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 Mine, Old 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.
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.