The Underground Lives of Australian Opal Miners



A look behind the curtain, and under the ground

The Washington Post has published a gorgeous series of pictures by photographer Tamara Merino featuring the underground homes of a community of opal miners in the Australian desert.

The photos provide a rare and welcome look into the lives of some of the people on our industry’s front line.

The city of Coober Pedy is a partially subterranean community that has been slowly growing in the harsh Australian desert for 100 years. People come to the area hoping to find opals in the rubble left behind by mining companies. Some meet with success; others spend their lifetimes on the search.

Coober Pedy is where “opal fever takes place,” Merino says in the story, “[where] madness, ambition, greed, despair, distrust, crimes, and obsession begin.”

(Photo by Tamara Merino, courtesy of The Washington Post)