Friday, July 13, 2007
Continuing our Big Thing odyssey... We encountered our next Biggie around a week after the Rocking Horse in the remarkable town that is Coober Pedy. Located around 850km north of Adelaide bang in the middle of nowhere, Coober Pedy is famous for its opal mining industry, and it is widely regarded that the finest opals in the world are mined there.
The harsh summer temperatures mean that most residents live in underground caves bored into the hillsides. A standard three 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. These underground houses remain at a constant temperature of around 25 degrees C, whereas surface living needs air-conditioning, especially during the summer months, when the temperature often exceed 40 degrees. Indeed, it was around 50 degrees when we visited. Hot as you like!
Given some free time to explore the town we headed straight towards the Big Miner, as you do. Given the excitement of finding yet another Big Thing, we both had a go at imitating this one, myself above, and Mr Poll below.
It really is a nutty town, given the heat and underground homes. We also visited an underground church and underground bar, complete with underground pool room and underground kareoke. The first tree ever seen in the town was welded together from scrap iron! Films such as Mad Max and Pitch Black have been filmed there.
Given the opal mining boom, everyone wants a piece of the pie, and there does appear to be an unhealthy attraction to dynamite! My favourite story when visiting was that of the gentlman who, when reading the local newspaper, was extremely excited when he noticed that Star Trek was going to be shown on TV. Sadly, the paper seemed to have got this wrong in their listings and Star Trek was not shown. The paper also listed Star Trek as being on the tellybox over the next couple of weeks also, which really started to annoy this gentleman who was obviously a serious Trekkie. One week later, when the paper said that Star Trek was going to be shown again, our man had simply had enough when it wasn’t, and wondered down to the offices of the local paper with a bunch of dynamite and blew them up!
If you’re bored, further stories on our trip into the Aussie outback and Coober Pedy can be found here. In the meantime, have a great weekend out there.