There are several ways to get to there. A bus, train, or plane from Alice Springs or Adelaide will get you close. A van or car will take you the rest of the way to Coober Pedy over dirt roads. We’ll start our tour from here, the tiny Coober Pedy Airport, where on some days only one plane will land.
If you need to make a bathroom stop on the way to Coober Pedy, no problem… rest stops can be found along the roadway.
At first glance, the town of about 3,500 is not much to look at… but there is more than meets the eye!
The summer has harsh temperatures, so most residents live in caves bored into the hillsides, where it is cool in summer and warm in winter. The name ‘Coober Pedy’ comes from the local Aboriginal term kupa piti which means “white man in a hole”.
Most have been sculpted out of the rock. Boring machines can dig a four-bedroom home in a day!
Some homes are quite impressive with as many as twenty rooms. The home above has a pool!
Some stores and other businesses are also underground. gift shops convenience store restaurant
Half of the rooms in The Desert Cave Hotel are underground. Coober Pedy Comfort Inn
Churches are underground, too. Catacomb Angelical Church Coober Pedy Catholic Church
Serbian Orthodox Church Inside, beautiful religious scenes are carved into the rock walls.
Many residents work underground mining opals. Coober Pedy is known for being the opal capital of the world because 70% of the world’s opals are mined there.
These cones in the landscape show where holes have been dug searching for opals. The locals do not want to fill in the thousands of holes mining produces. They think they makes the landscape around Coober Pedy interesting. They post many warning signs around town instead.
No large companies mine there. Since mine permits are for 50 square meters only, small groups or individuals mine the land. types of diggers used by miners Tourists sift through the rock piles for opals. This is called noodling.
The raw opal is cut and polished and used to make beautiful jewelry. Have you ever seen opal jewelry?
There are many stores that sell opals and offer opal cutting. Besides opal mining, the other big industry in Coober Pedy is tourism. There are lots of unique things to see around town.
Different types of tombstones are found there. Coober Pedy’s cemetery is called Boot Hill.
Coober Pedy has a unique golf course. There is no grass. The greens are covered with oil. Players carry a piece of artificial turf with them to set the ball on. When the temperature is too hot, they play at night with glow-in-the-dark golf balls.
The Big Winch is a landmark on the top of a hill that gives visitors a birds-eye-view of the town. Here is Coober Pedy as viewed from the Big Winch, an oversized model of a mining tool.
The Moon Plain, near Coober Pedy, is a vast rock plain and has been the set for many movies including the Mad Max series, and The Amazing Race, a reality TV show.
The Iron Tree is said to have been built by a man so his children could see what a tree looked like since there aren’t any trees in Coober Pedy.
The Australian dingo, or wild dog, is the reason for the 9,600 km long fence. It keeps the dingoes on the north side of the fence from getting to the sheep on the south side.
Coober Pedy Open Air Outback Cinema, or Drive-In, shows four movies a month, every second weekend on Friday and Saturday nights. Horse racing is held once a year in October.
The Coober Pedy Hospital has 20 beds and a staff of three town doctors. It has an emergency room. Since it is so small, many health services are not available daily, but doctors with specialties, such as optometry, podiatry, dentistry, mental health, pediatrics, and health screenings are available once a month.
Australian schools are very much like our schools. They have a preparatory grade like our kindergarten called reception and grades 1 through 12. Coober Pedy’s school has all the grades within the same school. There are 35 teachers and 15 staff members and its 450 students are made up of over 48 different nationalities!
Here is what school children from Coober Pedy have to say about their school. What does our school look like?There’s lots of area around it. It’s dusty becauseCoober Pedy isa miningtown wherepeople minefor opals. It has a lot of buildings. There's not much grass. Some houses, shops and even churches are dug out underground. It's a great place to come. It's easy to ride around on a bike. There are lots of dogs around here, lots of 4-wheel drivers, lots of arts and crafts. You can see underground houses, motels, shops, churches and the opal fields by walking around the town.
What's special about our school?We have lots of sports.We have the Town Library next to the Canteen. We have a big gym and a big room with lots of computers in it. Most buildings are air-conditioned because it gets very hot in Coober Pedy. We do a lot of arts and crafts. We have kids from reception up to year 12. There are 48 different nationalities in Coober Pedy. Our school has a lot of interesting people from different cultures. We have a lot of young teachers and that’s cool. We don't have that many rules. You don't have to wear school uniform. At lunch time we get to swim in the pool. Coober Pedy Area school Can be hot but is always 'cool'. Some people are tough, Life can be rough. It's a place of many cultures. Eagles live here, not vultures. Some folk may live underground. This is where the opal's found.
As the sun sets over the man-made hills of Coober Pedy, our tour comes to an end…
Let’s see how much you remember. Number your paper from 1 to 10. 1 and 2. What are Coober Pedy’s two most important industries? 3. Why are most homes underground? 4, 5, and 6. Name three things to see while visiting Coober Pedy. 7. How is Coober Pedy’s school system like US school systems? 8. What are opals used for? 9. Why are there hills around Coober Pedy? 10. What is the purpose of the dog fence?