Coober Pedy (29.07.2012): Today we awoke from our rest stop to continue the 150km drive to Coober Pedy passing through the Breakaways mountain range. I am not getting the hang of this outback camping with no toilets. So much easier for men!
Coober Pedy is something else. It is the strangest place I have ever been - in a good way. Extremely quirky. I felt like I was on another planet. It is a place where both the terrain and the temperatures are so extreme that homes - even post offices and churches - have been built underground. The town is full of unusual sculptures, buildings, weird signs and even has a drive in cinema (which we wanted to go to but it is only on every 2nd second, typically it was on yesterday when we were supposed to arrive).
The town exists due to the discovery of opal in 1915: It is the world's major supplier. Our first stop after exploring the main street was to visit the Big Winch Lookout for view over the town. We then visited the Unoona Opal Mine and Museum, a free attraction that explained the history of Coober Pedy. Afterwards we went on a tour of the Old Timers Mine (Adam's birthday present from his sister). We wore hard hats and went on a self guided tour of the old mine as well as a underground home. The mine still contains millions of dollars worth of opal.
The tour was cool but it left us with an urge to go mining so we headed for the public noodling area where we spent a good view hours hunting for opal. We left with some small bits of opal - a German girl found a piece worth 15,000 dollars last week in the same spot. Sadly we were not as lucky but at least we didn't leave empty handed.
As darkness fell we headed 2km down the road to Riba's Underground Campsite. You can camp underground if you have a tent but sadly they would not allow our wee campervan underground so we camped under the stars in an amazing setting overlooking all the working mines.