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Opal Mining Town in Australia

Aug 17, 2007
In the harsh Outback of South Australia, some 850 kilometres north of Adelaide and 680 kilometres south of Alice Springs is an opal mining town called Coober Pedy. It is recognised as the largest producer of opal in the world with an estimated 70 percent of the worlds precious opal being mined in the opal fields here.

The town is known as the opal capital of the world because what are widely regarded as the most precious opals are mined here. The name Coober Pedy comes from the local Aboriginal term kupa piti, which means white man in a hole.

It was named after John McDouall Stuart, and was called the Stuart Range Opal Field who in 1858 was the first European explorer in the area. In 1920 it was re named Coober Pedy. During the 1960s, the mining industry expanded rapidly due to the many European migrants who came to seek their fortunes. The 60's and 70's saw opal mining develop into a multi million dollar industry with Coober Pedy developing into a modern mining town.

There are more than a quarter million mine shafts in the area, and visitors are warned to be on the look out for them when travelling alone as if you fall into one you could remain undiscovered for days.

Some of the interesting attractions in Coober Pedy include the graveyard the mines, and the underground churches. The first tree ever seen in the town was welded together with scrap iron. It still sits on a hilltop overlooking the town. The local golf course where most of the games are play at night with glowing balls, to avoid daytime temperatures is completely free of grass and golfers take a small piece of turf around to use for teeing off.

Most of the population of Coober Pedy now live underground. A good, new underground house in Coober Pedy with five rooms can be constructed by a tunnelling machine for around 25 000 Australian Dollars. The reason for living under ground is that the temperature can rise to 50C in summer.

The Desert Cave Hotel allows you to experience dug out style living, underground shops, bar and opal display areas all within sandstone surrounds in the heart of Coober Pedy.

Coober Pedy Underground Catacomb Anglican Church is the towns famous Underground Catacomb Anglican Church which is a unique expression of the materials and activities of the local area. The altar is made like a winch and both the crucifix and the lectern are made out of mulga wood. Behind the altar are two air vents.
About the Author
Douglas Scott works and writes for The Car Hire Specialist. and is a free lance writer for The Coober Pedy Rental Site
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