Gems, Dugouts and Night-time Golf: Exploring Coober Pedy.
Coober Pedy is the “opal capital of the world,” but there is so much more to this small town than just gems. It may be famous for its opal production, but it is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in South Australia. There are many odd attractions, and you’ll find that you can spend an entire vacation in this quaint little town without ever visiting the opal mines themselves. It is a wondrous town!
Here are a few things you might want to take advantage of if you are staying in or passing through Coober Pedy:
If you can make it to the city at the end of summer, you’ll make it just in time for the Opal Festival. The festival, held annually to celebrate the beginning of opal mining season, is a colourful and entertaining affair that your whole family will love. There is endless entertainment and fun for everyone including artwork, dances, competitions, games and food. The festival features a circus which is a huge attraction. All in all, if you want to find a family-oriented attraction, the Coober Pedy Opal Festival is the place to be.
If you are searching for comfortable accommodations in the city, don’t forget that Coober Pedy is one of the best places in the country for golf. Golf lovers will find the unique golf course fascinating as there isn’t a patch of green throughout the entire stretch of 18 holes. Upon entry, you will be given a piece of turf to carry around with you, and you will tee off from your own small patch. You can play during the heat of the day or use glowing golf balls to tee off in the middle of the night when the temperature has dropped. The Coober Pedy golf course has reciprocal playing rights with one of the most prestigious clubs on the planet: the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. If you’re a golfer, this is the place for you to spend your vacations.
The Old Timers Mine and Museum
First dug in 1916, this mine is almost 100 years old. You’ll be able to tour the mine on your own, or you can take a guided tour if you prefer to hear the history of the mine. You’ll be amazed at the ingenuity of the mine, and you can explore the network of underground rooms where the miners lived for years. The entire mine is laid out like a dugout, and the maze of underground living quarters will astonish you. This mine is a testament to the ingenuity of the Australians that worked in the mines, and you’ll find that the entire mine is preserved very well. The tunnels and shafts of the mine may seem terrifying at first, but you’ll feel comfortable underground in no time.
Crocodile Harry’s Underground Nest
Your kids will love this underground paradise, where they’ll be able to see drawings left by thousands of visitors of all ages from around the world. Crocodile Harry was an eccentric fellow that lived in Coober Pedy after working as a crocodile hunter in the north. Thousands of people have left their mark on the walls of his dugout, and people continue to flock to the underground maze of rooms to leave a drawing, a scribble or their names. The movie “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome” was filmed in this awe-inspiring dugout. This is truly one of the most unique places that you will ever visit anywhere in the world.
For food-lovers, Umberto’s restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy dishes you won’t find anywhere else in the world. The wallaby shanks served with steamed vegetables are peerless, and you can get a taste of grilled outback meats including roo, camel and emu. The hand-cut chips are as good as it gets, and few places can prepare a bush chutney like Umberto’s. The rooftop restaurant is best when visited in the late afternoon or early evening — once the sun has set — and their dinner menu is probably the best in the city.
About the Author: As a historian, Rebecca Cook has always been fascinated by Coober Pedy. She has long studied the roots of the mining town and is particularly fond of grilled roo.
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