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Coober Pedy – John Dunstan & Opal capital of the World

Coober Pedy is referred to as the Opal capital of the World.  This small rural town is roughly 850km north of Adelaide on the Stuart Highway in northern South Australia. Coober Pedy has a desert climate – it’s very dry and hot in the summer, and cool and dry in the winter. The best time of the year to visit is from April to October, when the weather is mild.

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Coober Pedy – John Dunstan & Opal capital of the World

Coober Pedy is referred to as the Opal capital of the World.  This small rural town is roughly 850km north of Adelaide on the Stuart Highway in northern South Australia. Coober Pedy has a desert climate – it’s very dry and hot in the summer, and cool and dry in the winter. The best time of the year to visit is from April to October, when the weather is mild.

Our Places

Coober Pedy – John Dunstan & Opal capital of the World

Coober Pedy is referred to as the Opal capital of the World.  This small rural town is roughly 850km north of Adelaide on the Stuart Highway in northern South Australia. Coober Pedy has a desert climate – it’s very dry and hot in the summer, and cool and dry in the winter. The best time of the year to visit is from April to October, when the weather is mild.

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John Dunstan spent over 50 years mining and unearthed $1 million in opal, many believe to be the most beautiful in the world. John says has never found a gemstone better than the one he uncovered in 2003. The Virgin Rainbow is on display at the South Australian Museum in Adelaide as the centrepiece of an exhibition created to celebrate opal mining in Australia. It is said to glow with an internal fire, catching the available light and sending it back in a brilliant rainbow.

The Belemnite “pipe” – an opal formed over millions of years in the skeleton of an extinct ancestor of the modern cuttlefish – was dislodged while John was digging into the workings of an old mineshaft with an excavator.

John Dunstan

Mining Town of Historic Significance

Over the years, the mysterious town has evolved into a unique place. Once the Opal Mining capital of the World, now it relies as much on tourism to sustain its small population of a few thousand. Temperatures often climb to 125°F or 52°C during the hottest three to four months of the year and so residents built their dwellings underground.

Coober Pedy’s underground homes, churches, hotels and other buildings have become a tourist attraction. You can take a trip underground and discover a whole world of Opals in the town of Coober Pedy at the Umoona Opal Mine & Museum.

An original opal mine on Coober Pedy’s main street has been converted into a huge underground tourist attraction. The opal mine first worked in the 1920s and today operates as a store and a museum.

Enthusiastic tour operators will take you through the mine and explain the incredible history of opals, of the aboriginal history and of the mine itself. You can watch ‘The Story of Opal’ a 20 minute award-winning documentary to be viewed in an underground theatre.

See an actual underground home called a ‘dugout’ and learn out it was made as well as what it’s like to live underground. The underground museum hosts a staggering array of stunning opals and fossils. After exploring the caverns of the mine you may wish to return to the underground shop and purchase some exquisite opal jewellery and items from the store.

Once you’re used to living underground, you’ll never live in a house again. 

John Dunstan, Opal Miner – Life against the odds in Australia’s underground town

Underground Store

Coober Pedy is not only famous for opals, it’s also famous for its underground hotels which offers something to suit every budget. Staying at least one night underground is highly recommended! If you’re planning on a road trip to explore South Australia, Coober Pedy is an absolute must!

If Coober Pedy looks like something out of a movie, that’s because it is…

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