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Introducing Coober Pedy

Coming into Coober Pedy the dry, barren desert suddenly becomes riddled with holes and adjunct piles of dirt − reputedly more than a million around the township. The reason for all this rabid digging is opals, which have made this small town a mining mecca. This isn't to say it's also a tourist mecca − with swarms of flies, no trees, 50°C summer days, subzero winter nights, cave-dwelling locals and rusty car wrecks in front yards, you might think you've arrived in a wasteland − but it sure is interesting!

Coober Pedy is actually very cosmopolitan, with 44 nationalities represented. Few locals make their living solely from mining, so there's a lot of 'career diversification' here (...the dude who drives the airport bus also loads the baggage, mans the hotel reception desk and works his opal claim on weekends).

The surrounding desert is jaw-droppingly desolate, a fact not overlooked by international filmmakers who've come here to shoot end-of-the-world epics like Mad Max III, Red Planet, Ground Zero, Pitch Black and the slightly more believable Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.