Coober Pedy, a town in northern South Australia, is referred to as the opal capital of the world. The town is renowned for its below-ground dwellings, which are called “dugouts”. The entire town has been built underground due to the scorching daytime heat. It is so apocalyptic that the Mad Max films took place there.
Around half of the town’s population live in dugouts. Some homes resemble caves, while others are mansions. A good portion of the town has been built underground–including hotels, shops, and churches. Before white settlement, Cooper Pedy was the traditional lands of the Arabana people.
I once stopped over there on a ten day road trip close to a decade and a half ago. It was my first time in the outback, my first time camping and my very first taste of what can be described as geotourism. The town is famous for its opals–the national gemstone of Australia.
The town’s founding by white settlers over a century ago was precipitated when a teenager discovered opal gemstones there. Since then, the town’s main attraction has been opal mining. An estimated 70 percent or more of the world’s opal emerges from Coober Pedy.
Of all the different varieties of opal that are mined there, White Precious Opals are the most widely used in jewellery. The word Opal is derived from the Latin opalus and the Sanskrit upala which means precious stone. Before its discovery in Australia, opal was mined in the former Czechoslovakia and was used by the Aztecs. It was first brought to Europe by the conquistadors.
White Opal possesses a beautiful iridescence that makes it look like it was crafted in the sea. To the untrained eye, it could be mistaken for pearl or even moonstone. As a white stone, it is strongly connected to the crown chakra.
As the mind deals with all things related to our communication, white opal is believed to offer support with communication. This could help soothe out relationship woes, as well as many arguments that occur due to miscommunication.
White opals are delicate stones that need taking care of. You can’t be careless with them as they’ll lose their beautiful iridescence and play-of-colour. You’ll even begin to see scratches on the stone.
Nature is a wonder, indeed, to create something so beautiful in a place that has been described as a hole.