Coober Pedy – Underground living

Underground church
Underground church

Coober Pedy is an Australian town north of Adelaide on the Stuart Highway. Its population counts around 2000 people, including indigenous Australians.

Coober Pedy is also known as the opal center of the world due to the opal mining industry developed here.

The town is even more famous for its underground residence known as dugouts. Living underground is not a fashion trend.

It’s a necessity because of the extremely high temperatures during the daytime. The name Coober Pedy origins from the Aboriginal kupa-piti which means boys’ waterhole.

Coober Pedy
Coober Pedy

In 1915 opal was found in the area and since then, Coober Pedy is the biggest opal exporter in the world. It’s located on the erosion slope of the Stuart Ranges.

The area is a sandy and stony desert with no vegetation. There almost no rainfall here and no topsoil where the plants can grow. The weather conditions make it a very hostile environment for flora and fauna as well for the humans.

Coober Pedy has a typical desert climate with sandstorms and temperatures up to 81.5 °F in the shade. With these measured temperatures people decided to move underground and find a way to escape from the burning sun and frequent sandstorms.

The people who live here are mostly Europeans who escaped during the World War II. The population counts around 3500, including 45 nationalities.

The multi-cultural community of Coober Pedy is an interesting place to visit.

Opal from Coober Pedy
Opal from Coober Pedy

Besides the stony desert, here you can find amazing underground homes, restaurants, churches and even jewelry shops where you can buy opal.

The high temperatures have forced residents of Coober Pedy to go and live underground. These homes are usually three-bedroom caves with lounge, kitchen, and bathroom.

The prices of these type of homes are similar to the surface house. The advantage of the dugouts is that they remain with a constant temperature unlike the houses up above that need air conditioning if you want to survive.

The sky in Coober Pedy is free of clouds during the whole year which makes it even hotter.

Underground Jewellery Shop Lodo27 CC BY-SA 3.0
Underground Jewellery Shop Lodo27 CC BY-SA 3.0

Believe it or not, people here love to play golf. Of course, they can’t do it during the day, so they play at night with glowing balls.

This unique outdoor activity is a real attraction for visitors. Coober Pedy is a very attractive spot for movie producers. Movies like Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,

The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Pitch Black, Opal Dream and Until the end of the world have all been filmed in the area.

Coober Pedy Lodo27 CC BY-SA 3.0
Coober Pedy Lodo27 CC BY-SA 3.0

Maybe you are not a fan of hot weather and deserts, but you can’t deny that this place is very cool, even though it’s hot!

If you are a type of a traveler that wants to experience something new, get the strongest sunscreen and book a flight to Australia.

The good thing is that everytime you get a bit warm on the surface you can hide underground and chill in some of the restaurants.

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stef-zisovska is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival