Stuart Range Caravan Park
P.O. Box 345, Hutchison Street (Just off the Stuart Highway), Coober Pedy, 5723, Australia
More about Coober Pedy
One of the blowers
Bill walking to the mine
Dummy wheeling a bucket
Travel Tips for Coober Pedy
Old Timers Mine
Here you can go on a mine tour and learn more about Opals and the way they're mined.
Some mining is open cut, done with bulldozers and other heavy machinery, however the most common method is still shaft mining.
When mining for opal, there is approximately a 5% likelihood of success, on average.
Some useful terms:
Noodling/Fossicking = scavenging for opals (on already worked claims at the surface where you are sometimes allowed to go through what’s left)
Potch = milky opal without any colour (valueless and very common)
Life on Mars
Man sent a rocket to Mars. Astronomers were agog with the possibilities, scientists couldn't get to sleep wondering what it would be like on the surface.
Thus it was that the pictures came back and everyone wanted to see them.
However, people at Coober Pedy thought it was all ho-hum as they'd seen it all before; in fact, just out of town.
At some places in town they've even put up pictures side by side of Mars and eastern Coober Pedy. I haven't got access to the Mars pictures, but here's what it's like at Coober Pedy.
Cemeteries everywhere are a repository of history and information. One thing you'll learn here is that many of the original miners came from Greece, Croatia and Serbia, although the latter two were part of Yugoslavia at the time the emigrants left.
Their efforts to leave their country behind had taken them to just about as far as you could get from war torn Europe.
You'll also note that generally they spend more money on memorials and headstones than do other nationalities in this area.
The opening pic is something of an iconic Aussie effort. You can't help but smile when you see it.
The most attractive is undoubtedly the one with the carved porpoises though and it marks the demise of a 29 year old lass which adds to the sadness of it all.
It's located slightly to the south of town just off the Stuart Highway.
More than opals
"On the way"
Coober Pedy is the Opal capital of Australia, set in a rather dry, desolate and hostile environment.
Coober Pedy comes from Kupa meaning 'white man' and Piti meaning 'hole'. It is translated from aboriginal to "white fellows hole in the ground", which suitably reflects the way in which most people live. Many of the people live in dugouts due to the extreme climate conditions within the area.
Since it was on the way to Alice Springs and had a reputation I allowed a stopover here. How glad am I that I did but it wasn't the opals that had me raving; no, it was The Breakaways.
"Things to do"
Coober Pedy was made famous not only for its opals but also by the film Mad Max III. You can visit Crocodile Harry's that also featured in the film, which is a very unique dugout house. Travelling further north slightly you can also visit The Castle which is a white and yellow formation amongst the Breakaways Reserve. (You can buy permits from the tourist office in Coober Pedy for $2.20 per person [2010 prices]). You should also head out to the Big Winch that has a great lookout over the town. There are also several trips around the opal fields and the town itself, as well as an interesting mail run into small rural communities and other interesting things to do in Coober Pedy.
There are several places to stay including campsites which may not be as lush as others you have stayed in, but interesting all the same. There are also several hostels, motels and hotels, some of which offer room above and below ground. There are a number of restaurants and cafes in town, and some of the pubs serve food. You can also try the miners club. If you are not driving then you can get to Coober Pedy from both Adelaide and Alice Springs by Greyhound bus services.
Coober Pedy is the opal capital of Australia and is decribed by the Lonely Planet as a friendly enough place, but it has a reputation for being volatile. Since 1987 the police station has been bombed twice and the courthouse once, the most succesfull restaurant was demolished by a blast and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of mining equipment has gone the same way. Coober Pedy means white fellow's hole in the ground in Aboriginee, because people live underground to get out of the heat. About 40 nationalities live there because of the mining.