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In the remote South Australian desert, where temperatures are known to reach 125 °F / 51 °C in the shade, lies a town named Coober Pedy (literally ‘white man’s hole’), where residents have dug themselves underground to escape the blistering heat. Once the largest opal mining operation in the world, Coober Pedy is now a peculiar site where chimneys rise from the sand and signs warn people of unmarked holes in the ground.
Coober Pedy was founded during the early part of the 20 th century, as a result of the discovery of opals, a valuable gemstone, in the area. Opal mining is such a huge industry in Coober Pedy that it is still known also as the ‘opal capital of the world’.
History - Coober - Pedy - Beginning - Year
The history of Coober Pedy may be traced back to 1915. In the beginning of that year, the New Colorado Prospecting Syndicate had been prospecting for gold just south of Coober Pedy. This syndicate, which consisted of Jim Hutchison, his 14-year-old son, William, and two other associates, had set up camp after their unsuccessful prospection. On the 1 st of February, as the men went to search for water, William came across several pieces of opal on the surface of the ground. As a consequence of this discovery, the town of Coober Pedy was born.
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Coober - Pedy - Stuart - Range - Opal
Initially, Coober Pedy was named as the Stuart Range Opal Field. This was to honour John McDouall Stuart, a Scottish explorer who was the first European to have explored this part of Australia, in 1858. Several years later, in 1920, the place was renamed as Coober Pedy, an Anglicised version of the Aboriginal ‘kupa piti’, which is commonly said to mean ‘white man in a hole’. Since William Hutchison’s discovery of the first opal pieces in...
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