This article isn't about opals, but rather a journey to appreciate the beauty of Australia's opal-producing regions from a different perspective.

A self-guided tour in Australia is always an adventure for the soul. When we think of this beautiful country, images of Sydney's relaxed beaches, Melbourne's artistic vibe, and the Great Barrier Reef's stunning corals come to mind. But now, let's take you to a different world, to a hidden gem in Australia — Coober Pedy. This place, rarely included in tour group itineraries, boasts a unique charm that promises an unforgettable self-guided adventure.

Coober Pedy Town
Coober Pedy Town (Source:  Top Oz Tours)

Beyond Your Imagination: The Hidden Town of Coober Pedy

Located in the southern part of Australia, Coober Pedy is a treasure-filled secret. Known for its national gem, the opal, the town has developed a unique culture around opal mining, including living in caves. According to the 2021 census, Coober Pedy is often featured in Bucket List recommendations for its Mars-like terrain and vibrant colors, offering an extraordinary self-guided experience.

How to Reach the Most Challenging Travel Destination?

1. Self-Drive

Driving from Adelaide along the Stuart Highway leads you to the entrance of this town. Self-driving is highly recommended, as having a car in Australia significantly increases your exploration options. The road from Adelaide to Coober Pedy is spacious and flat, with ample parking and plenty of gas stations along the way. For Hong Kong people, the vast landscapes and blue skies are a refreshing change. The journey from Adelaide to Coober Pedy takes about 9 hours, and it's safer to have two people taking turns driving. As someone who has traveled this route more than ten times, I suggest starting early and aiming to arrive before dark. At night, animals like sheep, kangaroos, or emus may appear on the road, attracted by the lights. To avoid accidents, it's best to reach your destination before nightfall. **One important note: Be aware that in some areas, your phone may only display "SOS", indicating no signal availability. Therefore, you won't be able to make calls. It's advisable to download maps from Google Maps beforehand for these locations.

2. Taking a Small Plane

Despite its size, Coober Pedy is accessible by plane, highlighting the importance of its industry. The tiny airport can accommodate about twenty passengers per flight, with daily flights between Adelaide and Coober Pedy. Note that there's no public transport from Coober Pedy airport to the town center, so arrange a shuttle service with your hotel in advance.

Coober Pedy Airport
Coober Pedy Airport (Source:  Michelle Yuen)

3. The Only Budget-Friendly Option

A bus journey from 7 pm to 6 am the next day, lasting 11 hours, costs between AUD 230 and 236. Buying a round-trip ticket saves AUD 6 per trip. The bus offers small lights, USB charging ports, extendable seats, and restrooms. Although you can't see the scenery at night, you might catch a glimpse of the stars if the bus lights are off, and enjoy some views if you wake up early. However, an 11-hour bus ride can be a test of endurance. Tickets can be purchased directly on the following website, and electronic tickets are accepted for boarding. Secure your tickets through [Greyhound Australia].

Coober Pedy: A Martian Landscape?

With a population of only 1,566, Coober Pedy might be small, but it's equipped with an airport, hospital, schools, post office, museum, churches, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, offices, and jewelry stores.

1. Kanku Breakaways & Dog Fence

The Kanku Breakaways & Dog Fence offer magnificent scenery. This nature reserve features unique terrain with soft soil and mountains made of alternating layers of light yellow, orange, and brown rocks. You can find shell fossils in the soil, adding to the area's unique beauty. The Dog Fence, one of the world's longest fences, stretches over 5,000 kilometers from South to East Australia, separating dingoes from sheep areas. Along the South Australian section of the Dog Fence, you can witness Mars-like landscapes with orange-red soil and small hills rising from the barren land.

Kanku Breakaways & Dog Fence
Kanku Breakaways & Dog Fence (Source: Michelle Yuen)
Kanku Breakaways & Dog Fence
Photographed by Michelle Yuen

2. Umoona Opal Mine & Museum

At Umoona Opal Mine & Museum, you can learn about the local Aboriginal history and the role of opals in Coober Pedy. Join a paid tour to delve deeper into how opals are formed, the mining process, and history, taking you back to the 1920s and immersing you in a miner's life. While I recommend the paid tour, the museum also has free areas open to the public. For details, visit [ Umoona Opal Mine Tours]

Umoona Opal Mine & Museum
Umoona Opal Mine & Museum (Source: Umoona Opal Mine & Museum)

3. 360 Big Winch Lookout

  • Address: Italian Club Rd, Coober Pedy SA 5723, Australia

The Big Winch Lookout showcases a winch and large bucket used for transporting underground minerals to the surface. Enjoy Coober Pedy's most beautiful sunsets here, with clear skies and stunning orange hues. If the weather is warm, consider dining outdoors at the 360 Big Winch restaurant to enjoy dinner with a sunset view. For more details, visit [ 360 Big Winch]

360 Big Winch
360 Big Winch (Source: Flinders Ranges and Outback)

4. Serbian Orthodox Church

  • Address: Potch Gully Rd, Coober Pedy SA 5723, Australia
  • Phone: +61 886723048
  • Open Hours: 24hrs
The Serbian Orthodox Church is a unique underground church in Coober Pedy. Allegedly built by a miner who also serves as a priest, it's the go-to place for weddings in town. A visit typically lasts 5-10 minutes.
Serbian Orthodox Church
Serbian Church, Coober Pedy (Source: Tripadvisor)

5. Old Timer’s Mine: Authentic Mining Adventure

Put on a safety helmet and embark on an adventure at this experiential museum. A thorough exploration takes about an hour, offering a glimpse into the life and work of Coober Pedy miners around 100 years ago.

Old Timers Mine
Old Timers Mine (Source: Coober Pedy Retail, Business & Tourism Association)

***Important Safety Notice for Exploration!

When venturing outside the town center to the mining areas, watch your step. Unfilled holes can be deceptively deep, drilled by miners to test for opals. The town, both in the center and outskirts, is covered in yellow soil, so avoid wearing white shoes as they get dirty easily.

Holes in Mining Areas
Holes in mining areas in Coober Pedy (Source: Photograph by Michelle Yuen)

Coober Pedy: Gourmet Delights in the Desert?

Coober Pedy, surprisingly, has delicious food even it is a desert! Here are some recommendations:

1. Big Winch 360 Cafe

Enjoy stunning views at the Big Winch 360 Café. Remember to make a reservation if you're in a large group, as it gets busy in the evenings. Try their barbecued pork ribs and lamb shank, tender and flavorful. The restaurant occasionally offers rice dishes, so ask about garlic prawn rice or curry options.

Big Winch 360 Cafe
Big Winch 360 Cafe (Source: Government of South Australia)

2. Outback Bar & Grill

Located next to a gas station, this restaurant's Pork Chop is a must-try. The tender, juicy pork chop, paired with smooth mashed potatoes, creates a delightful combination.

Outback Bar & Grill - Coober Pedy SA
Outback Bar & Grill (Source: Coober Pedy Retail, Business & Tourism Association)

3. John's Pizza Bar & Restaurant

  • Address: 1/24 Hutchison St, Coober Pedy SA 5723, Australia
  • Phone: +61 886725561

For pizza lovers, John's Pizza Bar & Restaurant is the place to be. Situated near the main street, it's popular for takeaways. Experience the miners' favorite flavors here.

John's Pizza Bar & Restaurant
John's Pizza Bar & Restaurant (Source: Menu Spot)

4. Greek Community Club Coober Pedy

Every Friday, the Greek Community Club hosts an all-you-can-eat barbecue party. Adults pay AUD 25, children AUD 10, excluding drinks. Starting at 6 pm, the indoor fireplace adds to the cozy atmosphere, making it an ideal spot to experience local vibes.

Greek Community Club in Coober Pedy
Greek Community Club in Coober Pedy (Source: Greek Community Club's Facebook Page)

Accommodations in Coober Pedy | Cave Hotels?

Dugouts are a unique cultural feature of Coober Pedy. Staying in a local cave hotel or guesthouse is a must when visiting. The caves, formed due to opal mining, are cool in summer and warm in winter, making them ideal dwellings in the desert. The only downside is the lack of sunlight, so set an alarm clock!

Comfort Inn

The entire inn is located inside a cave, with walls bearing mining marks and even visible gypsum and opal. Comfort Inn is a quality-assured chain motel in Australia. The inn offers a lounge area, reading corner, dining area, and rooms equipped with TVs, microwaves, and kettles, all within the mine, offering a unique experience.

Comfort Inn in Coober Pedy
Comfort Inn in Coober Pedy (Source:

Desert Cave Hotel

  • Address: 1 Hutchison St, Coober Pedy SA 5723, Australia
  • Phone: +61 886725688
  • Website:

The only hotel in Coober Pedy and a 4-star establishment, it features a museum, restaurant, and swimming pool. Umberto Coro, who worked in mining and hospitality in Coober Pedy for over 26 years, wanted to share the underground living experience with visitors. Unfortunately, he passed away in a traffic accident in 1986. His son Robert and staff continued his vision, overcoming extreme heat and sandstorms in the desert to open the hotel in 1988.

Comfort Inn in Coober Pedy
Desert Cave Hotel (Source:

Lookout Cave Underground Motel

  • Address: Lot 1138 Catacomb Road, 5723 Coober Pedy, Australia
  • Phone: +61 886725118

Although I haven't stayed here yet, this motel is built into a hillside cave, offering a unique and refined experience. Despite being an "underground" motel, it's situated on a hill, making it a "high-rise" in Coober Pedy.

Lookout Cave Underground Motel
Lookout Cave Underground Motel (Source:

Opal Inn Hotel, Motel, Caravan Park

  • Address: 1 Hutchison St, Coober Pedy SA 5723, Australia
  • Phone: +61 8867250541
  • Website:

If you prefer waking up to sunlight, this classic motel might be your choice. It offers stable hot water supply and camping trailer sites. It's popular among opal buyers who are no longer intrigued by caves. Compared to cave hotels, this motel is more competitively priced and seems to have more stable Wi-Fi.

Opal Inn Hotel, Motel, Caravan Park
Opal Inn Hotel, Motel, Caravan Park (Source:

Cave Camping

Honestly, I learned about this unique accommodation option from MillMilk's videos. It's impressive how MillMilk discovered this town for their content. I stayed with the Wilson family (featured in MillMilk's videos) for a month. One day, while discussing YouTube, Wilson asked if I knew the MillMilk channel and its popularity in Hong Kong. I joked, "You're about to become a star!"

Watch the videos here:

Of course, Coober Pedy offers more than the accommodations listed above. There are many more great places to discover!

Climate in Coober Pedy

April to October is the best time to visit Coober Pedy. The desert climate means significant temperature variations between day and night. It can be hot enough for short sleeves at noon, but temperatures drop quickly in the evening, so bring a coat. Visiting from January to March is not recommended due to temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius in the mornings, making it preferable to stay in caves.

Coober Pedy Airport
Coober Pedy Breakaways Sunset (Source: Michelle Yuen)


For those of us living in Hong Kong, traveling to Coober Pedy is an adventure. On my first visit, I found it as unique as it looks, a complete escape from the hustle and bustle. If you have the chance to visit, will you share my feelings? Venture to Coober Pedy, discover one of the most incredible treasures on Earth, and experience the unique charm of a self-guided tour!

Coober Pedy
Welcome Sign at Coober Pedy (Source: Michelle Yuen)

Lastly, don't forget to take a photo at the Welcome sign at the entrance to Coober Pedy!

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