How and why i decided to travelling on a Push-bike ?

How I got the idea

Martin in Honk Kong
It all started from this day, the 12 Tuesday of March 2013...
No wait, that date ! 29 August 2012, when I got lost in the huge airport of Hong Kong, with another French, Martin and we miss the plane to Australia, the journey begins !

Luckily, we got on the other plane without any cost, we had the afternoon free and we went to the city to have a look at Hong kong but that’s another story ! 

So I met Martin this Day.

Martin in Tasmania
6 month later, 
Martin join me in Tasmania, 
the 12 Tuesday of March 2013.
I was working in a Raspberry farm because all my money was gone, he contact me and join me in a raspberry picking farm. And there he told me that he would like to do a trip on a Bicycle along the Stuart highway , he was looking for some partners but he didn't meet anyone who would like to do that.
Since I heard of that, of course I was in, I always dream of Adventure.
After 10 days of work for a little payment, we decided to move and find a better job, but nothing was found.
Then we decided to do the Bicycle trek with the limited resources we had. We flight to Melbourne and hitch hike to Adelaide.


Where is the idea of the adventure from ?

Since several years, I dreamed of Travels and adventures, through the films, documentaries, musics and meet ups.

I have a thirst to discover and explore interesting new things. I like to go into the unknown.

I start hitchhiking in France since 18 years old, it is a way to experience the journey and adventure without the need of money.

I want to discover and learn by myself, to see with my own eyes, to experience things and make my own opinion.

Traveling is my school, before study or have a profession, we must first learn to know ourselves and the meaning of our lives.
my way of traveling, I put myself into the unknowns, I push myself to the limit and I try to go beyond it. That’s how I increase my self-esteem.

Getting into the unknown let us facing our inner demons with our best abilities.

Why on bicycle ?

First, I was certain to make this trip for a dream of adventures, my reasons to join this trip was :

Physical challenges, I am not fit and I try many times to do sport, but never keep regular and my greed for chocolate is not a good deal...Also I remember when I was younger, my parents forced me to hike or ride a bike, and I was complaining all the time.
Mental challenges, I want to know my abilities, to know how far are my limits and try to surpass it.

But mostly the fact to be free to move, travel ecologically, to get fit, and because I still possesses a good year ahead, I want to take my time to travel, explore each roadside and every trail and meet people throughout my journey.

Having time for me is very important for feel the Freedom. I met a lots of travellers who had a limited time and they had to make choices, compromise, miss opportunities.

How to make the most of my trip and my life ?

You can't buy Happiness, but you can buy a bike and that's pretty close
Since a while, I  heard people often told : "Make the most of it" ("Profite bien !" in french), every times I'm thinking about "how to make the most ?" I wasn't sure to did it...

During my ride, I still thinking about that because I wish to make the most of my trip. By peddling every day and some meetings I finally found to
 make the most is to takes time for make the right choice when the opportunities comes. that personally enriched spiritually and especially love.

taking times and taste some freedom.

Making the most of my trip traveling the roads on a bicycle.


What is expected

Explore the red centre/out back in a different way

 You can lose and find yourself in Australia's Red Centre, a place rich in Aboriginal culture and rugged outback beauty. You'll also find the sacred and natural wonders of Uluru(the heart of the outback beats.), Kata Tjuta, the MacDonnell Ranges and Kings Canyon.

Ride a push bike on the Stuart Highway

The Stuart Highway, between Port Augusta and Darwin, is known as Explorer's Way. Spanning 3,200 kilometres, it covers a vast magnificent country of arid lands in the south through Central Australia to the tropical Top End. The Highway is named after Explorer John McDouall Stuart who in 1862 was first to cross the continent.

The Stuart Highway is bitumen all the way since 1980 and intersects interesting towns like Woomera, Coober Pedy, Alice Springs and Katherine.

Long distance between each Service station, the most of them is Glendembo to Coober Pedy, 254 km.

Initial project

Ride on a push bike with Martin from Adelaide to Darwin.

But... Martin have opportunities to save a lots of miles if he will take a plane in France Soon.
His time become limited and we got 3 or 4 weeks to ride on the Stuart Highway with no experience.

Finally, after 3 days, Arrived in Port Augusta, I realize that we take the same road but not the same purpose. I would like Explore the Stuart Highway, take detours, avail of the opportunities, take days off for take rest and learn the history of the places, make meetings, take my time for enjoy each day. Then, I tell him " keep going without me, I need to stay here one day and take rest before to keep going." 

Ongoing Project

I become alone and was not sure to keep going by my self.  Apprehensive, I gone to the library and use the internet for tell my situation and looking for someone to join me. But I cant wait that someone join me for continue my travel so I decided to continue by my self and was the best decision for got the most freedom.

"Go where I want, when I want, in my rhythm."

"My journey is not to go to Darwin, but it ends in Darwin"

Other projects ?

I discover this passion for travel by bicycle, and I think to do the tour of Australia after arrival in Darwin.

Continue to travel by bicycle for a year in New Zealand
One day, a trip by bicycle tandem.
Traveling by bicycle with many people.

Final project



The Organization is major for this kind of trip

Start : 29 March 2013 in Adelaide

End : unknown

Preparation :
3 days on internet
wrote the water tank and how many kilometres between each town, roadhouse or rest area for planning how much food to carry

no training
no knowledge about bike
but Resourceful is my advantage

My trick is always thinking about the risks that can happen and to know a maximum of alternative.

Sleep in the bush, several metres side of the road
Tent, sleeping bag, stove, pot and matches.

Meals :
I thinking about this meals because its light in the bags and don't use water.
For breakfast and break :  slice of crunchy peanut butter with honey over.
For Lunch : Slice of tuna, cucumber and cheese and apple
Not Dinner

But after 2 weeks, I can't eat anymore breads every times...
(and the second packet of bread get mouldy...)

For Breakfast : slice of chocolate
Break : Slice of crunchy peanut butter with honey over
Lunch and Dinner : cans (pasta, beans) and
packet pasta/rice "continental" very light, takes very little space in the bag and quick to cook using little water.

Budget :

Equipment of departure 348 $ :

Bike in second hand shop : 140$
rear rack :40
2 bags side : 55
Bike computer : 20 (but break after 1 hour...)
Helmet : 9
pomp : 20
lock : 10
kit repair : 4
cycling short : 50

I still have 400 $ after bought all the stuff for feed me until Darwin...

New equipment in Port Augusta

Seat cover (30), because hip too painful
Net (10) because a lots of flies in the desert
Bike computer (20) !

New equipment in Coober Pedy

Front light and back light for ride during the night
spoon, fork and knife because the plastic fork was broken....
gourd for drink during paddling.

Martin's equipment : 120$

Bike : 76
Rear rack : 25
Helmet : 9
kit repair : 4
Pomp : 4
3 bags : 2 dollars

Indeed, we don't need to be rich or work a lots for travelling, if you like simple life.

The Beginning

The Good Friday

The day before I finally received my salary, We are glad that we can finally get to the adventure and starts much earlier than expected ...

Happy with my purchases, I want to try the bike computer, first test, I put it on the bike without the magnet beside the wheel ... I'm starting to think how work a bike computer while I watch it again, it is already gone ! I turned around immediately and I see it is already crush , I missed 2 minutes loans ... never mind, I'll see tomorrow !

After bought all the equipment, we agree to prepare to leave the next morning, we see that the screws to secure the rear rack are too small, for my part all of it .. We do a tour of the neighborhood, but is already closed ... never mind, we'll see tomorrow morning before heading out!

This long-awaited day arrived, after slept in a prosperous park (North Adelaide), in my lovely tent (Msr Hubba hubba) well against my bike... I wake up in chatting with the old men who make the walk in the morning to their dog. For now all okay. While I enjoy the very well maintained toilet that is when I perceive a small chocolate egg ... My nature prevails, I see chocolate, I look around me, I say thank you in looking at the sky, I pick it up, I feel it and I eat it. For now all okay.

while starting to look for screws as expected, we see that everything is closed ... The Good Friday... and for two days ! Can't wait 2 days after waiting for a while, we will find a solution ! talk to the people, I said.
In a parking lot, I perceive a landscape company, and I ask them if they can help us. Gentlemen, they fixe my bike with plastic cables to the four corners, and gave us a lots in reserve. Martin had two screws to the base and two plastic cable around the saddle.

          Ready ? 

      ... Never mind
   for my  bike  computer...

        Ok ! Lets go !

First day

2 pm Here we are on the road that leads to Port Augusta.

All going well until the plastics cables breaks. I appeal to martin he passes me the reserve and repair. after the second time, we start to be annoyed by .. this is produced four times in the day.
Things I want to say that again and I exclaim throughout the day, you will be able to Martin testifies, Feeling buttocks unbearable ! for 3 days, I could not sit still very long and dreamed of the next break.

That day, we stop in a service station to go to the toilet and the young man who enjoys working to tell us a few words in French, gave us the leftovers. that's when we decided that for the next evening we will aim service stations for free hot dinner.

First night in Dublin
We arrive in Dublin for the night and we install the tents near the service station. Martin was asleep that I don't want to miss the leftovers. I knock on the door, a woman saw me and left the room without any sign, and then a man came to speaks to me through the door, told me that this is closed without asking me what I want... when I exclaimed that I traveling on a bike and I am interesting by the leftovers to help me eat. he told me to join at the back and he gave me a bag with several sandwich, thighs of chickens and meat pies.

I come back at my tent proud of me and joyfully.

To Port Augusta

The following day, the pain in the buttocks and legs were getting worse.
We had the headwind, which is probably the worst difficulty with pain.

While we spend hard days that I remember every night are the meetings and small discovery of the day that I reminds:

The Second day, we go through Port Wakefield, A gas station you had an encounter with an Australian on holiday wishing repair my bike, so it looks a tool in his box and replace my cables in plastics by iron wires ! Yiiha!

Road train x2
Then we cross Lochiel or we take a break near a small chapel, opened with an exhibition of knitwear, I'll look into it and I'll chat with the locals. Woman then gave me the cross hop band, the specialty for easter Day ! then we can celebrate this day! I returned joyfully share this gift with Martin.

Arrived in Snowtown, we put the tent at the back of the service station and I got the leftovers after have a little chat with the nice man.

Arriving at Port Pirie
The Third day,
We got a shower at the roadhouse of Port Pirie.

what happiness !

We put the tent at the side of the service station and got again the leftovers !

I remember the last day before arriving in Port Augusta :

Along the way, we just smelt and see the corpses of foxes, owls and emus.
First hot day, and said heat ... said alot of flies ...
The landscapes are becoming more beautiful and we had the opportunity to see two living emus!

I remember seeing the fruit grows along the road wheel like a small watermelon. I exceed Martin and expresses enthusiasm, he answer me that these are fruits that people are thrown from cars ...-_-'

I'm waiting for the next show him again and he finds that Indeed fruit grows along the road ! Martin thank you for taking me for a fool x'D
Later I learned that these fruits are called "pademelon" (as the name of a type of wallaby in Tasmania) and it is a inedible fruit, anyway a growing roadside it should not be very healthy.

Port Augusta, close to service station
Arrived in Port Augusta, we did enjoy eating ice cream, we looking for a place to put the tents. It's getting dark, and it's time for leftovers, martin install for the tents while I take the bike in search of unsold, I try three service stations that had nothing to give. And I didn't want to return empty-handed, so I thought the places that sell hot foods, I try the supermarket but refused .. and then the gentleman from the security of a supermarket suggests me to ask the restaurant across the street . Apprehensive, I hesitated for several minutes and then I think I have nothing to lose, so I go and ask if they have some leftovers. Negative, disappointed, I am ready rode my bike when a young man of the restaurant took me back, they cook me a wonderful dinner. I come back at the tent with Success and share the Delicious Pasta with Martin. This time, Free Yami takeaway and not a leftovers !

The next day we split up because he needed to go, pressed for time, and I needed my rest, and take time to travel. 

Let's go on the Stuart Highway...

Encouraged, advised and reassured by Andre, I then continue from now a as single woman. (a French touring cyclist who started from Melbourne until Darwin and continues his journey in Indonesia ! his touring blog : Http://

Surprisingly, I take great pleasure by my self, I take breaks when I need it, I leave when I feel it, and cycling in my rhythm.

I appreciate every moment if I take the time that I need.

I had finally tasted the freedom !

Arid zone

 Meetings multiplies suddenly on this deserted road.

The meetings then multiplies in the Roadhouses, rest area and on the road.

Talking friendly accompanied by fresh water, hot drinks, beer, wine, or foods. Very nice to take a break in a wonderful setting with some company !

First night with a intensely colored sunset.
Who said that the Stuart Highway was flat ?

You smell before to many....sickened !

Wedge Tail Eagle, I also got my wings !

The Opportunities

After two days of cycling, I arrived in Pimba, when I had a refusal to retrieve leftovers, a couple of friends of quarantines years offered me to join them, Mladen and Christine. Sharing their food and wine, we had a very nice talking, that's when they invite me to sleep in them house in Woomera which is near the village. for giving me a bed and a shower !

Before bedtime they said: "We suggest you will join us for the weekend in Adelaide, you let all your stuff here and you'll have no costs to make, we will pay you everything's" I don 'have nothing to lose, so I jumped at the chance to get acquainted with them and have a good time.

Then I saw my last 5 days cycling in one day by car ...
When they took me to the beach, I set foot in the water having a strange feeling to see an ocean and the desert in the same day ...

We then returned to Woomera after this weekend very nice, I feel that I need to continue my trip, and I do. I left with a big hug, Nice time and lovely people. (they offered me $ 350 to help me finance this unusual journey, thank you so much for that, it will help me later !!)

First Pastel

Pimba to Coober Pedy, The crossing of the desert.

Back at Pimba, I met Mark and Phil who also ride until Darwin. Then they invite me to share the road together until Coober Pedy.

They make a fire every evening and every morning, I never do, and its a shame, the fire is the TV of the bush (with the sky), Gorgeous, Relaxing, Convivial, reheating and a way to cook ecologically

With them, I realized that it was important to take time to rest pleasantly daily.

But When we are alone, we live very differently. and sometimes we tend to deprive themselves of some pleasure.

Alone, as a single woman, I don't want to make fire because I want to keep my discretion and therefore my security.
 It was three days as a real physical challenges for succeed to follow them.
The third day, we separated because I had too sore from the day before when I had too forced my body and Can't forced any more. While we decided to meet again in Coober Pedy. 
That day, we left the camp at 3.30am, Separated 10 km later, I continued in the dark and saw the biggest shooting star that I had ever seen, was smily for a while !
More pictures :

Glendembo, Had a shower !  

Fingerprint : Kangaroo, Emu and human

The meetings continuous...

   Then I first met Michael, he stop along the way to refill my water bottles and give me fresh oranges! (I will meet him several times)
During the day,  I met a couple traveling on a bike starting from Alice Springs and down to Port Augusta. and Then two Dutch girl in a van, stopping to fill my water bottles.
After 65 km done in the morning, tired, headwind, I take my lunch and I Took a siesta on the ground under the shade of the rest area. When I woke up I met Jacob, an American traveling by hitch hiking That I will see again in Coober Pedy.
No one tree during hundred km...

My second and last shed of the day
Sunset time,  finally I attained Coober Pedy ! I join Mark and Phil and they congratulated me. I took a wonderful shower and we sharing pizza and beer before to take a good rest on a bed !

Coober Pedy, the opal capital of the world

Sleep Underground


The first night, I wish a good rest after the hard days that I had with a lots of muscles pain.
Struggling to fall asleep because of the Germans who talk loudly. Have to ask them to talk lower at 22h...and woken up many times at night and more the morning when the people leave without discretion...
For 35 $ a night, shared room with noisy roommates, a foam mattress and sleep in sleeping bag, wasn't satisfying.
An other night :
$ 15 to put the tent underground, with showers, toilets and barbecue ... it was reasonable.
Still tired and not recovered of the muscles pains, I hoped to have a good sleep. But not lucky, again noisy roommates ! between the children's laugh and the backpackers who swell their mattresses when people fall asleep ... Honestly I could lose my temper this evening ... but I breathed and only moved my tent as far as possible...

The Food Paradise 1

What a joy to have the choice of so many foods, after making every meal a base of bread, I offer myself a breakfast, yogurt and muesli with milk! what a treat ! : P

It was offering me several meals at John's pizza bar, and once at the bakery ; What regale !
I can't count the delicious milk teas we was offering me too.

Pizza, Hot chocolate, yogurt, milk, tea.. Feels good !

The beginning of the technical problems

First day : my both wheels was flat, I go searching spare tubes and every 5 to 10 minutes, I had to pump for keep moving. But that's ok, Coober Pedy is small. I didn't found the right tubes, but She'll be right ;)

I woke up and started to ride when I felt that the wheel has a very strong regular friction. I didn't know where it come from absolutely, Harry spends at the right time and told me that I have a broken spoke, I then discovered the use of the spokes ! He tries to fix it, not any more friction but still has a few centimetres near .. There is no bike shop here, Harry puts the bike in backlog of his pickup and took me in different places to find a solution, nothing ... I start to stress... but finally I was reassure, the wheels was not straight but don't rubs any more, so I will fix in Alice Springs.

Later, my left pedal goes a squeak very strongly, and I didn't have the tools to repair, but no worries, the Residents are so helpful and a man from a service station help me to fix it backed up by Andre.

The meetings

- Disappointed, first meeting with an aboriginal drunk, he touched my breast and ask me sex...

- an Aboriginal child of 11 years, Stevie, seeing that I'm trying to fix something on my bike, offers his help and then, put the news spare tubes, very nice boy :)

- Front of the shop, I first met Steve, An aboriginal of 37 years, kind and friendly, I asked him to teach me the first two words you need to know in his own language: PALYA(Good, yes, welcome..) and WIRE(no). After, he gave me his sandwich with insistence and suggest to stay in his house underground, but I refuse explaining that as a single woman, there are things I can't accept. He understood and was very friendly the other times.

- Harry and Will, 2 Australians of passaging who have some forty years old and offered me to join them at 6 pm at John's Pizza Bar for offer me the dinner, and suggest to camp with them.
I met a man from Finland and I see again Jacob(the American who hitchhike, I met on the last rest area before CP). We join all together to share pizza with Harry and Will. It was very nice!
Jacob camped with me behind the police station for more security and
to share a very pleasant discussion. Very nice man. :)

- A man who lives in a caravan south of C.P while building his own underground home. He showed me a dingo longer watching us, then he told me that this is a Dingo, have sores and remaining around the city for food and come over here usually. First time I saw a Dingo !

He offer me to stay safely in his place any time I wish.

Then, I go to the discovery of Opals Shop by curiosity, but also to meet the locals ! Pleasantly surprise, several welcome friendly, some, invite me to join them to sit and take tea. Some have also offered me of Opal pendants, appropriate remembrance of the town.

- Vranci Opal shop, Croatia, A kind Man who did a very nice terrace with vegetation that attracts some pretty Honey eater birds :) he wish me welcome in his terrace any time with a nice milk tea :) 

- Peter from the Mobil Service Station was very impressive, enthusiastic and very generous, he give me a lots of energy and encouragement.

- Greek people, lots of  Opal miners/shops from Grece in Coober Pedy.

Coober Pedy,  Antakarinja country

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. 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.

Approximately 150 million years ago the ocean covered the Coober Pedy region. For thousands of years the Antakirinja Matuntjara Yankunytjatjara People belonged to and walked across this area of land. In 1975 the Aboriginal Community adopted the name “Umoona” meaning long life.

The Coober Pedy Precious Stones Field, from which the opal is mined, covers an area of 4,954 square kilometres of which it is estimated that approximately 10% of the total area has been worked.

Today with a population of approximately 3,500, Coober Pedy has one of the most multicultural communities in Australia with an estimated 45 nationalities.

Whilst living conditions were harsh with water and provisions being carted great distances, today the town water supply comes from an underground source 24 kilometres north of town. The water is pumped through an underground pipeline to the water works where it is treated by reverse osmosis.

The Stuart Highway was completed in 1987 and now allows a comfortable yet lengthy drive through Central Australia. Coober Pedy is serviced daily by coach services and 6 days a week with Regional Express Airlines. Tourism and mining are the driving economic forces in the town.

Coober Pedy caters to all and is a place unlike anywhere else.


 The Opal – Coober Pedy’s passion In 1915, the New Colorado Gold Prospecting Syndicate, consisting of a Mr. Jim Hutchison, his 14 year old son William, a Mr. Winch and a Mr. McKenzie had been unsuccessfully prospecting for gold out here in the middle of South Australia. The young lad, Willie had been left in camp to look after their supplies but disobeyed orders and wandered off to search for water around the foothills of a nearby range. There was a degree of apprehension among the men when he failed to turn up after dark. But a short time later, he strode into camp with a grin on his face. Over his shoulder was slung a sugar bag full of opal. Now this was a very fortuitous find for the young William – not only did he come across the opal, but he also discovered something equally as precious out here – a supply of good fresh water. This was on the 1st February 1915 - 8 days later, they pegged the first opal claim.

The catalyst for Coober Pedy’s existence had been discovered. Word of the find spread quickly and by the middle of 1916, miners had moved to the area. Young Willie did not live long enough to see the fruits of his discovery. He drowned five years later while driving cattle across the Georgina River, on the Birdsville Track. Construction workers from the trans continental railway, followed by soldiers returning from World War 1 came to the opal fields. They introduced a unique method of living underground in "dugouts". It’s claimed these soldiers, come miners, were used to digging and living in trenches, they knew the advantages to be found in the even cool temperatures of the dugout. Given Coober Pedy is one of the hottest places on earth to live, it only seemed logical. Several major discoveries continued to be made, so in 1920 the local Progress Committee decided that the field should have a proper name.

After much deliberation the choice fell on Coober Pedy. The most widely accepted translation is thought to be the Aboriginal words Kupa Piti which loosely means “White Man in water hole”. Water – Coober Pedy’s problem I’d suggest that many of the miners wished they were in a water hole. Lack of water, which often had to be re-used many times before being discarded, was always a problem in Coober Pedy. Water and provisions had to be trucked in great distances, under incredibly difficult conditions. The water problem became so bad that in 1924 the Government decided to build a 2,000,000 litre steel water tank to catch a bit of rainfall runoff. The only problem was, there was no rain until 1925 to put any water in the tank. The town got a much more reliable supply in 1985. The water supply now comes from an underground source 24 kilometres north of the town. The treatment and pumping process make this some of the most expensive town water in the world.
Field of dreams The 1950s miners began experimenting with the open cut method of mining and then in the 60s, all mines became increasingly more mechanised, with blowers and trucks, conveyer belts – shafts that got deeper – down to about the 30m level. Interestingly large companies have never operated in the area. Mainly due to the fact that a miner can only take out a lease of 50 square metres and then they’re obliged to operate for 20 hours a week. Some argue that this has slowed progress in the town.

Development has come a distant second to the need to find opal. The Dog Fence But in amongst the mines and the mullock heaps, runs one of the lesser known achievements of the modern age, the longest man made structure in the world. It stretches 5,614 kilometres. It was established in 1946 to keep the Dingo away from the merino. The fence begins east of Surfer's Paradise in Queensland, and ends up north of Ceduna in the Great Australian Bite. Back in 1989 vast tracks of it were washed away in the floods. They reckon 20,000 sheep were killed by dingoes while it was down, which gives you a fair idea what happens when they do get in. The economic benefit of the fence far outweigh the disadvantage. Quite frankly - no fence, no sheep.

Being underground During the 1960's, the mining industry expanded rapidly due to the many European migrants who came to seek their fortunes. There were over forty different nationalities in Coober Pedy which created a few dilemmas. When it was decided to build a church in the 1960s the idea was to build one church shared by all. In true pioneering spirit, everyone pitched in to build what is believed to be the world’s first underground church.

Opal fever has ensured that Coober Pedy continues to attract unique characters, all of whom have been seduced by the glow of a great opal. Various levels of professionalism are required to find opals. But if it’s your time, then the opal gods will shine. And it’s that “special feeling” that a hidden treasure lies just behind the next layer of rock that keeps bringing people to Coober Pedy. It’s definitely an Australian icon town and it’s all about the opals.

Courtesy of : SA Tourism and SA History


The first purpose built Underground Catholic Church of its type in the world opened June 25 1967 and extensions completed September 1984.
It still remains Australia's only purpose built underground Catholic Church and is classified a historical site in Coober Pedy, South Australia. Special features of the church include the bell tower, St Anthony's Window, the Jasper stone altar and sanctuary, and the Holy Picture of Marija Pomagaj.

A unique church, Catacomb Underground Church was dug out in the mid 1970s and dedicated by the Anglican Church thereafter. It is very quiet and a great place to meditate, pray, or just sit and be still. There is a regular Sunday service with an average attendance of 40 people from nine denominations, and visitors are most welcome. The interior of the church is natural rock, coated with sealer to stop it getting dusty. It features an actual windlass from an old mine site, and two Caldwell drill holes that open to the sky. These help give visitors an idea of what it is like from the base of the two million-odd holes around Coober Pedy. The temperature in the church is 24 to 27 degrees Celsius all year round which is one of the reasons why so many people live underground.


The Serbian Orthodox Church in the South Australian outback opal mining town of Coober Pedy has the very unorthodox distinction of being underground.
But despite a slowing in the region's fortunes, the community says the church is far from buried.

We're keeping the maintenance, it costs us lot of money, lot of effort, but thanks to the community of the Serbian people and thanks to all other people because other Australians come help us,” said Milomir Belosevic, President of Coober Pedy Serbian church.
"German, even Croatian, Muslim, everybody we ask to help us they come to help us."

The window that appears ground level on the outside actually soars 20 feet over the church within. With its stained glass windows, dirt walls, and ornately carved statues, the church may well be from biblical times.

But perhaps more telling of the church’s age is the portrait of Ratko Mladic which hangs unassumingly in the church hall. The Bosnian Serb and former military leader is being tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"He's in the prison now but he still is not find guilty, therefore we cannot judge. Let the court judge it," Mr Belosevic said.

There were hopes that the massive excavation for the church and hall may pay for itself with an opal find, but that hope has been dashed.

“We don't find nothing and we still stayed working voluntary and for nothing,” said Stojan Garlic Treasurer of Coober Pedy Serbian Community.

It turns out tourists are the windfall.
The church charges tourists $5 per person to support renovations and the ongoing running of the church, and these days, there are more visitors to the church than parishioners.

Since its priest passed away a few years ago, locals unable to find a replacement have conducted their own services.

It's hard to get a priest to come out in the desert and live in the desert, you know what I mean?” said Luka Belosevic, Vice President Serbian church. “Most of them like a nice house, a nice car, things like that.”

Priests are flown in for special occasions such as the anniversary, to be graced by the Serbian Patriarch from Belgrade. It's expected to attract thousands from across Australia.

The community's now striving to create St Elijah Park with more than 600 fruit trees to mark the event.


Located in a beautiful desert garden, is Faye's famous Underground Home. The original one room home housed the first mail truck driver over sixty years ago. It was converted by Faye Nayler and two other women, using only picks and shovels, into a kitchen and bedroom. Later five other rooms were added including a wine cellar and a swimming pool.