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Stay Underground in Coober Pedy

Updated on October 20, 2007
Coober Pedy
Coober Pedy

You've probably never heard of Coober Pedy, but that doesn't mean it's not a destination you should consider if you're looking for something out of the ordinary. It's not glamorous or all that thrilling perhaps. The best word for the Australian town of Coober Pedy is "unique".

Why is it special?

Well, more than three quarters of the 4,000 residents of Coober Pedy live underground, in homes carved out of the rock. That's right. Almost the entire town lives in a cave. Before you start thinking about Fred Flintstone, you should know that even though the homes are underground, they can be very up-to-date with their décor and amenities.

The reason for the underground living quarters, is the temperature. During the summer, it can get as hot as 50 degrees Celsius (that's about 122F). Staying underground helps keep everyone quite a bit cooler. In fact, a typical Coober Pedy home stays at a reasonably comfortable temperature (25C) without any air conditioning.

The name Coober Pedy comes from the Aboriginal words for "white man in a hole", more or less.

What is there to see?

While it may be dusty and a little sparse, you will find plenty to see in Coober Pedy. The population is very diverse, and you can enjoy restaurants from many cultures. They are particularly well-known for their Greek food. There are opal mining operations throughout the area, as well as a number of underground buildings to explore, such as the Underground Catacomb Anglican Church. There are a variety of gift shops with opal jewellery, pottery and photographs for sale. Oh, and you can play a round of golf at a completely grass-less golf course.

Where is it?

Coober Pedy is an opal mining town just over 800 km north of the major city of Adelaide in southern Australia. Basically, the town is in the middle of nowhere. Though you will likely come through Coober Pedy if you are taking the Stuart Highway from Adelade on the way to Uluru (also known as Ayer's Rock). There are local flights between Adelaide and Coober Pedy as well as regular Greyhound bus coaches as well.

Coober Pedy Experience Hotel
Coober Pedy Experience Hotel

Accommodations

Besides the few sites in the area, the thing that most people come to Coober Pedy for is the chance to spend the night underground in a cave. Don't be surprised to find modern facilities and rooms that look very similar to regular hotel rooms. One higher-end hotel is the Desert Cave Hotel, with single rooms starting at $200 per night. They offer various packages and local tours as well.

The Coober Pedy Experience Motel is another choice, starting at $160 for a single room. It used to be an active opal mine, until the 1960s.

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    • Terri Paajanen profile imageAUTHOR

      Terri Wilson 

      10 years ago from someplace in Canada

      I consider myself corrected. I'll rephrase that part of the article :) I'm really pleased to get some insight from a local.

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      10 years ago from New Zealand

      Having just come from Birdsville via the Birdsville and Oodinatta tracks we found CP to be quite big a metroplitan- 2 supermarkets and as I said above restarunts! We spent 3 days and enjoyed it!

    • profile image

      Trevor Berry  

      10 years ago

      A shame about your comment not a lot to see tourist wise, I run a Tourist attraction called the Old Timers Mine and gives a very good insight in to the History of Coober Pedy with an opal mine, Underground Home and museum, You get to see modern machines working.

      Apart from my establishments there is off course the great eateries such as the suggested Tom and Mary's but also Chinese, Clubs, Sporting clubs, Plenty of town tours that show a great diverse of the great culture of this town, views of the opal fields and opal. You will see so0me of the best opal in the world from this amazing town.

      Coober Pedy is a place that 3 days could be spent here, you need to meet the locals and get an insight in to this very friendly town.

      Trevor

    • Terri Paajanen profile imageAUTHOR

      Terri Wilson 

      10 years ago from someplace in Canada

      I read about the cultural diversity at Coober Pedy. Who'd have thought? :)

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      10 years ago from New Zealand

      Its an amazing place - and surprisingly has an excellent greek restaraunt full of local greek speaking citizens- such a nice change from burgers at the put outback food!

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