The last frontier‚ cosmopolitan‚ outback‚ all these words are used to describe the dusty outback town of Coober Pedy‚ but perhaps the simplest is 'unique'. Located on the Sturt Highway‚ in the arid centre of the State‚ Australia's largest opal mining town is perhaps as well known for the unusual underground accommodation favoured by its residents as for its opals. The dugouts‚ as they are known‚ enable miners and their families to escape from the searing summer heat above ground. Most are as large as conventional houses and furnished in the same manner.
Visitors from all over the world come to see this unusual community where opal mining‚ underground mining museums‚ mine tours and opal cutting demonstrations are main attractions. The name Cooper Pedy is believed to have been derived from the Aboriginal words 'kupa' and 'piti'. Kupa means 'uninitiated person' or 'white man' and piti means 'water-hole'‚ 'hole' or 'burrow'‚ therefore 'white man's hole'.