About Coober Pedy, ‘The Opal Capital of the World’

Coober Pedy is an opal mining town located in the harsh Outback of South Australia, some 850 kilometres north of Adelaide and 680 kilometres south of Alice Springs. It's a cosmopolitan town with a population of 2,500 and over 45 different nationalities. Coober Pedy is recognised as the largest producer of opal in the world with an estimated 70% of the world's precious opal being mined in the opal fields of the area.

The town is built in one of the hottest and most inhospitable climates in Australia – a landscape almost devoid of trees and vegetation where summer temperatures regularly reach 47 degrees. The climate is so hot; many people live in below-ground residences called "dugouts", which are built in this fashion to escape the oppressive summer heat.

Flights between Adelaide and Coober Pedy operate regularly with Regional Express Airlines. You can also drive from Adelaide and the journey takes around nine hours – or take a coach.

Working for the Department for Child Protection in Coober Pedy

The Coober Pedy office in the APY lands, is a diverse office with a combination of staff that were raised in the area, staff that have moved to Coober Pedy upon taking up a position with the Department and FIFO employees. The Coober Pedy office has a strong, workplace culture of supporting one another, and maintains good partnerships with other Government and non-Government agencies in town. This collaborative way of working helps the team build strong connections with the community, including the local Aboriginal Communities it serves.

Although renowned as a tourist destination, it is also a place families call home.

Schooling, Pre-school and Kindy and Childcare

Coober Pedy Area School is a complex and unique school ranging from Preschool to year 12 in the outback of South Australia. The co-educational school serves approximately 240 students in the area of which represent 49 different cultures with one third being made up of Aboriginal Students, and its nearest neighbours are 2, 3 and 5 hours away in each direction. The school incorporates a Child Parent Centre Pre-School on site, library, computer room and gymnasium.

In addition to the Coober Pedy Preschool which is a part of the Area School, Mini Gems Children's Centre is a Child Care Centre catering to children from the ages 0 - 5. The centre is conveniently located adjacent to the Coober Pedy Area School and feels that ALL parents have a right to quality child care that is sensitive to the needs of the child and is provided within a safe, caring and healthy environment.

Vocational Education & Universities

TafeSA has its own campus in Coober Pedy.

Employment Prospects in Coober Pedy

The service sector provides for a substantial share of jobs in Coober Pedy, in Health Care and Social Assistance, Tourism, Public Administration and Safety, Retail Trade and Education, which collectively account for almost three-quarters (71.5%) of local employment. The Health Care and Social Assistance sector employs more people than any other industry in Coober Pedy, accounting for almost 20% of all jobs compared to 9% of jobs across the wider Far North Region. Over half of these health care sector jobs (or 11% of total employment in Coober Pedy) are in Health Care Services, with the remainder (8% of total employment) in the Residential Care and Social Assistance sub-sector.

The public service is the third-largest provider of jobs in Coober Pedy (13% of the total). Coober Pedy’s Public Administration and Safety sector includes local government services (the District Council of Coober Pedy), police, fire protection and emergency services and other regulatory services.

The tourism industry is an amalgam of activities across various sectors including Retail Trade, Accommodation and Food Services, Arts and Recreational Services and Transport, Postal and Warehousing and Administrative and Support Services. The total value of Coober Pedy’s tourism output is estimated at $23.8 million, which is 14.5% of the value of Coober Pedy’s total output. Coober Pedy’s tourism industry is one of its largest employers, accounting for 18 per cent of local jobs (and 8% of jobs across the wider Far North Region).

The town itself is small and easy to get around. You can walk just about anywhere in the town in 10 minutes, and you’ll find most of the attractions dotted around the main street. There’s a large hill in the middle of the town, into which most of the underground motels are built. The town is full of bizarre and quirky sights. From unusual sculptures, the Big Winch, Umoona Opal Mine and Museum, and panoramic views, to underground homes, churches, campgrounds, hotels, cafes and shops. You can visit underground homes such as Crocodile Harry’s Underground Nest and Faye’s Underground Home or take a trip out to the Moon Plain and the Breakaways for some spectacular sights.

Community & Annual Events

  • Coober Pedy Opal Festival
  • Great Kanku – Breakways Marathon
  • Coober Pedy Races & Gymkhana

Parks and Sporting Facilities

Riba's Underground Camping & Caravan Park began in 1994. The first section was opened in 1997 and so began the only underground tent camping in the world. In 2004 extensions were completed to include individual camping areas plus underground budget rooms. Under the stars, it also offers both powered & unpowered sites. Free showers, enclosed BBQ cooking area & coin operated laundry are available.

Oasis Tourist Park is situated 100 metres from the centre of Coober Pedy – within easy walking distance of the supermarket, opal shops, post office and restaurants. It is a long way from the traffic noise of the Stuart Highway, is dog-friendly, has an iconic indoor swimming pool and its gates are locked at night for security. It offers unpowered and powered sites, some with water connection and some with ensuites, as well as cabins.

The local golf course – mostly played at night with glowing balls, to avoid daytime heat – is completely free of grass, and golfers take a small piece of "turf" around to use for teeing off. As a result of correspondence between the two clubs, the Coober Pedy golf club is the only club in the world to enjoy reciprocal rights at The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.

All of your day to day necessities are available locally including Banks, Shopping and Healthcare.

Banks

Westpac Bank has a branch in Coober Pedy. Other ATMs are located at the Opal Inn Hotel, Desert Cave Hotel, BP and Caltex service (fuel) stations.

Shopping

Coober Pedy has a range of shops (including opal shops, of course). Most of these are located in Hutchison Street, which is the town’s centre. There’s even an underground bookshop. There are two supermarkets in Coober Pedy, both located in Hutchison Street where fresh fruit and vegetables, bakery, meat and smallgoods and more, can be purchased from at the IGA supermarket. Stock is delivered 3 days a week.

Health Services for you & Your Family

The Coober Pedy Hospital is part of the Whyalla Eastern Eyre and Far North Health Services. Our hospital is a 24 bed facility with 14 acute beds, 10 high level residential aged care beds. Staff work in close partnership with community health services and Aboriginal health providers to ensure that optimum care is delivered to all areas of the community.

The Coober Pedy Community Health Centre is part of the Coober Pedy Hospital & Health Services, and offers a range of support services and early intervention programs.

The Umoona Tjutagku Health Service Aboriginal Corporation was established in 2005 to address the specific medical needs of the Aboriginal people in Coober Pedy. The organisation has expanded steadily over the past seven and a half years to provide a comprehensive range of medical, dental and social services for the community.

Housing in Coober Pedy

The early Coober Pedy dugouts were indeed the holes that had been dug in search for opal. Back then, opal mining was back breaking manual labour, so the earliest Coober Pedy homes were no bigger than they absolutely needed to be. These original basic dwellings have now developed to a point where luxurious underground homes have been planned and built. 60 per cent of Coober Pedy’s population live below the surface in these dugouts. The median house price in Coober Pedy is $100,000 and the weekly median advertised rent for the Coober Pedy region is $180. This is dependent on the size and location of the property.

Return to Working with us in Regional SA page to see benefits available in other regions. To see currently available regional opportunities go to the DCP Jobs Board.