Writer and photographer, driven by travel, unique people and new experiences.
Published June 7th 2012
We are very lucky to live in South Australia with many road trips through stunning scenery beginning right on our doorsteps. One of these great road trips is a trip to one of the world's most unique towns, Coober Pedy. Coober Pedy is the opal mine capital of the world, and one of Australia's most unique tourist attractions filled with history, underground homes and accommodation, and more attractions than you can poke a stick at.
The perfect time of year to go is Easter. You'll have enough time to enjoy the interesting drive there, stay a couple of nights, explore Crocodile Harry's Underground Nest where Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome was filmed; tour Tom's Working Underground Mine, and the Old Timer's Mine and Museum; check out the Painted Desert, the Moon Plain and variety of other anomalies such as the golf course with no green.
Yes, Coober Pedy is an 8 hour drive from Adelaide, but it is far from a boring drive. If you travel at Easter time, you will certainly encounter many of our endangered Wedge Tailed Eagles along the way. I couldn't help myself and had to get out of the car and see how close I could get to these giant creatures.
Wedge Tailed Eagle on the drive to Coober Pedy
Besides our native wildlife, you'll see a lot of beautiful and unique landscape features, including the Flinders Ranges. With the majority of the town built underground to keep cool from the summer heat, take the opportunity to stay at an historic dugout (a hand dug, underground home).
Anne's Dugout Bed and Breakfast (linked below) is a beautiful example of dugout history. Anne will not only cook you a delicious hot breakfast daily, but she'll also be happy to share some stories with you of Coober Pedy's historical past. Anne's Dugout Bed and Breakfast Other accommodation
There are so many attractions in Coober Pedy, you do need a full 2 or 3 days to explore them all. I've listed a 3 of the must do's below:
The Old Timers Mine and Museum This large mine dates back to 1916. A self-guided tour of the mine will show you how miners used to dig deep shafts and tunnels, all by hand and by lamplight. You will also see what life was like living underground from the 1920s, by exploring the many rooms of an old dugout. You will feel as if time had stopped underground and the details of how life was lived are preserved for you to experience.
As a winner of the South Australia Heritage and Cultural tourism award, The Old Timer's Mine is one of Adelaide's top tourist attractions. Click here for the Old Timer's Mine website.
Inside the Old Timer's Mine
Golf This 18 hole course is one of the most unique in the world – there is no green. You're given a piece of turf to carry with you to tee off from. You can play during the day or at night (with glowing balls). Not only is it famous for not having a green, but also for being the only golf club in the world with reciprocal playing rights with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, one of the oldest and most prestigious golf clubs in the world. Click here for the Coober Pedy Golf Club website.
Adults and children $20 each
Phone: (08) 8672 5555
One of the world's most unique golf courses
Crocodile Harry's Underground Nest
Crocodile Harry's dugout is world famous; receiving thousands of visitors while Harry was alive, and still receiving thousand's since he has passed on. He was an eccentric character and created a very colourful and interesting dugout for himself – so unique that the Lonely Planet wrote about it, and it subsequently became one of Europe's top attractions. Partly also due to the fact that Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome was filmed at his home.
Harry became famous (or infamous) and made many friends, who he encouraged to leave their mark on his dugout. His dugout became covered with names and notes, visitors clothing and sculptures – making it one of the most unique places you'll ever visit.
Opening hours: 9am-noon and 2pm-6pm daily
Entry fee: Adults $5, Children $2
Crocodile Harry's dazzling dugout
There is so much more to do Coober Pedy including taking a helicopter flight over Lake Eyre, visit the underground church, the catacombs, the drive in, the space ship from Pitch Black the the Vin Diesel movie, and trawl through so many opals, crystals and minerals to take home with you.
Make the most of the Easter break and take a road trip to Adelaide's top tourist attraction, Coober Pedy.
Thanks Joslin. I am a weekend notes writer too and we'll be heading here in 2 weeks - sounds great. We are staying at the desert cave and I have now popped Crocodile Harrys on my to do list and am off to google the helicopters :-)
Truly, one of the most amazing places in Australia. One must go there once in life and gaze the stars at night. It's utmost tranquility will make you think how life is like in such a remote yet very peaceful places I have ever been to.