The town that has been supplying 80% of the country’s mined opal can be found in Flinders Ranges. The city name is Coober Pedy- the opal capital of the world. It’s 846 km north of Adelaide and a home to 3,500 residents of diverse ethnicities. Accordingly, there were few residents in the place prior to the discovery of opal. Regardless of the ranging hot temperature, migrants in city retained their Flinders Ranges accommodation hoping to find fortune in opal mining. Mining began as early as 1915 when a four-year old boy found an opal in the area. Currently, opal mining is still ongoing and the old mining places have been given great importance to the place. One will find three pioneering mining spots in the city namely The Old Timers Mine, Faye’s Underground Home and Opal Mine and Umoona Opal Mine and Museum
The Old Timers Mine was established in 1916. It is one of the Flinders Ranges attractions that become a part of South Australia’s leading tourist attraction. The museum conveys much about the early mining field of the place. It displays underground houses of miners, information galleries, and collections of opal jewelry. The galleries depicts how pioneer miners struggle to drill down for opals. There were sculptures of pioneer miners doing specific chores. Among the sculpted old miners are Jim O´Neill, George Burford, Ben Mohr, Mick O´Reilly, Bob Trow, Carl Wills, Ron Gough and Minnie Berrington. The place features the gallery of Ron Gough who fathered opal mining in the city. Varieties of opals dug from the location are displayed like the seam gray opal, the horizontal pocket of crystal opal, the pocket of potch and colour left by old miner, and also the opalized sea shells. One can also see the hand-made shaft, the walls manually dig by hand using the old digging tools, the dirt or mullock and backfilled shaft. The museum also houses the ancient tools that were utilized in the mine such as cow buckets, windsocks that ventilated the mine, and windlass. The museum alsohas an opal shop for tourists who want to buy souvenirs.
Adjacent to Old Timers Mine is Faye’s Underground Home and Opal Mine. Initially, it was a small hole resulted from an excavation for mining an opal. It later became a room for mail truck driver. In 1961, a lady named Faye Nayler who moved to the town as a cook purchased the place. She then developed the room with the help of two other women. The three women utilized shovels and pick to expand the room adding three bedrooms, kitchen, wine cellar and swimming pool. The house is well ventilated with shafts. There’s no need to utilize air conditioners during daytime and heaters during nighttime since the underground house provides a steady heat of 20-25 deg. The house is presently managed by Colin McClean and his wife. The McCleans opens the house to guests.
One will see Umoona Opal Mine and Museum in the main street of Coober Pedy. It displays opal cutting and polishing, genuine underground houses, South Australia fossil, wide range of opal jewelry for sale, postcards and souvenirs. One can see the 20-minute documentary of opal mining history in the spot. Underground homes dug by hand and by machineries are also displayed. There are also historic photographs exhibited in the area. There are also exhibit of authentic old paintings and artifacts by locals.
Be part of Coober Pedy’s opal mining history. Visit the underground museums of historical opal mining places in the city. Moreover,, discover how the residents live underground by staying in one of Flinders Rangers accommodations built underground.