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Grub's Up

Of the 4,500 or so people living in Coober Pedy, approximately 600 are Greek which means it's probably the only bit of desert in the world where you can get a killer lamb gyros with tzatziki and a side of three different types of saganaki.
November 1, 2006, 12:00am

Photo by Alex Sturrock

’m originally from Adelaide but have lived here for seven years. I was only going to come for two years to help my family run this shop and to make some money. There are not too many restaurants here so we do really well. The way I see it, there’s always work anywhere if you want it. Some of the people here don’t seem to want to work though. I guess maybe the dole office is paying them too well. It’s very laid back here; too laid back if you ask me. There’s not too much to do. You can’t go to a nightclub or go to the beach or anything like that but you get used to it and it’s a good life.

I work 24/7 and in between I go over the road to the only underground bar in the world and mingle with locals and tourists. I’ve never been mining but I have been noodling. The younger generation in Coober Pedy aren’t interested in mining; they’re not really interested in anything.

The opal market is not in the best shape, mainly because people are spending all their money on essential things like fuel and spending less on things like jewellery. Fuel prices were really high a while back but it didn’t stop people coming through CP, which surprised me. Luckily they’re a bit better now. It’s like cigarettes: people will keep buying them regardless of how expensive they are, they’ll just complain more.

What really gets to me is how tight with money some of the tourists are. The English tourists aren’t too bad but some from places like Eastern Europe are really stingy. I’m not in a rush to go back to Greece but it’ll definitely happen at some point. I love living here, but when you’re young and you’ve experienced the night life—in say Adelaide—and then you’re smack bang here with nothing to do, it takes a bit of getting used to.

PETER IKONOMOPOULOS