Inside a mine
This gives an idea what it looks like down one of the opal mines. The shaft is sunk vertically, then you dig horizontally where possible, trying to follow the 'seam' of opal, if you find one.
On a tour, it's possible that you can go down certain working mines.
Town Outskirts tour
Take a tour outside the town centre a bit to see all the digging machinery at work.
I think it would be too dangerous to go out there by yourself, as the shafts are very deep and they're simply EVERYWHERE.
This fence is the longest man-made barrier in the world. It's 1.4-2.4m high and about 5400km long. It runs from the Gold Coast in Queensland to Ceduna in South Australia.
There are more dingoes north and west of the fence, which was put up to keep the dingoes from the sheep in the south. Dingoes south of the fence are shot, poisoned, killed!
What you'll see
The over-riding thing you'll see at Coober Pedy is piles of dirt. Lots of piles of dirt. More than you could ever imagine. In fact you'll see them before you get there and, if you're heading north, for over 40kms after the town.
They're known as mullock heaps and "noodlers" used to get amongst them and seek the opals that the miners might have overlooked. However, these days there's a process whereby they use a darkroom and ultraviolet light to scan the entire load that comes from the mine. This virtually eliminates any possibility that good opal will escape the miner's notice.
You'll also see lots of funny looking things attached to trucks (pics 2,3 & 4). They're like a big vacuum cleaner and used to remove the quarried mineral from the mine.
A stop you won't regret!
"A town like no other!"
When I mentioned that I was going to stay at Coober Pedy on my travels I was asked * Why on earth are you staying there?* My answer was simple, because I want to see this Opal mining town up close.
I have noticed that some VTer's have put tips of * Don't stop , drive through*, how do they know what this place is like if they drove through and didn't get into the history and what makes this town.
So we arrived at this town and stayed two nights. We arrived early afternoon and started to explore. We did this over the next day also, we were so glad we didn't listen to the negatives....now I am going to tell you about the positives....
"Opals, Heat and Opal diggings everywhere."
Coober Pedy is a Opal mining town.
That is what nearly everyone is there for, to search for the most beautiful opal and make their fortune. Apparently it can get into your blood, many we spoke to had been there for a short holiday and ended up staying there, even though most admitted they do get out of the town at least once a year, this being in the summer as it gets bloody hot mate!!!!
Either coming from the south or north you will notice mounds of dirt everywhere, these are the underground mines. Little mounds, big mounds, mounds and more mounds. You will also notice some very interesting machinery around these mounds, machinery that has been exclusivly for the art of Opal mining the Pedy way.
The landscape is flat as a tack, except for these mounds.