Coober Pedy is located in South Australia and is well known for being a dry state; in fact the driest state on earth located on the driest continent. It was established in 1915 after Opal was discovered for the first time in the region. Miners started to settle in the area but they were met by harsh weather and temperature conditions.
They began to dig homes in the hillsides as a way of finding respite from the boiling sun and in the process, a small underground town was created. Coober Pedy people still build their homes underground to this day. During the summers, temperatures rise to over 40 degrees Celsius and it becomes harsh to live there.
If you choose to live above ground, air conditioning becomes a necessity. The scenario however, is completely different if you live underground. Temperatures are always at a cool and constant 24 degrees while the humidity never goes beyond 20%. The winters can get cold but these people are willing to compromise.
Though the town has been around for some time, it only became popular in the 1980s. Umberto Coro, one of the locals realized what potential this town had and built the town’s first hotel in 1981. People began knowing the town and word about it spread fast. People from around Australia began to visit and now the town is common with international tourists who choose to either stay at the Desert Cave Hotel, at other local inns or at some of the private underground houses.
The tourists are mostly attracted by the chance to sleep in cool, spacious and dark rooms underground which never disappoint. Their interiors are designed to reflect the rock’s reddish colors and are equipped with storage areas, bedrooms, walk-in wardrobes, and kitchens that are fantastic. They also have underground churches that add to the attraction.
If you visit the place, all you will see is a huge expanse of land that has chimneys and shafts sticking up from nowhere. You won’t find grave yards however since they bury their dead underground. Imagine that!
The Coober Pedy name is said to originate from ‘kupa piti’ an aboriginal phrase that means ‘white man’s hole in the ground’. The town’s population is about 3,000 people.
The town is not only known for its underground charm but also as the ‘opal capital of the world’. 70% of the world’s opal is produced here. Some popular films have also been shot in the town; Red Planet, Pitch Black, Opal Dream and Queen of the Desert.
For those in need of some physical activity, the town has a golf course situated above ground. It’s not an ordinary course however, because it comprises of nine holes that have been dug in mounds of sand and a huge sand trap. Golfers tee off using a small turf which they drag along with them.
When it’s too hot to play outside during the day, golfers play during the night using ‘glow in the dark’ golf balls. The second season of ‘The Amazing Race’, the CBS television show, was shot in the town and contestants had to choose between going underground in search of opal and playing three rounds of golf on the hottest golf course in the world.