Hot spot is definitely the word to describe some of Coober Pedy’s local attractions. If you’ve never been to Coober Pedy, the self-described opal capital of the world that sits halfway between Adelaide and Alice Springs, the one thing you need to know is that it gets hot, like really hot. On a 50-degree day, this 100-year mining town shuts down and its townspeople hunker down in their underground abodes.
That’s right. The people of Coober Pedy live underground.
Known as dugouts, underground homes are built into the side of red dirt mounds, only visible by the pipes which act as air vents poking up from the rocky terrain. It’s believed that around 65 percent of the town’s residents reside underground. And after being in Coober Pedy on an almost-40 degree day it’s easy to see why. The dugouts offer a cold hit of relief, like walking into an air-conditioned movie theatre.
Speaking of movie theatres, the dugouts are the main reason why tourists from all over the world flock to this remote, offbeat town, in the heart of Australia’s desert region, and why so many movies (Mad Max, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Pitch Black) have been filmed there. The vastness and beauty of the landscape is the reason why it was chosen to be a backdrop on our most recent undies campaign, Bonds Originals.
While on location for the campaign shoot, the Bonds Marketing team scoped out a few of town’s local hot spots, which are a must-visit if you ever happen to plan a central Australia stop-off at one of our country’s most unique and unforgettable destinations.
COOBER PEDY OPAL FIELDS GOLF COURSE
As the only golf course in the world to have reciprocal rights to the home of golf at St. Andrews in Scotland, the Coober Pedy golf course is arguably the town’s most famous hot spot. With 18 holes and zero grass, bar a patch of artificial turf you carry around to tee off from, it also offers a lot of humour with its iconic ‘Keep off the Grass’ sign.
CROCODILE HARRY’S NEST & DUGOUT
Arguably the most famous dugout in Coober Pedy once belonged to Captain Harry, a once crocodile hunter (Crocodile Dundee was based on him) and notorious local personality, who died in 2006. His home has since been transformed into a cave of tribal graffiti, primitive art, and mementos. Many tourists leave souvenirs from their home countries and leave them behind so there is a collection of items from all over the world including everything from photos, bras, undies, flags, and personal ID cards.
OUTBACK BAR & GRILL
One of the best restaurants in town, locals meet up there regularly. Upgraded recently to have a beer garden, the Bonds marketing team and their filming crew had over 5 meals there in one week alone! The Outback Bar & Grill provided one of the pivotal backdrops for the Originals campaign imagery.
JOSEPHINE’S GALLERY & KANGAROO ORPHANAGE
Located on the main street of Coober Pedy, Josephine's Gallery & Kangaroo Orphanage is passionately committed to rescuing and raising orphaned baby kangaroos. Visitors are welcome to wander through the impressive Aboriginal Art Gallery, shop from a beautiful collection of opals and, of course, pat the kangaroos.
FAY’S UNDERGROUND HOME
If you’re curious as to how people really live in Coober Pedy, a great example belongs to Faye Nayler, who sadly passed away in 2015. What began as a one-room dugout over 60 years ago, has since been expanded into an impressive six-room residence (plus a swimming pool!) using only pick and shovels by Faye and her two female friends.