Aussie Author’s Love Letter to the Australian Outback

K. M. Steele
Author K. M. Steele

As the main setting for a suspenseful jewel heist, Coober Pedy is not usually the destination that springs to mind.

But for Australian author K.M. Steele, this small town smack-bang in the centre of South Australia was the perfect place to set her new book, Hunt for the Virgin Rainbow.

As the title suggests, Coober Pedy’s own famous Virgin Rainbow opal is the centrepiece for this thrilling story, as protagonist Mallory, as well as a slew of other jewel thieves and interesting characters converge on the outback in an attempt to get their hands on the prized opal.

Stealing the opal was the easy part

For Mallory, stealing the opal was the easy part, it’s what comes next that will keep readers turning every action-packed page.

The ensuant chase zigzags through the Australian desert, across the sea to an icy Canada before racing back to a heart-stopping conclusion in the Whitsunday region.

However, it is the outback town of Coober Pedy that truly steals the show. It’s a place so unique and full of life that it almost feels like a character itself. For K.M. Steele, there was nowhere else she could set her story.

Coober Pedy as a character

“I wanted to begin the novel in Coober Pedy, because like the famous opal, the town where it was discovered is rather unique. I wanted to write a story that centred around a jewel heist set in Australia, so I researched famous opals. When I found the Virgin Rainbow, I was fascinated by the gem, and loved its name. As you can imagine, a name like Virgin Rainbow invites wordplay.”

Australia has the world’s largest supply of opals, between 95-97%, with most of them found in Southern Australia.

Who found the Virgin Rainbow first?

First discovered in Coober Pedy by miner John Dunstan, the incredible Virgin Rainbow opal, known for its beauty and ability to seemingly glow in the dark, is said to be worth over one million dollars, and was formed and found inside the skeleton of an ancient cuttlefish.

Having grown up in Western NSW, K.M Steele was keen to showcase the beauty that Australia has to offer to her readers.

“I grew up in the Pilliga. That country is quite different to the desert country in the centre. I have visited desert country and I would love to go back there.”

The author firmly believes that there is a market for more stories to be set in our own backyards. “I lived overseas for five years, and in that time, I realised that Australia is seen as an exotic location to people who have never visited. I believe there will always be a market for novels with a great plot, engaging characters and a memorable setting.”

For anyone interested in seeing the infamous Virgin Rainbow for themselves, it is currently on display in the South Australian Museum in Adelaide, hopefully behind some very sturdy glass and stringent security measures.

Hunt for the Virgin Rainbow is the first in a 3-book series that will engross and entertain readers, with a story that is truly a love letter to the Australian outback. It is currently available in all good bookstores and libraries and is also available for order at

You can buy the gripping Hunt for the Virgin Rainbow through the Hawkeye store here, through good book stores or your local library.
Learn more about author K. M. Steele here.
Read reviews for Hunt for the Virgin Rainbow via Goodreads.

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