The mining and production of opal came to a standstill during the Great Depression in the late 1930's to 1940's due to opal prices plummeting. The industry was revived when in 1946 local woman Tottie Bryant, found a large and very valuable opal at the Eight Mile field. The find started a new and enthusiastic rush to the opal fields.
Many European migrants came to the area post-WWII and the mining industry boomed again in the 1960s and 1970s.
Coober Pedy is now known as the "Opal Capital of the World" - the opal fields have the largest concentration of opal bearing ground in the world and is known for yielding big runs of full coloured seam opal.
Australian Opal fields produce 95% of the world's opal and Coober Pedy is the greatest producer by quantity in the world. Ninety percent of the world's most precious opals come from right here in South Australia. Australian Opal was officially named the National Gemstone of Australia in July 1993.
Mr Bartram could easily have fetched a much higher price for the Fire of Australia at an international auction but the family felt that it was important that the opal stayed in South Australia.
It is such a piece, so outstanding that it would have been a sheer misery to see it go to another destination and be cut up for watch faces or something like that," Mr Bartram said.
The "Fire of Australia" is the finest piece of opal that has ever gone on public display in the world. It's massive - weighing in at 998 grams - and is made up of 5,000 carats. To get an idea of the size of the opal, imagine two cricket balls placed side by side and you'll get a better picture.
The opal was first on public display during the SA Museum Opals exhibition, which was the most popular exhibition ever held in the museum's history. It was after this exhibition ended that talks began to place the opal into the safe hands at the Museum.
This incredibly rare and exquisite opal will be on display in the South Australian Museum's front foyer from Saturday the 21st of January until the end of February 2017. Shortly after, it will be installed into a permanent exhibition space within the Museum. Get along and see this remarkable and precious piece of rock.
Entry to the Museum, and to see the opal, is free.