Ken and Sheena - Living the Dream! travel blog

Inside Desert Cave hotel

Outside one of the opal shops that is set in the hill....

view over town

Entrance into Coober Pedy

Inside the hotel

Outside the hotel


After a long, pleasant drive up from Port Augusta we arrived in Coober Pedy at about 3.00 pm, quickly set up the caravan, then headed into town.

What an amazing place – it is definitely like something we have never seen before! Coober Pedy is just a small town and as we drove down the dusty streets for the first time it felt a little bit of a let down. The first block of buildings we drove past had signs up advertising ‘Bakery’, ‘Backpackers’, etc but on closer inspection the windows were all boarded up and the glass smashed. As you go further down the street there are small shops with neon lights flashing and gaudy coloured shop fronts inviting you in to come and view ‘the best and cheapest opal in town’. It almost had the feel of a street of brothels enticing you to enter. Next to these shops there may be a big clearing of red dirt and at the back is a hill with a doorway and again signs inviting you in to view the opal but with the added promise of a mine tour and maybe even an underground house. Must check those out tomorrow.

Ahh – now this looks a little bit more civilized! We have come to the Desert Cave Hotel – looks very impressive from the outside – lets have a look inside. Oh my God – how awesome is this. As soon as you enter the foyer you realize it has been dug completely into the hill with a bar, café, opal shop (of course!) and ‘the only underground gaming room’ – yep there’s those pokies again. The whole complex is absolutely amazing and you are very much encouraged to have a walk and look around.

After spending some time in here we decided to check out some opal shops before they shut. The first couple we wandered into had the feel of a typical souvenir shop (and they did have some souvenirs for sale) but the main items were of course the opal – both jewelry and unset stones. They were very beautiful and each stone was so different - but to me the settings they were in felt a bit mass-produced. The next one though felt more like a jewelry shop and you could tell this shop was different. There were the usual oval shapes but there were also many that were different and the range of opals was just stunning. We got talking to the owner and learnt a bit about opal mining, the town of Coober Pedy and some of the characters who lived there. There was one pendant in here that caught my eye so we made note of which shop we were in and told him we may be back tomorrow.

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