Sunday, July 17, 2011 , at 1:06 AM
The opal town of Coober Pedy, 535 kilometres north of Port Augusta in South Australia, has always held a strange fascination for many Australians, not that a high proportion of them have ever been there.
Coober Pedy is a place like Oodnadatta, farther north along the Oodnadatta Track, which skirts the normally waterless Lake Eyre, whose name conjures stretches of arid desert, marvelous rock and sand formations, and a natural stillness that speaks of vast distances and solitude.
What differentiates Coober Pedy from any number of Outback towns in Australia is the fact that it lies in the country's best-known opal region and about 1500 of its people (roughly half its population of around 3000) live up -- or down! -- to its Aboriginal name: Coober Pedy, usually translated as "whitefella’s (white man's) hole in the ground."
Another reason why Coober Pedy is famous is that this town produces 70% of the world’s opal. This is why it is known as the ‘opal capital of the world’. Coober Pedy’s bizarre underground houses and opal mines have attracted tourists from around the world as well as film makers