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Coober Pedy

Travel Guide Oceania Australia South Australia Coober Pedy

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Introduction

Coober Pedy welcomes you!

Coober Pedy welcomes you!

© All Rights Reserved Utrecht

Coober Pedy is a town in the South Australian outback, along the main tarred road from Adelaide to Alice Springs, the Stuart Highway. It is most famous for being the "Opal Capital of the World". The town has about 2,000 inhabitants, but thousands of more travellers find their way to this town annually.

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Sights and Activities

  • Mines - It is dangerous to wander among the diggings. You could fall down a shaft or be mistaken for a thief. Miners in Coober Pedy are a secretive lot and suspicious of interlopers. It is much safer to go to a worked out mine that has been opened as a tourist attraction. The owner collects bras and one of the attractions is his collection of bras together with photographs of the donors. Apparently the first bra in the collection was donated by Tina Turner when the mine was used as a set during the filming of Mad Max Beyond The Thunderdome.

One of the tours takes you to a mine dump where you can legally fossick for opals among the waste rock.

  • Graveyard - This is a fascinating site where you will see headstones for a large number of nationalities. The town is a veritable "united nations" and the graves reflect this. One intriguing monument is an empty beer keg which acts as a headstone for a miner who left his fortune to his mates for them to have a drink on him. Unfortunately his debts exceeded his assets. However, his mates saw him off as he wanted and the keg serves as a reminder of the wake and the man.
  • Churches - The Serbian Orthodox Church is bored out of solid rock and its beautifully ornamented interior is a must see. The Catholic Church is not quite as intricate or as large but is still a significant site.
  • The Stars - The night sky in the Outback has to be seen especially on a moonless night. The stars and planets are awe-inspiring. At about 20km from town there is no electric light pollution and you can see by starlight. The constellations and planets appear to move across the sky and if you can get on a tour with a local expert it is a learning experience not to be missed.
  • Other - The first tree ever seen in the town was welded together from scrap iron and sits on a hillside overlooking the town. The golf course is completely free of grass and golfers take a small piece of "turf" around to use for teeing off.

The town of Coober Pedy is the setting for the film Opal Dream (2005) which tells the story of a young girl and her imaginary friends. The countryside around Coober Pedy has also featured as a backdrop to some movies including Mad Max Beyond The Thunderdome and Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Some of the film props from Mad Max are still to be seen in town.

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Weather

Coober Pedy is a dry, sunny and hot place. Summers from late October to early April are warm to extremely hot. Temperatures close to 50 °C have been measured and without the possibility of seeking for shade under trees, it doesn't come as a surprise that many people's homes and even a church are underground! Average highs are mostly around 35 °C during this time and nights are relatively pleasant at 20 °C. Winters are from June to August with a nice 18-21 °C during the day and a rather chilly 6-7 °C at night. Precipitation is just around 150mm a year, quite evenly distributed among the months though winters are just slightly drier.

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Getting There

By Plane

Regional Express flies to Coober Pedy Airport (CPD) from Adelaide.

By Train

The Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin stops in Manguri Siding, 47 kilometres from Coober Pedy. Arrange transfers before arrival if you want to get out here and visit Coober Pedy.

By Car

The Stuart Highway runs just west from town, with direct access from here. Adelaide is about 850 kilometres away, Alice Springs 650 kilometres and it is a massive 2,170 kilometres to Darwin.

By Bus

Greyhound Australia has nightbuses from Adelaide (10,5 hours) and buses during the day from Alice Springs (9 hours).

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Getting Around

By Car

To visit Coober Pedy's hinterland you will definately need a car and preferably a 4wd. Otherwise go on a tour, which are good value.

By Foot and Bike

Coober Pedy is small enough to explore on foot, or by bike if you want to venture to the outskirts of town.

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Eat

Many restaurants are located underground. The Opal Inn serves many tourists with unique food.

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Drink

There is the Opal Inn, the Desert Cave Hotel, the licensed restaurants and bottle shops next to the both of the supermarkets, including Cellarbrations bottle shop at the IGA Fresh Supermarket.

You are only allowed to buy one bottle of wine per person per day to take-away, and you will have to provide ID for scanning. Of course, you can buy unlimited beer (or maybe only a case, still a lot more than wine). You can also drink in the pub with no problem.

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Sleep

  • Mud Hut Motel (Mud Hotel Motel, Coober Pedy), St Nicholas Street, Coober Pedy (On your right as you drive into town from the south.), ☎ +61 8 8672 3003. Made of rammed earth. The motel is small (28 rooms in total). Fast, reliable broadband internet available in most rooms. Dining area and bar. From $100.
  • Radeka Downunder Underground Backpackers & Motel (Radeka Downunder, Coober Pedy), 1 Oliver St, PO Box 808, Coober Pedy, Australia (Located at No.1 Oliver Street on the main street corner between the BP & Mobil Service Stations. When in town look for the Red Digital Time / Temperature Display on top of the Accommodation.), ☎ +61 8 8672 5223. Underground hostel. Internet available. Courtesy pickup from bus or airport. Tour of underground mines can be purchased here and if you stay two nights in private a free stargazing is included if the weather permits it. $32-125.
  • Lookout Cave Motel, McKenzie Close (follow signs off Hutchison St at north end of town). Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Reasonably-priced underground motel, with the bonus of a lookout on the hill above. $125

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafés are very common in the larger Australian cities and popular tourist destinations. However, once you leave the major population centres, you might have trouble finding somewhere to log on. Free wifi is getting more and more common (either with or without a code) in places like restaurants, some bars and coffee places and hotels. Sometimes a fee is required.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

Australia is on a GSM 900/1800 network, so if you have an unlocked phone that works on those frequencies, you will be able to buy a prepaid SIM-card and stick into your phone when you're in Australia. You will receive a new Australian phone number with the SIM-card.

To dial out of Australia use the prefix 0011, followed by the calling code of the country you are trying to reach, followed by the area code of the city/town (without the 0!) and finally the phone number.

Within Australia, it is necessary to add an area code to the phone numbers if you are calling from outside the area. Below are Australia's area codes:

  • 02 - New South Wales & Australian Capital Territory (Sydney, Canberra)
  • 03 - Victoria & Tasmania (Melbourne, Hobart)
  • 07 - Queensland (Brisbane)
  • 08 - Western Australia, South Australia & Northern Territory (Perth, Adelaide, Darwin)

000 is the emergency telephone number in Australia, but the international GSM mobile emergency telephone number 112 also works on mobile phones.

Post

Australia Post is the government's postal service. Most suburbs will have at least one post office. Opening times are mostly from around 8:00 or 9:00am to 5:00pm though larger ones keep longer hours sometimes. A standard letter or postcard sent within Australia will cost $0.60. Internationally, it costs $1.70 to send postcards anywhere in the world. Letters cost $1.85 to send within the Asia Pacific region and $2.60 to anywhere else in the world.[1]. It is also possible to send things as parcels or by express mail. You can also use use private courier companies like TNT, UPS or DHL as they are competitive and reliable.

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References

  1. 1 Australia Post. Sourced 10 May 2013

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This is version 7. Last edited at 12:26 on Jan 16, 18 by Utrecht. 7 articles link to this page.

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