Coober Pedy is without a doubt one of the most unique outback destinations in Australia.
Set in a stark arid landscape often compared to Mars, this outback mining town where many people live underground is the source of most of the world’s precious opal production.
Coober Pedy is located about 850 kilometres north of Adelaide in remote outback Australia.
The name Coober Pedy comes from a local indigenous language, Kupa meaning ‘white man’ and Piti meaning ‘hole’, and translates as ‘white fellas hole in the ground’, reflecting the fact that Coober Pedy is the Opal Capital of Australia and the world. It also reflects the fact many residents live in homes excavated underground due to the extreme climatic conditions of the area.
Opal mining commenced in Coober Pedy in 1915 and continues today. In that time the outback town has evolved in to one of the most unique places in Australia and perhaps the world.
A cosmopolitan town of 3,500 inhabitants from over 45 different nationalities, it is today a relaxed and friendly town characterised by cultural tolerance, diversity and acceptance.
Apart from opal production, Coober Pedy is known for its unique style of underground living.
Visitors can find a range of underground accommodation in addition to above ground accommodation for those who prefer it. There are many often luxurious underground homes to explore in addition to underground shops, museums, art galleries and mines.
Coober Pedy enjoys a typical semi-desert climate.
Between April and October the weather is pleasant, with mild daytime temperatures of 16 to 20 C but cold desert nights. From November to March, summer temperatures are hot and range from 35 to 45 C, and occasionally reach as high as 50 C.
No wonder the locals prefer to live in the relative comfort of underground homes! Annual rainfall is unpredictable and minimal at an average of around 175 millimetres.
Opal was first found on the surface at Coober Pedy in 1915, while the New Colorado Prospecting Syndicate consisting of Jim Hutchison, his son William Hutchison, P Winch and M McKenzie were searching unsuccessfully for gold south in the area.