Sep 27 to 29 We cross the Northern Territory border into South Australia with our first stop in Coober Pedy. Where to start when describing Coober Pedy ? Lets try some adjectives first – quirky, strange, weird, dry (they have 2 seasons here – dry, dry and hot), fun, unique and, of course, underground.
Coober Pedy is a town in northern South Australia, 846 kilometres north of Adelaide on the Stuart Highway. Its population is 1,695 (953 males, 742 females, including 275 indigenous Australians). The town is sometimes referred to as the “opal capital of the world” because of the quantity of precious opals that are mined there. Coober Pedy is renowned for its below-ground residences, called “dugouts”, which are built due to the scorching daytime heat. The name “Coober Pedy” comes from the local Aboriginal term kupa-piti, which means “white man’s hole”.
Opal was found in Coober Pedy on 1 February 1915; since then the town has been supplying most of the world’s gem-quality opal. Coober Pedy today relies as much on tourism as the opal mining industry to provide the community with employment and sustainability. Coober Pedy has over 70 opal fields and is the largest opal mining area in the world.
Water is so scarce here that they have water bowsers that look like fuel pumps (see picture). it costs 40 cents for 40 litres.
There are over 1,000,000 holes dug into the ground. There are many underground houses, churches, shops, hotels, bars, etc. People live underground because of the consistent temperature there – 22 to 25 degs, all year round, when the outside temperature can reach the low 50’s C. We even had dinner in an underground restaurant.