There’s plenty to do in the middle of nowhere.
Most Australians will know Coober Pedy as that place where two drag queens and a trans woman ended up staying, only for one of them to torment the locals ― but it’s much more than that. Coober Pedy is a small mining town in South Australia, 850km north of Adelaide. How small? According to the 2016 census, Coober Pedy’s population is only 1,762. But fret not! There’s some cool things to do here, making it a worthwhile place to visit or even do an evening stopover on your way to some other small town.
Stay in an underground hotel
Coober Pedy gets extremely hot during the summer, which is why we recommend visiting anytime outside the season. It could become too hot to just be outside. To keep cool during the day, the town builds their homes and hotels underground. The two most popular places to stay are the Desert Cave Hotel and the Lookout Cave Underground Motel.
Tour the mines
Opals are what the locals of Coober Pedy mine, and there are two to explore. There’s the Umoona Opal Mine & Museum, where you can book a tour and gain interesting insights about the town and its history, as well as Tom’s Working Opal Mine, which you can also tour.
Fossick for gemstones
Nothing says outback Australia quite like fossicking. It’s a method for uncovering gems and gold, and the term roughly translates to rummaging. Coober Pedy is dotted with many fossiking sites, but for the tourist it is recommended to head to Jewell Box Hill. Fossicking is carried out by moving the soild from the mines with a small pick and shovel to expose stone to the sunlight.
Explore the Painted Desert
The Painted Desert is about 130km north of Coober Pedy. It’s so named because of the colours that bounce off the sides of the hills. You can drive up to view this majestic desert and wander through its hilly terrain, making sure to pack plenty of water and food, or you can book yourself a flight over the hills with Wright’s Air.
Absorb nature at Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park
Covering almost 15,000 hectares is the Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park, featuring a stunning backdrop of outback Australia. The area is home to over 60 unique flora, as well as a vibrant array of local wildlife. The region is part of the traditional country of the Antakirinja Matuntjara Yankunytjatjara people. Be sure to pack plenty of supplies before visiting.