Posted by: travelrat | May 15, 2013

Coober Pedy: Opal Central.

Coober 1

Coober Pedy: 24th April 2012

If you like quirky and off-beat, you’ll love Coober Pedy. It’s famous, of course, for the opals mined here, and everywhere, there’s evidence of the mining … including warnings to take care, lest you fall down a pit. There’s lots of machinery still hanging about, as well as lots of cars and trucks from a bygone generation, all so dilapidated, it’s hard to tell what’s still in use and what’s abandoned

There’s more above ground than I expected, although what we see is actually the frontage of a home, a shop, a restaurant, a mine … or even a hotel or a church, tunnelled into the hillside. The ’underground town’ I was expecting was, actually, many ‘dugouts’; houses tunnelled into the side of the hill, rather like some of the houses on Santorini. Most of what the restaurants and shops have to offer is boldly advertised with bright, garish signs verging on the primitive, which might, originally, have been hand painted.

Everywhere, they sell opals, and it’s probably illegal to leave town without buying any.

A must to visit, even if you don’t play golf, is the Coober Pedy Golf Club, with its oiled-sand ‘browns’, and notices sternly exhorting visitors to ‘Keep Off The Grass’ … even though there isn’t a single blade for miles around.

Noodling

In the afternoon, we went on a short tour. We saw one of the many underground churches, and had a short ‘noodle’ around a mullock heap. We found a few small, valueless opals, and wondered if the site had been previously ‘salted’?

Then, an inspection of ‘Crocodile Harry’s’ mine and underground house. It’s said this bygone, larger than life character was the model for ‘Crocodile Dundee’. The dwelling is left largely as it was in Harry’s day … except that, for a small contribution, you can add to his original ‘artwork’ on the walls … if you can find room!

Crocodile Harry's 3

 

 

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