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Spotlight on the Stops: Coober Pedy

Spotlight on the Stops: Coober Pedy

05 Sep 2019

Spotlight on the Stops: Coober Pedy

As the BWSC Teams continue traveling down the route from Alice Springs, they'll soon make their way towards the NT/SA Border.

The control stop in Kulgera marks the 1,771 point along the BWSC Route, before they hit the border between the Northern Territory and South Australia. An interesting fact about the BWSC is that the official times for recording control stops and timings remain in Northern Territory time, despite arriving in South Australia's daylight savings time. This is to ensure that everyone along the route is working on the same clock.

C:\fakepath\127232    Old Timers Mine, Coober Pedy   South Australian Tourism Commission

Image via South Australian Tourism Commission

A few hundred kilometres later, the teams will arrive in Coober Pedy - one of South Australia's most iconic outback towns, and the Opal capital of the World.

Aside from its rich supply of opals, you may have also heard of Coober Pedy as the town that lives underground. Many of the towns residences are built below ground in ‘dugouts’, due to the scorching heat the town experiences during the day much of the year!

Approximately 150 million years ago, the ocean covered Coober Pedy and the surrounding region. As the sea water receded, changes in climate caused the lowering of underground water tables. Silica solutions were carried down to deposit in cavities, and million of years later, these silica solutions have formed into the famous opal that the town mines and exports.

Today, Coober Pedy is a town rich in diversity and activity, and an essential on any outback roadtrip.

When you descend beneath the ground you’ll quickly discover a labyrinth of undergrounds houses, hotels and shops. Spend your time exploring the underground churches, have your own opal mining experience, or take one of the many local tours in the surrounding natural wonders.

Coober Pedy is also famous for its drive-in cinema, where the BWSC Control Stop is located. We're not sure there's a more Aussie cinema in the whole country!

C:\fakepath\136930   Coober Pedy Drive In Theatre   Daniel Westergren

Image via Daniel Westergren

Here are just a few of some of the other incredible things to do in Coober Pedy and surrounds.

KANKU-BREAKAWAYS CONSERVATION PARK

Experience the expansive, rugged beauty of the Outback at The Breakaways, a 15,000 hectare conservation park 25km outside of Coober Pedy. The striking sandstone tablelands, that turn to spectacular reds and oranges at golden hour,  are also home to a unique array of native flora and fauna. Jump on a guided tour with Arid Areas Tours or grab a permit from the Coober Pedy Visitor Centre and explore this ancient landscape yourself.

C:\fakepath\127757   Kanku Breakaways Conservation Park, Coober Pedy   South Australian Tourism Commission

Image via South Australian Tourism Commission

UMOONA OPAL MINE AND MUSEUM

Delve deep into life in Coober Pedy at this underground museum and opal mine. Learn about the history of aboriginal and European settlement in the area in the underground museum and see fossils gathered from the area’s extinct inland sea. Join a tour to see how life is lived in a modern Coober Pedy underground dugout. Tours at Umoona Opal Mine and Museum through the aboriginal interpretive centre, underground home and the opal mine run daily. There’s also a café and souvenir shop on site.

C:\fakepath\127803   Umoona Opal Mine and Museum   SOuth Australian TOurism Commission

COOBER PEDY OPAL FIELDS GOLF COURSE

Tee-off at the local Opal Fields Golf Club, without a blade of grass in sight! Where the greens are red and the fairways are dusty, it’s the first and only golf course that has been granted reciprocal playing rights at the oldest and most prestigious Golf Course, St. Andrews in Britain. Head to the club on a Friday evening for a round of golf with the locals or pop in to Opalios Jewellers in the main street of town to organise access to the course. You never know, you may even find your own opal in the rough. 

Discover how truly beautiful and unique Coober Pedy is...

KILOMETRES TRAVELED ON THE BWSC (KULGERA): 1,171

KILOMETRES TRAVELED ON THE BWSC (COOBER PEDY): 2,183

KILOMETRES TRAVELED ON THE BWSC (GLENDAMBO): 2,436

Find out more about Coober Pedy here, and on SouthAustralia.com

The 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge takes place from Darwin to Adelaide, South Australia from 13-20 October. 

Header image via Elise Cook