They don’t call it Down Under for nothing.
Welcome to Coober Pedy, a bustling Australian town 846 km north of Adelaide, where everyone lives underground.
On the surface, the place looks pretty deserted. With just a few hotels and, randomly, a golf course dotted around, the place has the air of an abandoned town.
In fact, around 3,500 people live there. It’s just that most of them (60 per cent) live below the surface – in homes burrowed out of caves.
Coober Pedy was established in 1915 following the discovery of opal there. Ninety five per cent of the world’s opal comes from the area.
But, people who flocked there to mine the previous stones soon discovered life above ground was pretty tough – because of the scorching temperatures. In the summer, the temperature often exceeds 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).
They solved that problem by building ‘dugouts’ – caves bored into the hillsides. Bizarrely, some of the houses even have faux-windows to hang their curtains round. Well, you’ve gotta love those net curtains.
100 years later and as well as palatial underground homes, the town has several underground hotels and B&Bs (the Coober Pedy Underground B&B won Australia’s best B&B last year).
Then there’s the underground church, a gift shop, a few museums, a casino, and, of course, the local pub.
The entrances to all the buildings are at ground level and all the rooms are ventilated with a vertical shaft, keeping the temperature regulated.
Check out the Coober Pedy video here (if anyone’s seen Aussie cult film The Castle, it’s sort of like that but underground).