I am in Coober Pedy, right in the heart of the country. All around is desolate landscape and very little sign of anything alive. This is harsh country, full of flies, low shrubs and baked hard earth, shimmering in the heat as at as the eye can see.
The idea of people even accidentally living here is surprising but this is an active mining town and the inhabitants are working underground. They also live underground, in hewed out of the rock purpose built homes. Men came here to chase the rainbow refraction of opal and they still do.
Today I’ve been touring down a mine, visiting church, driving out to a barren, yet stunning, area of harsh natural beauty and fossicking for opals.
There was also some buying of opals. Even with a fifty percent staff discount (the mine owner is an ex-tour guide and knows how to look after us), it was still way too extravagent a purchase and I was selfish to do so. I wish the guilt would go away because it is impacting on my enjoyment of such stunning jewellery.
I even looked (noodled is the local term) in discarded heaps of tailings for any leftover opal.
I love my job so much.
And, yes, I did find some.