Road trip to Coober Pedy

The first travel I planned as part of my career break is to a place called Coober Pedy (popularly known as Opal capital of the World) in the South Australia state of Australia. It is about 840 kilometres from South Australia’s capital city, Adelaide.

Coober Pedy is famous for the opal mining industry and is one of the unique places in Australia. It is basically in the middle of nowhere in the outback and it is Australia’s underground town where 80% of the people live underground. The underground homes are referred to as “Dugouts”. It is ranked as World’s strangest town.

Did you know that Coober Pedy was featured in the video game series called Forza?

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Road trip to Coober Pedy

How to get there?

There are four ways to get to the town:

  • Flight – There are frequent flights run by Regional Express between Adelaide and Coober Pedy.
  • Drive – It is about 840 kilometres i.e. 9 hours’ drive (one-way) from Adelaide.
  • Bus Greyhound Australia run buses between Adelaide and Coober Pedy.
  • Train – The Ghan express stops at Manguri, which is around 40 kilometres from Coober Pedy.

More detailed information can be found on their official website.

Precautions to be taken

  • Beware of the cows, kangaroos, emus, sheep, lizards and other wildlife that may come on roads suddenly.
  • Take lots of water and snacks.
  • Beware of overtaking road trains.
  • Glendambo is the last town to have fuel before heading to Coober Pedy from Adelaide. The distance between the two towns is 253 kilometres. Note: Coober Pedy has fuel stations.
Coober Pedy

Our itinerary

My friends Vijay and Keyur and I decided to do a road trip from Adelaide. We all could drive and have Australian full licences. Also, the roads to Coober Pedy are in excellent condition. They are marked and proper cemented roads.

The itinerary that we followed is:

Day 1

The day was just to fly into Adelaide from Sydney.

  • Took a flight from Sydney to Adelaide. The one-way ticket on Qantas costed AUD 136.06 + 6000 Qantas points.
  • Hired the car at the airport.
  • Stayed at Adelaide YHA for the night.

Total distance to drive: None.

Day 2

  • Drove to Coober Pedy via Port Augusta.
  • Stayed at Coober Pedy for the night.

Total distance to drive: Adelaide to Coober Pedy – 846 kilometres (9 hours).

Coober Pedy

Day 3

  • Sightseeing at Coober Pedy. Refer Things to do section to see what all things can be done.
  • Started our drive back towards Adelaide.
  • Stayed at Quorn for the night.

Total distance to drive: Coober Pedy to Quorn – 580 kilometres (6 hours).

Coober Pedy

Day 4

  • Sightseeing at Quorn. Refer Things to do section to see what all things can be done.
  • Drove back to Adelaide airport.
  • Stayed at Adelaide YHA for the night.

Total distance to drive: Quorn to Adelaide airport via Wallaroo – 350 kilometres (4.5 hours).

Coober Pedy

Day 5

  • Flew from Adelaide to Sydney. The flight costed me AUD 129.06 per person on Jetstar.

Total distance to drive: None.

Things to do

I have divided things to do based on the places I visited.

Coober Pedy

  • Tom’s Working Opal Mine tour – This is a great tour to get a sneak peak into the Opal mining. They have different guided tours, costing from AUD 15 to AUD 28.
  • Stay underground – ✅
  • Painted desert
  • Longest fence of 5600 kilometres – Even though we wanted to see this, but we could not because of time constraints.
  • Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park
  • Visit underground churches – ✅
  • Umoona Opal Mine and Museum – ✅

Port Augusta

We could not spend lot of time at Port Augusta and hence we were unable to see the below list of things.

  • Wadlata Outback Centre
  • Mattew Flinders Red Cliff Lookout
  • RSL Military museum
  • Port Wakefield itself (known for its good bakery)
  • Lochiel (check the big, dry lake for the Loch Ness Monster)

Quorn

  • Pichi Richi Railway station – ✅ This was really interesting as we saw a train with Steam engine board and start its journey.

Where are we staying?

We stayed at three different places for three nights, one of them being an underground accommodation.

Adelaide

  • Name: YHA
  • Cost: AUD 27 in a 6 Female Dorm
  • Address: 135 Waymouth Street , Adelaide, SA, 5000

Coober Pedy

Quorn

  • Name: Transcontinental Hotel (booked through AirBnB)
  • Cost: AUD 82 for 3 people (AUD 27.34 per person)
  • Address: 15 Railway Terrace, Quorn SA 5433, Australia
300*250

Car hire

We got a corporate offer, so the car hire expenses turned out to be very cheap. While hiring a car from a rental company, we always look for complete insurance with minimum excess. The total cost including the ultimate protection is AUD 277.50 for 3 people. This does not include the fuel charges, which costed us additional AUD 248.79.

Note: Even though we did not hire from Hertz, I have always loved hiring cars from Hertz. The cars are well maintained and clean.

Expenses

Below are my expenses for this whole road trip.

Note: The expenses are for per person. It was a little cheaper because we were three of us and we divided the expenses among the three of us.

  • Flights:
    • Sydney to Adelaide = AUD 136.06
    • Adelaide to Sydney = AUD 129.06
  • Car + Fuel:Car = AUD 92.5
    • Fuel = AUD 82.93
    • Car park = AUD 10
  • Accommodation: YHA Adelaide = AUD 27
    • YHA Adelaide = AUD 27
    • Backpackers Inn (CP) = AUD 40
    • Hotel Transcontinental (Quorn) = AUD 27.4
  • Food = AUD 116.2
  • Museum tour = AUD 10
  • Souvenirs = AUD 70

Total cost = AUD 768.15 per person

Safety for solo female travelers

Overall, Australia is very safe for all kinds of travelers. It is one of the backpacking destinations in the World with amazing facilities and good hostels. So, I would definitely say that it is absolutely safe for solo female travelers we well. However, like any other place, please do take precautions and trust your instinct.

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Road trip to Coober Pedy

Memorable experiences from Coober Pedy 

Look at that Moon!

‘Oh my God!’, ‘What is that?’, ‘Is that really the moon?’, ‘Is it real?’, ‘You got to be kidding me!’ were some of the thoughts my friends and I had when we saw a half-round shaped ‘something’ at the end of the horizon. And yes, we did quickly realise it was the spectacular moon. A big round red moon!

img_1919Memorable experiences from Coober Pedy

The sight was absolutely breathtaking, the moon was huge and red and spectacular. The pictures do no justice to the sight we saw. We parked our car on the side of the highway and took so many pictures to our heart’s content. This is one such beautiful moment that we will never forget in our lives. And we are glad that we experienced this amazing memorable moment.

Spotting a vulture

It is during an unfortunate situation that you spot a vulture. There were so many road kills on my recent road trip, between Adelaide and Coober Pedy. Many wallabies and wildlife killed on the highways. There were dead carcasses on either sides of the roads and these served as a great food source for the vultures. The vultures fed on those dead wallabies, while the crows patiently waited at a considerable distance.

It was my first time. I had never seen a vulture before. They are such big birds and they ruled those roads. But I need to confess, I expected more hair/fur on their heads. Well, they were pretty much bald – which was surprising to me 😀 .

Also read

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Road trip to Coober Pedy

18 Comments

  1. There’s no doubt about it, the South Australia is one of the best road trip destinations in the world. We all crave for a road trip, quitting our daily routine. Thanks for sharing information about this road trip I really like such detailed information.

  2. awesome. i love the sight of vultures there. i have yet to visit that continent. hope things get better soon and we can visit the various places in the world… especially australia.

  3. Judy Morris

    wow the destination looks superb.. especially the landscapes and wild life. Going from Adelaide I will surely remember this place and make it a point to visit it when I am next in Adelaide.

  4. mariakristina92

    Wooow, i never heard about coober peddy before and it makes me wanna go there, specially on those underground homes and churches, that is so cool. I will probably go there one day.

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