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Published February 28th 2015
Old Timers Mine Coober Pedy
The Old Timers Mine Coober Pedy is one of those places you just have to visit if you are in the area. I have always been fascinated by Coober Pedy ever since a primary school friend moved there many years ago, when his father decided that mining for opal was going to help them find their fortune. This was in the mid 1970's and well, the old timers around the town will tell you that only the lucky get really rich, but then this is just one of those passtimes that gets under your skin.
You will find Coober Pedy 2184 kms south of Darwin or 845 kms north of Adelaide. You cannot miss it if you are on an adventure driving straight down or up through the centre or down the track as Territorians would call it.
There is quite a bit of tourist activity to undertake here if you are interested however the Old Timers Mine has to be one of the best. Acclaimed to be the one of the oldest mines in the region, the Old Timers Mine is an award winning tourist attraction which cannot be missed. Voted South Australia's best Tourist Attraction in 2011, the list of awards for this great point of interest is long.
The original mine was first started in 1916 but hidden and abandoned shortly thereafter. It was not rediscovered until 1968 and opened as a tourist attraction in 1987. When you first enter the mine you cannot help but notice how cool it is in comparison to the heat outside. Let's face it, this is harsh country and the temperatures can be extreme, but it is beautifully cool underground and it is easy to understand why people would live this way.
You find your way through the mine on a self guided mine tour with a guide which is available in many languages. While some of the smaller spaces can be a little claustrophobic, it is fascinating wandering through the mine and discovering the different alleyways, nooks and crannies. There are signs and displays everywhere providing interesting information and a fascinating history of the mine. You will even see seams of opal which have been left insitu in the mine walls.
There are many displays; you will get to see bedrooms, kitchen and living areas all set up with retro furniture which provide realistic representation of life underground from the 1920's to the 1990's.
There are demonstrations throughout the day on the operation of opal mining machinery and you can even noddle through left over mullock heaps to see if you can find your own piece of opal. The demonstration of the blower and tunnelling machine is fascinating and you are able to see and feel the power of this machine as its rips a handful of dirt from your hands; but please heed the safety warnings!