Did You Know About the Town Where People Live Under the Ground?

Did You Know About the Town Where People Live Under the Ground?
What lies beneath, Photo Credit: Volodymyr Dvornyk/ Shutterstock

The excruciating temperatures during summers forced inhabitants of this Australian town to take refuge down under

Sidhartha Singh
July 19 , 2020
05 Min Read

When the temperature starts to rise on the surface, just get to your underground dugout homes. Wait, what? In the remote locations of Australia lies a town Coober Pedy where people live underground. At first, you get an eerie feeling that this place might be uninhabited, but then you will see some figures emerging from  underground dugouts.

Located in the Outback in northern South Australia, 846 km north of Adelaide on the Stuart Highway, Coober Pedy looks a lot like our post-apocalyptic future (if we continue on the damaging path that is leading to warming temperatures everywhere). 

Read: 2020, A Warning

Coober Pedy started life as a miner's town. Local legend says that a teenager stumbled upon a priceless opal about a century ago. Very soon, a flock of miners showed, and the town became one of the largest sources of opals in Australia (and probably the world). Only a handful of miners remain in the area now.

It was to escape the excruciating temperatures of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit during summers that inhabitants of this town decided to take refuge down under.

 

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Coober Pedy (@cooberpedysa) on Feb 25, 2020 at 1:08am PST

Even though mining is in sharp decline, the town is in the news for yet another reason, its hybrid energy project. The people residing in the town have come up with ingenious ideas that might set everyone on the right path of energy conservation. By utilising the windy and sunny conditions in their favour, the renewable energy plant generates around 70 per cent of the Coober Pedy's requirements.

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Desert Cave Hotel (@desertcavehotel) on Jun 11, 2019 at 1:24am PDT

The opal deposits had brought people from all parts of the world here. Today the town has more than 3,500 people with a diverse mix of over 45 nationalities living in a subterranean community. Obviously, houses here aren't your usual rectangular, two-bedroom types. Instead, they are sprawling labyrinths with unique elements carved into sandstone walls (think underground swimming pools).

The quirky town has many interesting things to see. For instance, the Serbian Orthodox Church with intricate carvings of saints on sandstone walls, opal mines which have been turned into museums, art galleries, cafes, drive-in theatres, and watering holes. Many of these are underground or half under the ground, like the Desert Cave Hotel.

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Host Unusual (@hostunusual) on Sep 11, 2019 at 1:18am PDT

If you are looking to beat the summers, then avoid January and February. In the winters, the desert air gets quite chilly at night. There's no windows or natural light below, so don't visit if you tend to be claustrophobic. And when you are here, do look out for warning signs about unmarked holes, which are remains of opal digs.


Related Articles

How I Travelled During a...

Rameshinder Singh Sandhu June 16 , 2020

Here to there

Explore Directions(Routes) and more...
to Go

Our Other Editions

Outlook’ is India’s most vibrant weekly news magazine with critically and globally acclaimed print and digital editions. Now in its 23rd year...

Explore All
  • Check out our Magazine of the month
  • Offbeat destinations
  • In-depth storytelling
  • Stunning pictures
  • Subscribe