Coober Pedy is not in the I’ve been everywhere song, but it did serve as a ‘base camp’ for my trip into Oodnadatta. It is probably best known for being the Opel Capital of the World and for its underground homes, so worthy of note here.
I arrived in Coober Pedy after driving from, and staying over night, at the camp site in Pilba some 366KM to the south of the town. On arrival you can not fail to notice the evidence of the mining activity that is going on. Mounds of soil/rock/dirt are everywhere to be found apart from in the main shopping strip which consists of petrol stations, a supermarket, chemist, bank, tourist information office and many shops trying to sell freshly mined opels.
Once you turn off the main shopping street the road turns into the unsealed variety and more mounds can be found, only these ones are actually homes, buried into the hillsides.
Temperatures in this remote part of Australia can reach over 40°C in summer. However, by digging into the rocky hillsides, the locals avoid expensive air conditioning costs as the caves they reside in remain constant in temperature day and night and much lower than the peek outside temperatures of summer.
I was fortunate to get an underground room at the Desert View Apartments along Catacomb Road in Coober Pedy. The room was simply a long tunnel dug into the side of the hill with a bathroom block and door built on at the outermost end. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I notice the room has an echo as I walk around but the whitewashed walls create a feeling of openness and not claustrophobic at all. During my visit the outside temperature was peeking at around 24°C and I did not notice any fluctuation in the temperature within my room – remaining comfortable throughout.
At night I was expecting the room to be quiet given it is located within rock. This was the case however, each bedroom did have an air pipe going directly to the surface above and from time to time I could here the echos of a dog barking in the distance. Similarly, the room was not totally pitch black as I was expecting, due totally to be leaving the room door open and light from outside managing to just filter its way through. Nonetheless, you can not fail to sleep well here with such little distraction.
Coober Pedy is the nearest town to Oodnadatta, my penultimate destination for this adventure where I head off to tomorrow.