We arrived in Coober Pedy just before dark and tired after the long days drive we crashed out early in our ‘dungeon’. The Hostel was a landmark in itself; a proper underground cave with various antechambers filled with beds. Although the lack of doors did mean it wasn’t the quietest nights sleep.
After a brief noodling session and some food we drove the short distance to the ‘Old Timers Mine’ which offered self guided tours for $15. After donning our hard hats we set off armed with our guide map. The mine itself was really interesting, with manikins scattered throughout to mimic the original process. There were also examples of opal left in the rock, as they would have looked when mined. It has obviously been renovated for the tourists but still retained the feel of its original state. Certainly enough to make the claustrophobic a little uncomfortable.
Coober Pedy is an interesting dip into a very outback experience. Remote, hot and dusty it is everything you would expect but with the mining history it moves from a novelty to actually something quite interesting. With everything from houses, churches and the post office underground and struggles with drinking water and communications it is an image of endurance and survival in some of the harshest conditions in the world.