A trip to Coober Pedy promises it all; a location unlike any other, adventure, precious stones and interesting stories from the thousands of fascinating locals that have come from 45 different nations to call this place home. Located in the centre of the outback 685km from Alice Springs and 846km from Adelaide, it is one of the few locations in the world where the question of extreme exposure and a harsh climate has been answered by building accommodation underground. With over seventy opal fields and the largest opal mining area in the world, Coober Pedy has become the world’s most important source of quality gem opal.
Visitors to the town also have the exciting opportunity to experience the cool and quiet of a stay underground, with hotels like the Comfort Inn Coober Pedy providing rooms in a fully converted former opal mine shaft that was used from the 1910s until the 1960s. The Comfort Inn Coober Pedy is the perfect choice for travellers wanting to experience the unique lifestyle of local residents in comfort. Nowhere else can you see opal embedded into the walls of a former working mine or examine the old shafts where miners lowered themselves below the ground.
Originally called Stuart Range Opal Field after John McDouall Stuart, the first explorer in the area, the town was later named Coober Pedy around 1915. After World War I a number of construction workers and soldiers came to work in the opal mines. Finding the conditions harsh the workers started living underground in ‘dugouts’ to protect themselves from the elements. The tradition continues today with most locals living in dugouts; mineshafts dug into the earth that maintain a more stable temperature than buildings on the surface.
There are many things to do around the town. You could book into a fascinating day tour of the Desert Golf Course or go on a desert star gazing tour after the heat of the day has died off. Visit the mineshafts or take in other historic sites like the Underground Art Gallery, underground church or the Old Timers Mine or Umoona Opal Mine. It is even possible to try a little fossicking!
2015 will be the centenary of the establishment of the town. To celebrate, local planners have designed a calendar full of novel and traditional events, including the Coober Pedy Opal Festival on 4th March and the Coober Pedy Gem Trade Show on 4th and 5th April. Other events to note include the Great Breakaways Marathon and the Coober Pedy Races & Gymkhana as well as other events being held especially for the centenary including the Centenary Launch, Centenary Street Party & Multicultural Festival, 100 Year Ball, Welcome Back to Coober Pedy and Mosaic Centennial Garden.
Cooper Pedy is a guaranteed mix of adventure, beauty and the inventiveness of humanity found in the most unlikely of places.