One of the quirkiest and most unique places to visit in Australia is Coober Pedy, the opal capital of the world, roughly halfway between Alice Springs and Adelaide in the remote South Australian Outback. The term ‘Down Under’ takes on a new meaning in the dusty orange outback town that looks deserted. It’s quiet, dry, and eerie. You stand still waiting for the aliens or zombies to appear any minute behind the scrap metal, rotting cars, or over the mounds. Don’t panic when you see a sudden silhouette come walking out of the crashed spacecraft!

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A prop from the filming of the sci-fi thriller Pitch Black – not without reason, the lunar landscape that surrounds Coober Pedy has been a filming location for many movies, including Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

Coober Pedy, meaning “white man’s holes”, was named by the Aboriginal people who were struck by the early settlers’ preference for subterranean living and opal mining activities following the discovery of the precious stone back in 1915. Today this fun and mysterious town is sustained by tourism and the opal mining industry. Because it’s fiercely hot here, about half of roughly 2000 inhabitants live in dugouts where the temperature hovers around 23 °C year-round. It’s not just the homes that are underground, the shops, hotels, swimming pools, churches are all dug out under the earth as well.

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Greyhound Coach Service from Alice Springs to Adelaide running daily provides an easy stopover at this peculiar place. So, we broke the long journey and spent a night in an underground hotel in Coober Pedy with the darkest, quietest bedrooms I’ve ever known. The thick rock walls were so soundproof that a tight sleep was guaranteed.

For sightseeing in Coober Pedy, we had just the next day and I found my fellow travelers aged 24, 34, and 44 a bit too relaxed, enjoying here a coffee there a snack every hundred meters or so. By the time I visited the Old Miners Museum alone, all others had already decided to retire for the rest of the day. So, obviously, something was wrong with me that I couldn’t tick off all the places I wanted to see (was it the age pattern??).

Should I ever return to a place in Australia, it would be Coober Pedy with its strange charm. The next time I’d join a Mail Run tour for a day as well. And who knows I might even dig out, or ‘noodle’ as the locals call it, my own million-dollar worth Opal too😄

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Coober Pedy Australia 2 The mounds not revealing much about the life inside.
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The 3,488-mile dog fence can be found just outside of Coober Pedy. Built to protect sheep, it is the world’s longest continuous construction
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