Known by most as the opal capital of the world, the small town of Coober Pedy has quickly become one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations. And that shouldn’t come as a big surprise since this is the world’s only underground town.
Set in South Australia, the driest state on the driest continent on Earth, Coober Pedy was established as a town at the beginning of the 20th century, in 1915, when opal was discovered here and miners started settling in. It soon became clear that the harsh temperatures were too hard to withstand so the miners started digging houses in the hillsides of the area, hoping they would find shelter from the burning sun. And they made the right choice, to this day many prefer to live in an underground house than build one on the surface, although the building costs are relatively similar.
Temperatures exceed 40 degrees Celsius during the Summer months and you must have air conditioning if you want to battle the heat in your living quarters above ground, whereas in the underground homes, the temperature remains constant at a cool 24 degrees. The humidity also doesn’t climb over 20% during these hot days, but it does get a bit cool in the winter.
Coober Pedy became a tourist location in 1981 when a local named Umberto Coro realized the huge potential of this unique settlement and decided to invest in building a hotel. News about the underground town spread fast and people from all over Australia began to show up, and today Coober Pedy is an international traveling destination. People can choose to stay in the Desert Cave hotel as well as in other small local inns in Coober Pedy and private underground houses.
Tourists say sleeping underground, in cool, dark, spacious rooms is an incredible experience and most of them swear it’s the best sleep they have ever had. The underground houses aren’t bad to look at either, the walls are beautifully finished and the furniture is chosen so that it reflects the reddish color of the rock..
If you’re looking for an offbeat travel experience, you simply must considerCoober Pedy, after all, an underground town is not something you see every day. One more tip, be sure to check out the underground churches, they are said to be very beautiful.