Coober Pedy is a small town in northern South Australia famous for its opal mining, and is a fascinating stop on the road trip through the red centre. Before visiting I’d heard all about this ‘underground town’ and was so excited to see a whole town built underground, expecting a barren wasteland overground. In reality, it’s not quite like it sounds. The buildings are less so underground and more dug out from the sides of the limestone, and the town has plenty of regular overground buildings too. However, the way the town has developed with lots of buildings blasted out of the limestone is truly fascinating and makes it a very worthwhile place to visit.
We wanted to get the underground living experience, and on our first night opted to stay at Radeka’s backpackers hostel. Honestly, it was pretty average and not worth the money for us when we could have camped for less. Nothing wrong with the hostel itself, but it just wasn’t impressive and didn’t live up to my expectations of underground living. So, on the following night Adam decided to treat us to a more extravagant experience and booked us a night in the Dug Out BnB. This was an absolutely beautiful home set back from the town. The owner had completely built the home from scratch and it was really interesting to hear all about it as we checked in – I’d highly recommend this as a place to stay in the area.
With plenty to do despite its small size, we spent around two days exploring and still didn’t manage to see it all. There’s some great free view points you can visit, and I’d recommend taking time to look at the Big Winch, Beetle Car, Spaceship as well as visiting the various underground churches which are typically entry by donation.
In terms of Museums, we opted to visit the Old Timer’s Mine museum and went on a self guided tour through the labyrinth of old mining tunnels and the 1920s style dug out home. It was really enjoyable navigating through the tunnels and learning all about the history, and I’d really recommend this as a museum worth visiting. We also headed to the Umoona museum, which was more information heavy – interesting, but a less exciting experience as you really had to focus on reading lots of information.
On a whim we also stopped off at a shop that had a sign outside saying ‘kangaroo feeding’ – and we loved it! They had rescue joeys that they cared for and hand fed by the bottle and regularly had new ones coming in. It was very interesting hearing about how they care for these orphaned animals and we also got a chance to feed some of the more grown up ones.
Finally, we chose to eat out once at John’s Pizza place. This restaurant has (at the time of writing), has remarkably gained spot #2 on the list of best pizza restaurants in the whole of Australia on TripAdvisor! I would describe the pizza as okay at best, so I have no idea how it’s managed to gain such good reviews. I honestly wouldn’t recommend it, and even months later I’m still bewildered as to why it’s got such rave reviews – from ambience, to staff to the food itself, there’s just nothing noteworthy about it!
That’s all for Coober Pedy, it was a really great town to stop and one of the highlights of the red centre. Next post will be all about Uluru (Ayers Rock), Ogles and Kings Canyon.