Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Coober Pedy Township

Coober Pedy is the "Opal Capital of the World" so we thought it only fitting that we start our exploring with a tour of an opal mine. Since the town is basically made up of opal mines it wasn't too difficult to find the one pictured below.

Notice how arid it looks in the first photo? Water is so scarce here that the whole township is like this without a blade of grass in site, and very few trees. We must look like a couple of idiots driving around with what looks like a surfboard but is actually a folding boat (even worse?) on the top of our car!

We took a self guided tour which explained how the opals are dug out, and saw a few impressive specimens of opals and opalised shells. Plus we got to wear groovy hardhats...

Not only is water scarce, but it gets extremely hot here. So much so that there are underground hotels, restaurants, camping spots and even many underground houses. In fact, it's said that Coober Pedy was named after the Aboriginal phrase "Kupa Piti" meaning "Whitefellow Burrow". Below is an example of an underground house.

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