Coober Pedy Holidays & Travel Guide Coober Pedy Holidays & Travel Guide

The Ultimate Travel Guide toCoober Pedy

As anyone who’s ever visited Coober Pedy can attest to, the outback town in South Australia is seriously unique. The official halfway point between Adelaide and Alice Springs, Coober Pedy is best known for its moon-like landscapes, opals (it’s been called the opal capital of the world) and underground hotels and houses (called ‘dugouts’), the result of scorching hot summers with temperatures reaching upwards of 42 degrees. Spend two or three days here learning about its opal-mining history and underground living, touring its old and working opal mines and catching its stunning outback sunsets, cold beer-in-hand. Whatever you choose to do here, you can be guaranteed a trip to Coober Pedy will be like none other – in the best way possible.

Getting to Coober Pedy

There are three ways to get to Coober Pedy. You can fly direct from Adelaide to Coober Pedy Airport, take The Ghan train or drive yourself. It’s a 22-hour drive from Sydney, just under a 17-hour drive from Melbourne, a seven-hour drive from Adelaide and just under a seven-hour drive from Alice Springs. You can also take a bus from Adelaide and Alice Springs to Coober Pedy with Greyhound Australia.

Best time to visit Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy has a desert climate with hot, dry summers and cool, dry winters. January and February are their hottest months with temperatures reaching 42 degrees. July is the coldest month with temperatures dropping to 6 degrees at night. 

Top things to do in Coober Pedy

Opals & Mining

Opals were first discovered in Coober Pedy in the early 1900s and are still mined for in 70 opal fields around the town today. Learn this history and more at Umoona Opal Mine and Museum, housed in an old opal mine from the 1920s. Entry into the museum is free, but for a more in-depth experience, take a ticketed guided tour.  

 

Still want more? Visit Tom’s Working Opal MineOld Timers Mine & Museum or one of the many opal shops in town, many of them offering opal-cutting demonstrations. The town also holds an Opal Festival, featuring stalls, entertainment and a parade.

Underground houses

Tourists aren’t the only ones who can’t bear the heat in Coober Pedy – most of its residents also live underground. Dugouts are below-ground homes where temperatures stay between 19 and 25 degrees year-round. 

 

See for yourself on a tour of Faye’s Historic Underground Home, an underground home hand-dug by three women in the 1960s, complete with a kitchen, fireplace (for winter) and an indoor pool. Old Timers Mine & Museum also has an underground home to tour. And the town also has four underground churches you can view.

Attractions & Activities

Aside from Faye’s, the mining museums and the below-ground churches, Crocodile Harry’s Underground Nest & Dugout is also worth visiting. The one-time home of eccentric former crocodile hunter Captain Harry, the cave’s walls are covered in knick-knacks, tribal graffiti and even – ready for it? – bras. The museum is open daily. 

 

Josephine’s Gallery & Kangaroo Orphanage offers the chance to admire Aboriginal artwork, as well as meet orphaned kangaroos and other wildlife such as wombats, birds and lizards. Want to veg out? Catch a flick at Coober Pedy Drive-In from the comfort of your own car.

 

For an aerial view of the town, visit Big Winch Lookout. A 25-minute-drive from Coober Pedy, Kanku-Breakaway Conservation Park also has a lookout, as well as sights The Breakaways, colourful, low hills, and a two-metre-high Dog Fence.

Best places to stay in Coober Pedy

Underground Hotels

One of the best things to do in Coober Pedy is to stay in an underground hotel. Sculpted from an old opal mine, Comfort Inn Coober Pedy has 16 rooms, a café and an on-site opal shop. Desert Cave Hotel has 19 underground rooms (50 rooms total) as well as a café, restaurant and bar. Coober Pedy Dug Out B&B has one, two and three bedroom apartments, as well as free airport transfers and an included breakfast. And the Lookout Cave Underground Motel boasts 18 rooms – 15 motel rooms and three self-contained apartments. 

 

Want somewhere more private? Book Zen Underground B&B, which sleeps up to eight, or Ali’s Underground, a studio apartment, sleeping up to five. Prefer to stay above ground? Consider centrally-located Mud Hotel Motel.  

Caravan & Holiday Parks

Coober Pedy also has a handful of caravan parks – all of them above ground. They include Big4 Stuart Range Outback ResortRiba’s Underground Camping & Caravan ParkOasis Tourist Park and Opal Inn Motel & Caravan Park

Camping

While all of Coober Pedy’s caravan parks offer camping, Riba’s Underground Camping & Caravan Park is the only park where you can camp underground. Camp for free just outside Hutchison Monument, a 10 minute-drive from Coober Pedy. Note that there are no camping facilities in the area.

Best restaurants & pubs in Coober Pedy

Most of Coober Pedy’s eateries and bars are along main street Hutchison Street. Highlights among them are John’s Pizza Bar & Restaurant, which alongside its pizzas also serves pasta and steaks; Umberto’s, also Italian, located in Desert Cave Hotel; and Outback Bar & Grill, which has a beer garden and daily meal specials.

 

Visit Waffles & Gems for Belgian waffles and to browse local arts and crafts, the bistro at Opal Inn for quick bites and the Big Winch 360 Café Bar for sensational South Australian food and wine with a side of Outback sunset.

Tours and Packages for Coober Pedy

A first-time visitor to Coober Pedy? Drop by Coober Pedy Visitor Information Centre, located in the District Offices on Hutchison Street, for an overview of the town. 

 

For package tours, check out Desert Cave Hotel’s one- to three-night tours. Big4 Coober Pedy Outback Tours organises five-hour day tours covering all the town’s highlights. And Noble Tours Australia does 4WD tours of the town, underground highlights and the Painted Desert, a 2.5-hour drive away.

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