So, you are interested in visiting the "Wild West" town of Coober Pedy!
Opal Capital of the World
Australia's biggest and best known opal town dates back to 1915 when a teenager (William Hutchison ), stumbled on the "Surface Opal Nobbies" while gold prospecting with his father. The First mining claim was pegged on 9th February 1915 and in 1956 the largest precious opal gem in the world named "Olympic Australis" was found. Today there are many opal producing fields in and around Coober Pedy which are all located within a 50km radius of the town.
Nearly half of the population live in inexpensive undergound homes called 'dugouts'. It therefore make the Aboriginal name for Coober Pedy 'White Man's burrow' particularly apt.
Many of the dugouts are elaborate with all modern conveniences and sustain an all year temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. During the height of Summer temperatures can reach into the 50's outside whilst in winter the temperatures can fall below 10 degrees. Most of the year it is glorious weather--one day beautiful perfect the next, averaging mid 20's. The annual rainfall is only 110mm making water as precious as the opal that is mined.
The town is situated at the edge of the Stuart Range on a treeless plain, which is covered with only sparse scrub and thousands of working and abandoned mines as far as the eye can see. This desolate landscape was obviously why Coober Pedy is chosen for the shooting of many feature movies. These include: Mad Max one, two and three, Beyond Thunderdome, (starred Tina Turner and Mel Gibson), Mars The Red Planet (starred Val Kilmer (Batman)), Pitch Black , Down & Under and many others.
The mysterious lunar landscape makes Coober Pedy a unique and special place where you could arrive with just the shirt on your back and leave a millionaire. Many people have found opal whilst walking around, kicking stones over, or noodling (fossiking) in the disused mining dumps.
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