Darwin or bust - a short drive up the road travel blog

Unique warning sign

Stunning underground Serbian Orthodox Church

Coober Pedy - not very green

Anyone for golf?

The other-worldly opal mines

Dugout motel room is a constant temperature - summer and winter

Dugout living

The Breakaways

The 5300 km Dingo Fence

The Oodnadatta Track

Two locals catching some afternoon sun


Driving into Coober Pedy you could be excused for thinking "are we still on Earth" as this place truly has to be be seen to be believed.The treeless landscape is covered in small conical hills. It is a fairly inhospitable environment with hardly any rainfall. No wonder movies like Mad Max III, Pitch Black and Red Planet were filmed here. Many of the inhabitants live underground in caves which are either abandoned mines or homes dug specifically to live in. Coober Pedy actually means "White Man in a hole" in the local Aboriginal dialect. Whilst summer can get as hot as 50 degrees and winter can be below freezing, it remains a constant 22c below ground.

I kept expecting to see a young Luke Skywalker come out of one of the dugouts.

This place purely exists because of the opals and together with Andamooka and Mintabie, Coober Pedy produces 85% of the world's opal supply.

It has a population of 2500 with approximately 60% having European heritage, there are over 45 nationalities represented here. The shops we visited had predominately people of Greek heritage, some with impenetrable Greek accents.

We stayed two nights and had the best night's sleep as the underground rooms have a constant temperature of 22 degrees, are quiet and completely black - no windows.

During the day we visited the 18 hole golf course which is listed as one of the ten most unusual courses in the world. Not a blade of grass to be seen. We also did some noodling for opals in the discarded mullock piles in town. We were amazed by the peaceful underground churches especially the stunning Serbian Orthodox Church.

We drove out to the Breakaways which are very colourful hills which have broken away from the Stuart Range by erosion over the eons. Part of the 5300km dingo fence which crosses three States runs nearby.

Surprisingly Coober Pedy had nice tasting water from a very expensive desalination plant, which was the third attempt to give the town a reliable water supply. Many of the places we have stayed at have had dreadful bore water from deep underground. The soap lathered for the first time in a while.



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