Coober Pedy – underground Australian town

House at the underground town of Coober Pedy

Have you ever heard of an underground town on Earth? Well, this is what Coober Pedy, a small South Australian town is.

Coober Pedy, with a population of little less than 3000 is situated at a distance of about 846 Km north of Adelaide on the Stuart Highway. Human settlement begin to grew up in Coober Pedy after Opal was discovered for the first time in the region in 1915.

Miners started to settle in the area but they were met by harsh weather and temperature conditions. They began to dig homes in the hillsides as a way of finding respite from the boiling sun and in the process, a small underground town was created. Coober Pedy people still build their homes underground to this day. During the summers, temperatures rise to over 40 degrees Celsius and it becomes harsh to live there.

House at the underground town of Coober Pedy

If you choose to live above ground, air conditioning becomes a necessity. The scenario however, is completely different if you live underground. Temperatures are always at a cool and constant 24 degrees while the humidity never goes beyond 20%. The winters can get cold but these people are willing to compromise.

The Coober Pedy name is said to originate from ‘kupa piti’ an aboriginal phrase that means ‘white man’s hole in the ground’.

People from around Australia began to visit and now the town is common with international tourists who choose to either stay at the Desert Cave Hotel, at other local inns or at some of the private underground houses.

The tourists are mostly attracted by the chance to sleep in cool, spacious and dark rooms underground which never disappoint. Their interiors are designed to reflect the rock’s reddish colors and are equipped with storage areas, bedrooms, walk-in wardrobes, and kitchens that are fantastic. They also have underground churches that add to the attraction.

If you visit the place, all you will see is a huge expanse of land that has chimneys and shafts sticking up from nowhere. You won’t find grave yards however since they bury their dead underground. Imagine that!

The town is not only known for its underground charm but also as the ‘opal capital of the world’. 70% of the world’s opal is produced here. Some popular films have also been shot in the town; Red Planet, Pitch Black, Opal Dream and Queen of the Desert.

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