience dug-out style living. It is the experience of a lifetime. Underground accommodation, shops, cafe, bar, and display areas all within beautiful soft, natural sandstone surrounds. Sleep underground or above if you prefer, enjoy fine dining, splash in the pool, relax in the spa. Stroll in the cool comfort of underground shopping. The Desert Cave is an oasis in the desert. Since 1915 Coober Pedy has exerted a fascination for those who seek the elusive opal, the world's most colourful gemstone. Coober Pedy is known as the underground town, where many locals live in dugouts or underground homes. The earth gives natural temperature control for cool, quiet living in this semi-desert area of Outback South Australia.
Umoona Opal Mine And Museum
Visit Umoona Opal Mine and Museum, Coober Pedy's largest underground and only award-winning tourism attraction. Take a walk through our museum where you will find information on Aboriginal and European settlement in the area. Step back into Australia's ancient past and view fossils from the South Australian Museum. Take our guided tour and experience underground living in our display home, or see what it was like digging for opal in our authentic mine. Watch our multi-award-winning documentary " The Story Of Opal" in our panoramic theatre, then visit our retail showroom with Australia's largest range of exclusive opal jewelry, rough or cut opal (crystal, black, and boulder), and a large range of opalised fossils and specimens. Please refer to the website for tour times and costs. Choose a stone and our in house jeweller will make a special piece of jewellery just for you. All of our opals and jewellery come with 100 per cent international guarantee.
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