If you are looking for an amazing outback experience, then you should probably add a visit to Coober Pedy in South Australia to your bucket list. This hidden gem is located in the heart of the Outback and offers visitors a unique and exciting experience. In this blog post, I share what I discovered during my stay, and recommendations for what to see during your time in Coober Pedy.
What is Coober Pedy?
Coober Pedy is a small town located in the north of South Australia. It is best known as the opal mining capital of the world and has been featured in many movies and TV shows. The name ‘Coober Pedy’ comes from the local Aboriginal term ‘kupa-piti’, which means ‘white man’s hole’. This is a reference to the many underground homes and businesses that have been built in the town. This unique form of housing came to be as it is incredibly hot to live above ground in the summer months and digging a hole was cheaper than traditional building materials.
If you are looking for an amazing outback experience, then you need to visit Coober Pedy South Australia. This hidden gem (excuse the pun) is located in the heart of the Outback and offers visitors a unique and exciting experience. There are plenty of things to do in Coober Pedy, so make sure you add it to your travel list! In this blog post, you’ll find 11 of the best things to do in Coober Pedy which I enjoyed during my stay in the region.
Coober Pedy is located about 850 km north of Adelaide and is known as the ‘opal capital of the world’. This is because most of the world’s opals come from Coober Pedy. The town is also unique because many of the buildings are dug into the hillsides to protect residents from the harsh Outback sun.
Things to do in Coober Pedy
There are lots of suggestions below… but the first thing I’d recommend doing when you arrive in town is to make your way to the Community and Visitors Centre. When I walked in I was greeted by a super helpful man who provided me with pages of free guides to local attractions and tips on the best places to visit.
Inside the visitor’s center you’ll find no shortage of pamphlets for local attractions, and information displays to help you get a feel for the place.
You can download a copy of some of their free guides at www.cooberpedy.com
Shop for Opals
As someone who finds it hard to say no to shiny objects, Coober Pedy was full of temptations. And although I’ve never been that much of a fan of opals, once I stared into the gems and witnessed their magical colours I was feeling like I may have misjudged these gems. It took all my willpower to ‘try but not buy’.
You can’t walk three paces without bumping into an opal shop in Coober Pedy. They are everywhere!
My favourite opal shop was Opalios, located on the main shopping strip. The friendly woman who served me indulged my need to try on multiple rings, and despite me not buying anything (sorry!) she gave me a free promotional packet of rocks (apparently there is some opal in there!!)
Many of the buildings in Coober Pedy are dug into the hillsides. These houses are called ‘dugouts’ and they are a must-see when you visit Coober Pedy. You can even stay in one of the dugouts if you want to experience what it’s like to live underground!
If you visit the Visitor Information Center (highly recommended as the first thing to do when you arrive), they will give you a list of all the underground homes and attractions you can visit in town.
The Desert Cave Hotel
If you want to experience sleeping the night underground, you could stay a night at The Desert Cave Hotel. It claims to be the only underground hotel in Coober Pedy. It is a must-see for any visitor to the town. The hotel has all of the amenities you would expect, and it is a great place to stay if you want to experience living underground.
The Kanku-Breakaways are a series of rocky hills that look like they have been broken off from the nearby mountain range. They are located about 25 minutes outside of Coober Pedy’s central township and they make for a great hiking or photography afternoon.
To visit, you’ll need to buy a park’s pass. It cost me $11 (well worth it) and can be purchased at the website of the South Australia Parks and Wildlife Service.
Definitely charge the batteries of your camera before setting out to visit the park – the scenery is breathtaking.
While my photos below don’t do it justice, they will give you some insight into what you’re likely to encounter.
Coober Pedy is located on the edge of the ‘dog fence’. This is a fence that was built to keep dingoes out of agricultural areas. It is the longest fence in the world, and it is definitely worth a visit! Follow the signs when you’re at the Breakaways to locate it.
The Saint Peter and Paul’s underground church is a must-see for any visitor to Coober Pedy. The church was built in the early 1900s and it is a beautiful example of underground architecture.
Tom’s Working Opal Mine
Located along the highway, you’ll find Tom’s Working Opal Mine. Worth stopping for!
For $15 I took a self-guided tour of the mine. In exchange for the fee, you’ll get to rent a hard hat, a UV torch and a map with which to explore the underground working mine. Shining the UV torch along the walls will reveal sparkles of Opal literally everywhere!
Tours are available for a slightly higher price and they also take group bookings – book online on their website.
The Coober Pedy Opal Mines Museum is a great place to learn about the history of opal mining in Coober Pedy. The museum is located in an old underground house, and it is definitely worth a visit!
There’s no shortage of fascinating things in Coober Pedy to point your camera at. Here are some of the weird and wonderful ‘artworks’ I found along my travels.
Coober Pedy is located in a very remote part of Australia, which makes it a great place for stargazing. Weather permitting, you’ll be treated to a stargazer’s delight when you look up at the night’s sky.
If you want a more structured stargazing experience, tours are available.
Where to stay in Coober Pedy
There are plenty of accommodation options in Coober Pedy, from hotels and motels to underground homes! If you want a truly unique experience, then we recommend staying in an underground room at the Desert Cave Hotel. This hotel is built into the side of a hill and offers guests cool temperatures year-round.
If you are on a budget, then there are also many camping and caravan parks in Coober Pedy. Just make sure you bring plenty of water with you, as it can get very hot during the day!
For free camps, check out the WikiCamps app.
I stayed at a free camp just outside of town. It was huge, so if you stay here too you’ll have no problem finding a spot for your van.
Backpacking accommodation is available just off the main street, complete with an underground sleeping experience. For more information visit the Coober Pedy accommodation guide for backpackers.
How to get to Coober Pedy
Coober Pedy is located around 850km north of Adelaide, which is the capital city of South Australia. The best way to get to Coober Pedy is by car (van!), as there is no public transport that goes to the town. The drive from Adelaide takes around 11 hours, so we recommend breaking it up into a few days.
Internet in Coober Pedy
In town, I got full Telstra reception. But as I was camped in the free camp out of town, my internet reception was a little dodgy. Thankfully I carry Starlink with me so had superfast internet in the middle of the desert. Thank you Elon!!
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in Coober Pedy. This hidden gem is a great place to visit if you want to experience the true Australian Outback.
Is Coober Pedy safe?
Coober Pedy is generally a safe place to visit but be smart. It is located in a very remote part of Australia, so it is important to be prepared for all eventualities. Make sure you pack plenty of food and water, as well as a first-aid kit and any medication that you may need. Don’t leave valuables lying around, especially alcohol.
Is Coober Pedy worth visiting?
Yes, Coober Pedy is definitely worth visiting! This hidden gem is a great place to experience the true Australian Outback. So make sure you add it to your travel list!
When is the best time to visit Coober Pedy?
The best time to visit Coober Pedy is between April and October. This is when the weather is cooler and there is less chance of rain. However, Coober Pedy can be visited all year round (if you like extreme heat, that is). Just remember to pack plenty of water if you are visiting during the summer months!
Why do they live underground in Coober Pedy?
Some people live underground in Coober Pedy. This is because it gets extremely hot and living underground is a cheap and effective way to stay cool during the summer months.
Why is Coober Pedy famous?
Coober Pedy is mostly famous for its opals.
How Many days do you need in Coober Pedy?
I’d recommend spending at least three days in Coober Pedy. It’s a small town, but there are lots of things to do. Three days will give you enough time to explore the town and see the sights. If you have more time, then there are plenty of day trips that you can take from Coober Pedy. Just make sure you pack plenty of food and water!