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Population: 2103 Opal was discovered at Coober Pedy in 1315, today it is Australia's largest and oldest opal mining town, known the world over for the unusual underground lifestyle its inhabitants have been forced to adopt to escape the fierce summer heat. Coober Pedy is on the main Stuart Highway. Its most notable feature is the moon-like landscape of opal mines, holes in the ground dug by several generations of miners and simply left there untended after being discarded. Care should be taken when walking around the area. The mines area is made up of around thirty working fields stretching outwards in a radius of up to fifty kilometres from the town. There are certain rules of behaviour visitors should observe - including avoiding fossicking for opal in and around miner's claims. Ask permission before searching for opal in tailings heaps ('mullock' heaps). Visitors can stay in a choice of underground accommodation.