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Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy, population 3,500, is a small town in South Australia, 846 kilometres north of Adelaide. It is self-described as the "opal capital of the world" and is indeed the largest source of this precious stone.

An abandoned space ship in downtown Coober Pedy

Located in the Australian outback, it is hundreds of kilometres from the nearest settlement. The harsh summer temperatures and the dominant industry mean that most residents live in caves bored into the hillsides and work underground in mine shafts. A standard 3 bedroom cave home with lounge, kitchen and bathroom can be drilled out of the rock in the hillside for a similar price to a house on the surface. It remains at a constant temperature whereas surface living needs air-conditioning, especially in the summer months when temperature can be in the 40s.

Some of the interesting attractions in Coober Pedy include the mines, the graveyard and the churches. The first tree ever seen in the town was welded together from scrap iron. It still sits on a hilltop overlooking the town. The golf course is completely free of grass and golfers take a small piece of "turf" around to use for teeing off.

It is a popular tourist destination and the countryside around Coober Pedy has featured as a backdrop to some movies including Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome and Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

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