Coober Pedy | A Curious Town
The lowdown on underground living
Nothing but dust, heat, flies and more dust. No water, scarcely anything green to rest your eyes from the orange and ochre of a stony, treeless desert.
It gets to 52 degrees Celsius, 126 Fahrenheit, in Summer and it's always cold at night.
Out here, in the middle of South Australia's barren Outback desert where a few thousand people burrow underground to survive, is one of the most unusual holiday destinations in the world. Welcome to Coober Pedy!.
Nothing for Miles
What does the name mean?
The Aboriginal People called this place Kupa Piti which means White Man in a Hole and it describes Coober Pedy exactly!
Get Really Down Under - Six Metres Underground
People live underground in Coober Pedy. They have to.
If the idea of living in a cave seems unappealing to you, the houses here are cut into the hillside and not quite what you imagine a cave to be. Some of the subterranean homes are just stunning.
Cathedral ceilings are no problem and, if you need another room, you just dig one out. There's always the chance of digging out some opal while you're about it.
Living Underground in Coober Pedy
Swimming pools and 17 room homes
The big boring machines can dig out a four-bedroom home in a day.
The cost is 30-50 percent less than conventional housing, but the real saving comes in energy.
While several air conditioners struggle to cool a normal house to under 30 degrees C (86 F) in summer, Coober Pedy's dugouts remain a comfortable 25 degrees C (77 F) year-round, free of charge.
Subterranean Homes - It's cool down hereClick thumbnail to view full-size
Lovely Livable Homes
Plenty of Comfort Underground
They call them dugouts here, a word which conjures up a dismal picture but the truth is far different.
Merv's Dugout - Take a quick peep in Merv's underground home
So where does a visitor stay?
You can't camp out in the open
There are places to stay in Coober Pedy, from budget backpacker style to very comfortable hotel/motels. Some of the rooms are above ground.
Coober Pedy Accomodation - From Radeeka Downunder
The Jewels of Coober Pedy
The radiant opals
Opal is one of the world's most beautiful and precious gemstones, predominantly found in Australia. It's one of only six types of precious gemstones found on planet earth, sharing prestigious company with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and pearls.
Over 95% of the world's precious opal comes from Australia, and this magnificent jewel is our national gemstone.
There's something extraordinary about Opal. What causes this fantastic chameleon of a thousand colours? Colours in crystal clear translucent blues or greens, in sharp lemon, and dull gold. Colours of warm and deeper pinks to blood red and black. Colours that roll, flicker and shimmer into change as the Opal is moved.
Technically, small spheres from silica gel, arranged in more or less compact structures, dissect and refract the light on its passage through the gemstone. Silicon dioxide (SiO2) in gel form contains millions of tiny pores that can absorb about 40 percent of its weight in moisture.
Silica gel is essentially porous sand. .
Sand it may be, but this memory of an ancient sea transforms the light into all the colours of the rainbow, always new, always different, and always beautiful
The Opal fields of Australia are legendary and Coober Pedy is the Opal capital of the world.
The major finds are remembered mainly in museums nowadays, although flashes of color can still be found in the fields. Instead the town has turned to the motherlode of tourism.
Digging for Opals in Coober Pedy
Precious Opal - A beautiful gemstone
A compact, beautiful, and informative coverage of the fascinating and beautiful opal.
Catch the Ghan to Coober Pedy - One of the Great Train Rides of the World
From the fertile countryside surrounding Adelaide to the rusty hues of the Red Centre, onto the tropical splendour of the Top End, The Ghan is the ultimate journey through the heart of the continent.
Journey to Coober Pedy on the Ghan from Alice Springs to Manguri, transfers from the Ghan to Coober Pedy, 2 nights at The Desert Cave Hotel, breakfast daily, and tours to the Painted Desert and working Opal Mines. Board the Ghan at Alice Springs
Getting around in the Outback - The Lonely Planet Guide
This particular Guide isn't aimed at the high end tourist, but the middle of the road traveler, like myself, and just perfect for the adventurer.
It's a wonderfully detailed resource. Don't go anywhere remote without picking up the Lonely Planet Guide first.
Where is it exactly? - Look up Coober Pedy on the map
Fly or Drive to Coober Pedy
Come to Coober Pedy in 2015
- Countdown to 2015!
Start planning your next big trip! Come to the South Australian Outback and help celebrate Coober Pedy turning 100
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How about you?
Hve you ever been to Coober Pedy?
All comments are appreciated. You don't have to live in a hole to add yours