Coober Pedy is a small desert town about halfway between Adelaide and Alice Springs. The extreme summer temperatures have led to many residents living in caves. A standard three-bedroom cave home with lounge, kitchen, and bathroom can be excavated out of the rock in the hillside for a similar price to building a house on the surface. However, the underground homes remain at a constant temperature and do not need air conditioning.
In 1999, there were more than 250,000 mine shaft entrances in the area and a law was introduced discouraging large-scale mining. Coober Pedy supplies most of the world’s gem-quality opal.
They Live Underground in Desert Caves.
I had the opportunity to stay in the underground Hotel during my last visit. It has been open since 2007. Tourism has been steadily growing in the town since the completion of the sealing of the Stuart Highway in 1987.
Like so many remote towns the locals are friendly and helpful. It was Doris Haddock who said “Small towns make up for their lack of people by having everyone be more interesting”, this certainly applies to Coober Pedy. Maybe it’s because they live underground in desert caves!