Road Trip Adelaide to Coober Pedy

Road Trip from Adelaide to Coober Pedy (2024)

Australia boasts an extraordinary hidden gem: an underground town! Imagine churches, houses, and bars all nestled beneath the earth, making it one of the world’s most unique destinations. A road trip from Adelaide to Coober Pedy unveils this marvel and promises an unforgettable adventure.

Embark on a journey from Adelaide to Coober Pedy, where the captivating landscapes of the Australian Outback await. Traverse the iconic Stuart Highway and soak in the allure of vast, sun-kissed plains. Feel the pulsating energy of this remote region, where the red earth stretches to meet the endless skies, revealing many hidden treasures.

My first travel expedition, part of a six-month journey, led me to Coober Pedy in South Australia. With my friends, we embarked on this epic road trip from Adelaide to Coober Pedy, beginning our adventure with a flight from Sydney to Adelaide.

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Road trip to Coober Pedy
PIN for later reference – Road Trip from Adelaide to Coober Pedy

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About Coober Pedy

Renowned as the Opal Capital of the World, Coober Pedy stands out for its opal mining industry, making it a must-visit place in South Australia. Nestled in the heart of the outback, Coober Pedy emerges as Australia’s unique underground town, with 80% of its residents living beneath the surface in homes known as “Dugouts.” This unconventional community has earned the title of the World’s Strangest Town.

Interestingly, did you know that Coober Pedy was featured in the popular video game series Forza?

With the board Coober Pedy

How to Get to Coober Pedy?

To reach the town, travellers have four options:

  • By Air Regional Express operates regular flights between Adelaide and Coober Pedy. The most cost-effective approach is to fly to Adelaide and then drive to the town.

Discover the essence of street art in Adelaide while enjoying your stay in the city.

  • By Road – Covering approximately 840 kilometres, the drive from Adelaide to Coober Pedy spans around 9 hours one way. This journey is a must-do, as it offers an adventure in its own right, with breathtaking stopovers and landscapes along the route. You can rent cars conveniently from reputable providers such as Rental Cars or Jucy Rentals. It’s advisable to opt for full insurance with zero excess when renting a car in Australia, ensuring peace of mind throughout your road trip.
  • By Public Transport
    • Bus Greyhound Australia operates bus services between Adelaide and Coober Pedy.
    • Train The Ghan Express stops at Manguri, approximately 40 kilometres from Coober Pedy.

Things to Know for Your Road Trip from Adelaide to Coober Pedy

Before embarking on your road trip from Adelaide to Coober Pedy, there are several crucial factors to consider:

  1. Wildlife Caution: Be vigilant for sudden appearances of cows, kangaroos, emus, sheep, lizards, and other wildlife along the roads. The Outback’s wildlife diversity can be astonishing, so exercise caution.
  2. Hydration Essentials: Given the hot temperatures, ensure you carry ample water and snacks to stay hydrated and energized throughout the journey. Adequate hydration is vital for your well-being in the Outback’s arid conditions.
  3. Road Train Awareness: Exercise caution when overtaking road trains, as they can be lengthy and require ample space for safe passing.
  4. Fuel Stop: Glendambo represents the last refuelling opportunity before continuing from Adelaide to Coober Pedy, with a distance of 253 kilometres between the two towns. Note that Coober Pedy does have fuel stations for your convenience. Be sure to plan accordingly to avoid any inconveniences along the route.
Glendambo - Last fuel station before Coober Pedy
Glendambo – Last fuel station before Coober Pedy

Adelaide to Coober Pedy: Road Trip Itinerary

My two friends and I opted for a road trip from Adelaide. With all of us possessing Australian full driver’s licenses, the driving distance posed no concern. Moreover, the roads leading to Coober Pedy boast excellent conditions, featuring clear markings and well-maintained cemented surfaces. This ensured a smooth and enjoyable journey as we embarked on our adventure to Coober Pedy.

My friends and I at Coober Pedy
My friends and I at Coober Pedy

Our meticulously planned itinerary unfolded as follows:

Day 1 – Sydney to Adelaide

Our journey commenced with a swift flight from Sydney to Adelaide. The one-way ticket, priced at approximately AUD 136.06 plus 6000 Qantas points, facilitated a seamless transition to our road trip adventure.

Upon arrival at Adelaide Airport, we promptly secured a rental car through Rental Cars or Jucy Rentals. Opting for budget-friendly accommodations, we settled in for the night at Adelaide Central YHA. Known for its cleanliness and hospitable staff, YHA is an ideal resting place.

Total distance to drive: None.

Road Trip from Adelaide to Coober Pedy (2024)

Day 2 – Adelaide to Coober Pedy via Port Augusta

Setting off early, we embarked on the scenic drive to Coober Pedy via Port Augusta, covering a distance of 846 kilometres over a nine-hour journey. Upon reaching our destination, we settled into our accommodations for the night, ready to explore the unique charms of Coober Pedy.

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

Coober Pedy - Unique towns in Australia

Day 3 – Coober Pedy Sight Seeing, Coober Pedy to Quorn

Devoting the day to sightseeing in Coober Pedy, we immersed ourselves in its distinctive attractions. From underground wonders to mesmerizing landscapes, Coober Pedy captivated our senses. As dusk approached, we reluctantly bid farewell to Coober Pedy, commencing our drive towards Quorn. Covering 580 kilometres in approximately six hours, we arrived in Quorn and retired for the night.

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

Coober Pedy Underground Town

Day 4 – Quorn Sight Seeing, Quorn to Adelaide

Exploring the picturesque town of Quorn, we revelled in its scenic beauty and abundant activities. After a fulfilling day of sightseeing, we embarked on the journey back to Adelaide, traversing 350 kilometres via Wallaroo. Returning to Adelaide Central YHA for another comfortable night, we reflected on the memorable experiences of our road trip.

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

Day 5 – Adelaide to Sydney

Concluding our adventure, we bid Adelaide farewell and boarded a Jetstar flight back to Sydney. Priced at AUD 129.06 per person, the journey back home marked the end of our exhilarating road trip escapade.

For those with additional time in Adelaide, a visit to Kangaroo Island comes highly recommended, offering further opportunities for exploration and discovery.

Total distance to drive: None.

Things To Do

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

Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy, a gem in the heart of the Outback, offers many unique experiences waiting to be explored.

Tom’s Working Opal Mine Tour: Dive into the world of opal mining with Tom’s Working Opal Mine tour. Choose from a range of guided tours, priced between AUD 15 and AUD 28, offering an insightful glimpse into the fascinating realm of opal extraction.

Underground Accommodations: Delve into the subterranean world by staying at one of the exquisite underground hotels. During our stay, we relished the comforts of Radeka Downunder Underground Motel, immersing ourselves in the allure of underground living.

Painted Desert: Embark on an unforgettable journey to the Painted Desert, approximately 80 kilometres from Coober Pedy. Believed to have formed over 80 million years ago, this natural wonder captivates visitors with its breathtaking landscapes and vivid hues.

Longest Fence: Though time constraints hindered our exploration, the allure of the longest fence, spanning an impressive 5600 kilometres, beckons travellers to witness this remarkable feat of engineering.

Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park: Discover the pristine beauty of Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park, sprawling across 1500 hectares of untouched wilderness. Home to diverse flora and fauna, this conservation park offers a serene retreat amidst nature’s bounty.

Underground Churches: Uncover the hidden treasures of Coober Pedy by visiting its underground churches. Marvel at the architectural wonders crafted beneath the earth’s surface, each exuding a unique charm and tranquillity.

Umoona Opal Mine and Museum: Embark on a guided tour of the renowned Umoona Opal Mine and Museum, a popular attraction in Coober Pedy. With tours running daily at three designated times (10 AM, 2 PM, and 4 PM), visitors are treated to a fascinating journey through the history and heritage of opal mining.

Coober Pedy beckons adventurers with its rich tapestry of experiences, promising an unforgettable journey amidst the rugged beauty of the Outback. Whether delving into the depths of opal mines or marvelling at the wonders of the Painted Desert, each moment in Coober Pedy is a testament to the boundless wonders of the Australian landscape.

Underground church Coober Pedy
Underground church

Port Augusta

Nestled at the intersection of Eyre Highway and Augusta Highway, Port Augusta stands as a charming small city celebrated for its vibrant art galleries and picturesque parks.

Wadlata Outback Centre: The Wadlata Outback Centre stands as a beacon of cultural heritage, offering an immersive journey through the rich history of the Flinders Ranges and Outback. Visitors can delve into the region’s past through captivating exhibits and interactive displays, gaining a deeper understanding of its cultural significance.

Matthew Flinders Red Cliff Lookout: The Matthew Flinders Red Cliff Lookout is an ideal vantage point for breathtaking views of the estuary and bridge. This scenic spot offers stunning panoramas and an excellent opportunity for capturing memorable photographs against the backdrop of the picturesque landscape.

RSL Military Museum: Delve into the storied past of the military at the RSL Military Museum, where a treasure trove of artifacts and historical insights awaits. From poignant memorabilia to riveting accounts of wartime exploits, this museum offers a compelling glimpse into the bravery and sacrifice of those who served.

Port Augusta, with its blend of cultural attractions and natural beauty, invites visitors to embark on a journey of discovery amidst the serene landscapes of South Australia. Whether exploring the region’s rich history at the Wadlata Outback Centre, admiring panoramic vistas from the Matthew Flinders Red Cliff Lookout, or delving into military history at the RSL Military.

Quorn

Our exploration of Quorn unveiled two captivating attractions that left a lasting impression on our journey:

Pichi Richi Railway Station: Our visit to the Pichi Richi Railway Station proved to be a memorable experience, offering a glimpse into the region’s rich history of rail travel. The sight of a majestic train adorned with a steam engine board, chugging along its journey, filled us with a sense of wonder and nostalgia. As we witnessed the locomotive set off on its scenic route, we were transported back in time, marvelling at the timeless charm of steam-powered travel.

Quorn Silo Light Show: Embracing a popular trend in Australia, we ventured to witness the Quorn Silo Light Show. This enchanting spectacle illuminated the night sky with its mesmerizing display. Set against the backdrop of Quorn’s picturesque landscape, the silo light show captivated our senses with its vibrant colours and dynamic visuals. It was a delightful fusion of art and technology, showcasing the creative spirit of the local community and leaving us in awe of its beauty.

These two attractions exemplify the diverse array of experiences awaiting travellers in Quorn. From the nostalgia-inducing allure of steam trains to the contemporary charm of light shows, each encounter promises to be a memorable journey through time and imagination. As we bid farewell to Quorn, we carried cherished memories of our time amidst its scenic splendour and cultural treasures.

Pichi Richi Railway station Quorn
Pichi Richi Railway in Quorn

Where to Stay?

During our excursion, we opted for a diverse range of accommodations, spending three nights in three distinct locations, one of which was nestled underground.

Adelaide

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

You can also consider InterContinental Adelaide, Nightcap at Hendon Hotel or Comfort Hotel Adelaide.

300*250

Coober Pedy

You can also consider Green Opal, City Centre Apartments or Ali’s Underground Home.

Quorn

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

You can also consider Flinders Range Motel or Birdsong Gardens.

Car Rentals

Renting a car or campervan in Australia is straightforward, with numerous rental agencies available at airports and in cities like Rental Cars or Jucy Rentals. All you need is a valid international driver’s license in English. Rental charges are typically calculated based on 24-hour periods from the time of pick-up.

Road Trip from Adelaide to Coober Pedy (2024)

It’s essential to prioritize insurance coverage when renting a vehicle. Full insurance with minimal excess ensures peace of mind during your journey. We secured a remarkably affordable deal thanks to a corporate offer from Thrifty Car Rentals facilitated by a friend. The total expense, including ultimate protection, amounted to just AUD 277.50 for three people. However, it’s important to note that fuel charges were an additional cost, totalling AUD 248.79.

While we didn’t rent from Hertz on this occasion, I’ve always preferred their services. Hertz cars are renowned for their comfort and cleanliness, making them a reliable choice for travellers seeking a seamless rental experience.

Total Cost for Road Trip from Adelaide to Coober Pedy and Back

Please note that the expenses listed below are calculated per person. As there were three of us on this road trip, we divided the total expenses evenly among us, resulting in slightly lower costs for each individual.

Flights:

  • Sydney to Adelaide: AUD 136.06
  • Adelaide to Sydney: AUD 129.06

Car + Fuel:

  • Car rental: AUD 92.5
  • Fuel: AUD 82.93
  • Car park: AUD 10

Accommodation:

  • YHA Adelaide (one night): AUD 27
  • YHA Adelaide (two nights): AUD 27
  • Backpackers Inn (CP): AUD 40
  • Hotel Transcontinental (Quorn): AUD 27.4

Other Expenses:

  • Food: AUD 116.2
  • Museum tour: AUD 10
  • Souvenirs: AUD 70

Total cost: AUD 768.15 per person

By splitting the expenses among the three of us, we managed to keep the overall cost of the road trip affordable and within our budget.

Is Road Trip from Adelaide to Coober Pedy Safe for Solo Female Travellers?

Australia stands out as a remarkably safe destination for travellers of all kinds. Renowned as one of the premier backpacking destinations globally, it boasts excellent facilities and a wealth of quality hostels catering to diverse needs. As a result, solo female travellers can feel confident exploring this vast and beautiful country. While Australia offers a safe environment, exercising caution and trusting your instincts is always wise, particularly when venturing at night.

If you’re new to solo travelling and have questions, consider perusing frequently asked questions about solo travel to gain valuable insights and tips.

Sign Coober Pedy

Memorable Experiences from Coober Pedy 

Look at that Moon!

As my friends and I gazed toward the horizon, exclamations like ‘Oh my God!’ and ‘What is that?’ escaped our lips. A mysterious half-round shape loomed in the distance, prompting incredulous questions: ‘Is that the moon?’ ‘Is it real?’ ‘You got to be kidding me!’

Swiftly, the realization dawned upon us—it was indeed the spectacular moon, a magnificent sight to behold. Hovering large and radiant, it casts a mesmerizing red glow, captivating our senses.

The sheer grandeur of the scene left us breathless. The moon, colossal and crimson, defied description. No photograph could capture the true essence of the moment we beheld. We parked our car on the highway’s edge, seizing the opportunity to immortalize the spectacle through countless snapshots.

This unforgettable encounter with the moon will forever be etched in our memories. In that fleeting instance, we were amazed witnesses to nature’s majesty. Grateful for experiencing such a remarkable moment, we marvelled at the beauty of the universe unfolding before our eyes.

Spotting a Wedge-Tailed Eagle

During a rather unfortunate situation on my recent road trip from Adelaide to Coober Pedy, I encountered a remarkable sight: a wedge-tailed eagle. The journey was marred by numerous road kills, predominantly wallabies and other wildlife littering the highways. The grim scene of carcasses strewn along the roadside provided an unexpected feast for the majestic wedge-tailed eagles while patient crows lingered at a distance.

It was a moment of firsts for me—I had never seen a wedge-tailed eagle before. These imposing birds, among the many native species of Australia, dominated the landscape with their commanding presence. However, I was taken aback by one unexpected aspect: their heads were surprisingly devoid of the expected hair or fur, appearing quite bald to my surprise.

I’d recommend Cage Diving with the Great White Sharks for adventurous people. It’s an exhilarating experience tailor-made for thrill-seekers like you.

Closing Notes

My journey from Adelaide to Coober Pedy stands out as one of Australia’s most cherished road trips. The allure of the outback and the unique charm of Coober Pedy left an indelible impression on me. I thoroughly relished every moment spent exploring this remarkable destination. Its unparalleled uniqueness makes it a must-visit for travellers seeking unforgettable experiences. I wholeheartedly recommend venturing to Coober Pedy to immerse yourself in its one-of-a-kind beauty and charm.

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    PIN for later reference – Road Trip from Adelaide to Coober Pedy

    PIN for later reference - Road Trip from Adelaide to Coober Pedy
    PIN for later reference – Road Trip from Adelaide to Coober Pedy