Coming into cosmopolitan Coober Pedy (yes, cosmopolitan – there are 44 nationalities represented in this little town, including the local Kokatha and Arabana peoples) 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. Discovered here 103 years ago, these gemstones 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, cave-dwelling locals and rusty car wrecks, you might think you've arrived in a postapocalyptic wasteland − but it sure is interesting! The name derives from local Aboriginal words kupa (white man) and piti (hole).
The surrounding desert is jaw-droppingly desolate, a fact not overlooked by international film-makers who've come here to shoot end-of-the-world epics like Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,Red Planet,Ground Zero,Pitch Black and the slightly more believable Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.