In the middle of the desert, hundreds of kilometres from the closest Alice Spring and Adelaide, Coober Pedy is located, a small mining town, the Australian and world capital for the most precious opals.
Under the searing hot sun a fortune of the precious stone is located that has been searched for and mined by adventurists, who have fallen in love with the most valuable opals. Numerous cranes and bulldozers can still be found on the vast Australian plain today, relics of the efforts of those that found the stone, sold it and became rich, or those that failed.
From the first half of the last century in Kupa-piti, as it is called by the native Aborigines, Croats began to arrive, who also formed their community there.
Life has been built underground due to unendurable heat. All that is valuable, notes Danijel Galović, a travel writer who was witness to this himself, is located there underground: a luxurious hotel that was built, or better said dug out, by a Croat, a big church of St, Peter and St, Paul built in 1965 as well as apartments. Of course what is most valuable is also underground, opal.
“Go to Mladen”
- The more colours it has, the higher price an opal will get - explains Galović. One time, he says, he personally witnessed the sale of an opal that reached a price of 300 dollars per gram for which a miner did not particularly trouble to get.
Wandering around Coober Pedy, he came across a Greek store with opals, where he himself tried to at one time get a good price for the desired opal. To this day he remembered what happened to him. “He encouraged us to spend our money at his Croatian friend’s place that also has a store only a few hundred metres from his,” remembers Danijel. That was the Vranci Opal Shop, a store owned by one of our emigrants, Mladen.
Wandering under the desert, under the ground of Kupa-piti, you can walk down Ante’s Street, named after our emigrant who was the first in that part of Coober Pedy to build a house.
Croats, according to Galović’s estimation, have made up a significant ethnic group there for decades. However, mining for opal, which is how most of them earn their income, has almost stopped today due to the high price of gas.
Coober Pedy, Australija
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