13 Things to Do in Coober Pedy (South Australia)

Coober Pedy, located in the Australian Outback, is a charming town with a unique charm. It is known for its years of opal mining and its strange, moon-like appearance, which feels like something else.

You guessed it! Opals are the main focus of many popular activities in Coober-Pedy. There’s much more to this town than the famous gemstone.

Nearly half the population has moved underground because of the harsh climate. They want to escape the heat and annoying flies. Underground life is a common way of living.

It was great fun to explore the underground network of buildings and stop by the amazing opal shops. This town is equally impressive above ground.

The Town

Coober-Pedy is known for being the world’s opal capital, with a mining town built on the opal fields. Many movies have featured the opal fields with their unnaturally plain appearance. The underground shops, houses, and hotels are some of the most beloved things in Coober Pedy.

Where is Coober Pedy located?

Coober Pedy can be found in the rugged South Australian Outback region of the northern half of South Australia. It is halfway between Adelaide and Alice Springs on the Stuart Highway.

When is the best time to visit Coober Pedy?

Coober Pedy’s desert climate means that it can get quite hot in summer. It is the best time to visit Coober Pedy, as it avoids the scorching summer heat and dust storms. The evenings are cool and pleasant, and the days are long and warm.

Our April visit saw daily highs of 25°C, but night temperatures dipped to 5-10°C. It was amazing!

How to get to Coober Pedy in South Australia

It takes 9 hours (850 km) to drive from Adelaide and Coober Pedy. It is easy to travel with any vehicle on the road, which is sealed. You can also travel southbound from Alice Springs via the 7-hour (690 km) journey.

However, the fastest way isn’t always the best. Our 4WD Troopy took us to Coober Pedy via a famous Oodnadatta route from Marree and Marla. Although it doesn’t require 4WD, it can cause havoc for caravans and 2WD vehicles.

Things to Do in Coober Pedy

Even if opals aren’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of cool things to do at Coober Pedy. You won’t find it anywhere else, and the attractions are truly unique.

Desert Cave Hotel – Sleep Underground

A stay at an underground hotel is a must-do for anyone visiting Coober Pedy. The Desert Cave Hotel is an underground oasis with no AC or windows. It’s a tranquil and peaceful place to sleep. It’s easy to fall asleep underground if you don’t set the alarm.

This hotel is right in the centre of town and offers both underground and aboveground accommodation.

Old Timers Mine

This opal mine from the early 1900s is a step back in time. It earned Coober Pedy its renowned mining reputation. You can take a self-guided walk around the Old Timers Mine to learn more about the history of this old mine that was so popular with locals. This was our favourite activity in Coober Pedy. We learned so much by spending a few hours in this mine. The underground dwellings can be explored while you learn about the town’s rich mining history.

Take a look at the Breakaways for Sunset.

The Breakaways is a wonderful example of the Outback beauty Australia is famous for. One of our favourite things to do in Coober Pedy is to visit the Kanku–Breakaways Conservation Park after sunset. Arriving at sunset will allow you to see the sandstone tables turn to a deep reddish colour as the stars light up the night sky.

The Aboriginal heritage site of the Breakaways is located 32km north of town. You can pick up a permit ($10) from the visitor centre and take a short road trip around the area. You can enjoy stunning views from the tablelands at two lookouts, including Panorama hill, which you may recognize from Mad Max.

Returning to the town is a journey that follows the famous dog fence. It is a 2-metre tall dingo fence which protects sheep against native dingos. With its mysterious lunar landscape, you’ll quickly discover why the dog fence area is called moon plains.

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