The name Coober Pedy is derived from an Aboriginal phrase 'Kupa Piti' commonly assumed to mean 'white man in a hole.' This name came about both because of the miner's pits, and the miner's tendency to live in underground dugouts to escape the desert heat. Almost half of the population still lives underground and there are underground churches, bars, hotels and even an underground beautician. Over the last 100 years, Coober Pedy has evolved into one of the most unique places in Australia and perhaps the world. It's a cosmopolitan town with a population of 3,500 and over 45 different nationalities.
Ron Gluckman is an American reporter who is based in Hong Kong, roaming around the wild parts of Asia for a number of publications, including the Wall Street Journal, which ran this piece in the summer of 1995. Mr Gluckman has a warm spot for wacky tales and odd characters, a quirk that dates to his reporting days in the unconventional Alaskan Bush. However, aside from North Korea, which he rates as, «easily the five weirdest places I’ve ever been,» Mr Gluckman has never been anywhere quite as wacky as Coober Pedy — unless you count Japan’s Indoor Beach.