Coober Pedy is situated in the South Australian Outback, and basically exists thanks to a 14-year old boy named William Hutchison. William found the first pieces of opal at Coober Pedy in 1915, whilst on a gold prospecting trip with this father.
The name Coober Pedy comes from the Aboriginal words 'kupa' and 'piti', meaning 'white man' and 'hole in the ground'.
The town is world renowned for its precious opal and also for its unique method of living underground in 'dugouts'.
About 80% of the people living here live underground. It is the largest producer of opal in the world.
Coober Pedy is different from anything you would have seen, unless you've been to Lightening Ridge! They are very similar, both very much still mining towns, but Coober Pedy seems a bit more modern.
Our accommodation is great, we love it. We wanted to stay underground in Coober Pedy and had picked this motel as it was the first underground motel built here, and one of only a few that are truly underground. All rooms have been dug out into a sandstone hill, it's amazing.
The rooms are great and the staff are great too. Our room has a bedroom, bathroom and living area with tv and table, as well as a small kitchenette with microwave, kettle, toaster, crockery and cutlery and microwave dishes if cooking. We also have tea and coffee and supplies for continental breakfast (toast, cereal, spreads, milk etc) all included in the price.
The gardens of the motel are great too, considering very few people appear to have gardens here due to all the sand (no grass around!), they have done an awesome job here. We both absolutely love it and even commented that we'd love to buy and run a small motel like this.
A visit to a few opal shops and a few purchases later we were off to visit a mine. We had been told to visit the Old Timers Mine, so that's exactly what we did! What a great tourist attraction, the mine and museum gives more than enough information on what it was like being a miner and the history of the area.
So we donned our hard hats and entered the mine!
This particular mine dates back to 1916, but for some reason, whoever the miners were, concealed the mine by back-filling the shafts. Noone knows why they never returned to dig out the remaining opal though.
It was then in 1968 that the hidden mine was discovered by Ron Gough, when he was digging out to expand his underground home. As he broke through, he exposed 3 seams of opal and opalised seashells.
Next stop was to visit Faye's Underground home. This dug out was initially one area which housed the first mail truck driver over 60 years ago.
This was originally a one bedroom home that was converted by Faye Nayler and two other woman, using only picks and shovels, into a kitchen and bedroom. Later in 5 other rooms were added, including a wine cellar and swimming pool (the first in Coober Pedy).
This house and tour was excellent, would love to live in a dug out after exploring this house! The temperature all year round underground is about 25 degrees, so no need to use heating or cooling. This really does seem to be the way to live to escape the harsh and hot environment around here.
The other amazing thing about this place is that it is actually currently lived in. The current owners take you on a tour of their property they are living in! It's great that people can take such pride in their home and the history of it and still be willing to share it with the public so that the history isn't lost.
Faye Nayler must be an amazing woman. She is apparently still alive, in her 80's and living in a suburb near Brisbane.
Went to check out the local golf course, we were going to have a game, but it was just too hot. With no trees or shelter on the course, it was far too hot to be out there. It's quite strange seeing a golf course without a single blade of grass anywhere, and surrounded by opal mines!
Coober Pedy is also the only golf club in the world to have reciprocal rights at the 'home of golf' St. Andrews, Scotland.
Apparently in 2002 the Coober Pedy Golf Course clubhouse was destroyed by fire and after the new clubhouse was built, the president sent a photo of the course to St. Andrews, with a note telling them it was about time they got their course in shape and asked if they would like reciprocal membership!
What started as a joke, turned into surprise when a letter arrived back from St. Andrews Links Trust granting reciprocal rights on the provision that they grant St. Andrews an opal mine!
The mine and reciprocal rights were given and therefore making Coober Pedy Golf Course the only in the world it have reciprocal rights with St. Andrews.