Did you ever look at a piece of opal jewelry and admire its beauty? Did you know, the chances are good that that opal gem came from Coober Pedy, a southern Australian town known as the “Opal Capital of the World.” If you are a fan of the reality show “The Amazing Race,” you may remember seeing Coober Pedy in the second season.
Opal was first discovered in Coober Pedy, population 3,500, in 1915. The name of the town comes from the Aboriginal term “kupa piti” which means “white man in a hole.” Why would the town have such a name? That is because all the residents live in caves and work underground, mining the opals. The reason the residents live underground is due to the high summer temperatures (between 100 and 120 degrees). The average home in Coober Pedy has three bedrooms, a lounge, kitchen, and bathroom. The underground housing remains at a constant temperature, so no air-conditioning is required. Just as Coober Pedy can get hot in the summer, winters can be equally as cold.
Coober Pedy has two main industries that help support it – the opal mining and tourism. Visitors to Coober Pedy like to check out the opal mines, the graveyards, and even the underground churches. The local golf course has no grass – golfers take a small piece of grass around with them on which to tee off. Coober Pedy even has something I wish my town did – a drive in! They show four movies per month.
I saw a special on Coober Pedy on the Travel Channel then low and behold, a little segment about it showed up on Sesame Street and I was fascinated. Since I hate to fly, I doubt I will ever make it to Australia, but I think this would be a neat little town to visit.
To find out more about Coober Pedy, check out their town home page.