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Underground house in Coober Pedy | © Flickr/Lodo27
Underground house in Coober Pedy | © Flickr/Lodo27

This Australian Outback Town Exists Almost Entirely Underground

Picture of Hannah Lewis
Updated: 19 June 2017
Australia is a vast country full of weird and wonderful attractions to explore. However, the strangest place to visit might possibly be the underground town of Coober Pedy. What might look like a deserted, rust coloured desert is actually a bustling little outback town which is mostly located in dug outs underground. The small town which is located in a rural part of the state of South Australia has also been dubbed the Opal Capital of the World.

Deep, deep, deep in the outback

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Over 150 millions years ago, the town was once completely under the ocean and as the ocean receded, the years passed the minerals from the seabed flowed and as a result they solidified into the beautiful coloured gem. So, just like these stunning stones, most of the town can be found underneath the earth’s surface.

Mining for opals ⛏

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We’re not just talking about a small bunker here, a huge portion of the town is located underground. There are four churches, shops, galleries and event the Desert Cave Hotel, which has won many awards. Since the opening of the hotel, tourists from near and far have all flocked here to see this strange, unique phenomenon for themselves.

The dug outs aren’t just there to attract tourists either. Over fifty percent of the town’s families live underground in these soundproof enclaves. There are swimming pools down there that the locals also enjoy on a regular basis to cool down from the heat above ground.

In the early 19th century, many of the old miners dug out their homes to avoid the extreme heat, which soars to extreme temperatures that is unsafe to to live and work in. The name Coober Pedy is derived from the Aboriginal “kupa piti”, meaning “white man’s hole in the ground” or “white man in a hole”.

You can explore some of the historic hand dug spaces on one of the many walking tours including the self guided tour in the Old Timers Mine, which was on the original dug outs built in 1916 or there is also the Umoona Opal Mine Tour. Don’t forget to buy your very own Coober Pedy Opal as a memento.