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Underground living in the Aussie Outback

To escape extreme temperatures, thousands of South Australians have turned to living beneath the surface.

Underground living in the Aussie Outback

South Australia’s Coober Pedy is a town like no other. Located 850kms north of Adelaide, it is one of Australia’s most remote and isolated communities.

Home to a modest 4000 people, 60% of the population are of European descendant, having migrated from southern and eastern Europe after the Second World War. Within this small town there are over 45 nationalities represented.

Well-known for a few interesting features, Coober Pedy, which comes from the Aboriginal term kupa-piti, translates to mean “white man’s hole’. Suitably named, the town is renowned for a variety of underground establishments including hotels, restaurants, bars, churches and even many of the resident’s homes.

Due to extreme temperatures, more than half of the population have opted to live underground, to seek respite from the heat, which can regularly soar to 45 degrees in the shade.

Living in caves bored into the hillsides, otherwise known as ‘dugouts’, residents enjoy all of the amenities of a regular above-ground home including a lounge room, kitchen and bathroom.

While prices are comparable to building a house on the surface, temperatures remain constant underground, ridding the need for additional expenses such as air conditioning.

Although the rooms are below ground, there is still plenty of ventilation that is achieved via narrow vertical shafts, which are the only hint of life beneath the soil, as they can be seen poking out of the hills.

If this isn’t enough to arouse your curiosity, Coober Pedy is also home to an entirely grassless golf course, which is an attraction in itself. Games are mostly played at night to avoid the heat and glowing balls are used so players can keep track of their shots.

Finally, Cooper Pedy is also famed for its opal fields, which cover an area of 4,954 square kilometres and is the largest opal mining area in the world. Since 1915, this unassuming town has been the world’s largest opal producer.

So if you are after a destination with a twist and your travel bucket list includes experiencing life underground or trying your luck at finding an opal, then Coober Pedy is the town for you.

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