This South Australian town has always intrigued me, with approx. half of its population living underground and famous for its opal mines.
We took the opportunity to stay underground for a couple of nights in an underground campsite, and although strange at first setting up camp in an underground area, it was a very pleasant experience due to how cold the nights get at this time of year. Underground remains at a constant 20 degrees.
There are plenty of tourist attractions in town, and we took advantage and visited the Catacomb Church, and the Umoona Opal Mine and Museum.
The Catacomb was developed from an old dugout and opened in 1977. The church was named after the Catacombs in Rome and is a place to escape the harsh climatic extremes and enjoy quiet, coolness and peace. The church has been cut out of the sandstone in the shape of a cross.
Umoona Opal Mine Museum takes you on a guided tour of the mine which was first mined in the 1920’s. Starting with a 20-minute documentary – “The Story of Opal”, you are then taken down into the old mine to see what life was like working and living underground over time. The site is also home to the Heritage Museum, which is free to walk around and learn about the history of the area.
The showroom and opal shop has the biggest range of Coober Pedy opals, and you even get to see one worth $45,000.
We also took a drive out to Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park. The park covers almost 15,000 hectares, and the scenery is spectacular.
Situated about 35km. north of Coober Pedy you can do a round trip through the park, and along part of the dog fence back to where you started. Organised trips can be booked in town, or if you are travelling in a 4wd, then take the time by yourselves and go at your own pace.
A permit is required to enter the park, and this can be obtained from the council office desk in the tourist information for only $10 per vehicle.