Coober Pedy in South Australia is a town almost completely built underground.
It is located 526 miles or 846 km north of Adelaide on the Stuart Highway.
A 2011 census found there was a population of 1695 people living there.
The name Coober Pedy comes from a local Aboriginal term kupa-piti which means boys waterhole.
This town is referred to as the opal capital of the world because of the incredible opals that are pulled from the mine near town.
Most people live in below ground houses called dugouts which dramatically help with the scorching daytime heat.
A standard 3 bedroom house costs about the same to build than an above ground home. Below ground homes remain at a steady temperature where above ground homes need air conditioning to survive the hot Australian heat. Temperatures in summer time can go above 104 degrees F or 40 degrees celsius.
The first houses in Coober Pedy were holes dug in search for opals, once an area was cleared of any opals it became someone’s tiny house. Today opal mining isn’t allowed within town limits but you can always add another room to your house which isn’t considered mining.
Back in the old days all the underground homes were built with picks and shovels but today only modern machinery is used and does the job significantly faster. When a tunneling machine finishes a room an attractive pattern is left on the walls and ceiling which is then finished off with a clear sealer to prevent dust.
The town relies on tourism and the opal mine for most of the employment.
The first opal found in Coober Pedy was on February 1st 1915, today Coober Pedy features over 70 opal fields making it the largest opal mining area of the world.
The opals sell at wholesale auction for around $50 – $200 per thumb sized opal. Nothing like $100 dollar bills in the walls of your house.
The mine is a popular tourist attraction but the town also has people visit the graveyard and the 2 underground churches. There are more than 1 motels that offer underground accommodation ranging from a single room to than entire motel being underground.
The one and only tree within the town is welded from scrap pieces of iron which sits on a hilltop overlooking the town.
Surprisingly there is a golf course in town which is completely void of grass and played at night time with golf balls that glow in the dark. Golfers will take a patch of turf around with them for the tee off at each hole. The Coober Pedy golf club is the only one in the world to have reciprocal rights at world famous St. Andrews club.
The town also has a Australian football club that must travel 560 miles or 900 km just to play their matches at Roxby Downs.
Coober Pedy is a very isolated place, temperatures can swing from scorching hot during the day to almost freezing at night.
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