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Coober Pedy Opals

Opals from Coober Pedy an Australian outback town.


Ask any Australian where Coober Pedy is and what happens there, and they will most likely tell you that it is the middle of Australia somewhere and it is where opals come from.  Some who are more enlightened will tell you that the people there live underground.


What’s that you say?  They live underground?  Why would anyone want to do that?

Coober Pedy comes from the local Aboriginal dialect and means something like “White man in a hole.”  That’s what the Aboriginals saw the white men doing, digging holes and going down them looking for precious opal.  They found it too and it started an opal rush which is still alive and well even though opal prices have fallen and the stuff is a lot harder to find these days.


Yes the inhabitants really do live underground!  The reason is simple.  Coober Pedy is almost a treeless desert region with little water and tremendous temperatures.  If you were standing in a summer temperature of 50 degrees or more you would feel like doing what all the lizards and animals do – dig a hole and get in it.


Mining equipment is available so excavating into the side of a small mountain or underground is not so difficult as your mates will help you. If you are lucky the earth below ground will be stable and just need some sealer to keep it dust free.  It is cool and if you want to add a room for that new child then just make your hole bigger.  You can still have windows and doors and electricity and water.


I spoke to Dean Bulovic a second generation miner whose family originates from Serbia and he proudly tells me that his home is high quality living and there is over 500 square feet of it.  He has natural light coming into his kitchen and life is good.


The downside is that this isolation costs the highest that anyone will pay for water, electricity and some other services in Australia.
Coober Pedy is responsible for some of the best and most beautiful opals and opal jewelry in the world.  Have a look at some of the opals and opal jewelry made in Coober Pedy on the site and you too might want to go visit Coober Pedy and you might stay for the rest of your life like a lot of other visitors.


Author: Gary Hocking

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