‘Coober Pedy’,  A weird underground city amidst the desert in Australia

Did you know that in Australia, there’s a small town in the middle of the desert that’s almost like being on Mars? With this terrain, it has a hot climate here in summer and very cold in winter. More than 60% of the city’s residents chose to live underground instead of on land to escape unpredictable weather and become a world-famous tourist destination. The city is called ‘Coober Pedy’.

'Coober Pedy', An underground city in the middle of desert

Coober Pedy is a small town in northern South Australia. which is about 750 kilometers far north of Adelaide. This city is called “the world’s capital of Opal” because this is a huge treasury of opal minerals until mining took place, and many people gradually migrated here over 2,500 people. However, the conditions on the ground are also harsh because it is dry and hot, especially in summer when temperatures reach 50 degrees Celsius with no clouds. People have to build underground residences by dwellings or dig deep under the hills, including houses, restaurants, beauty salons, spas, hotels, or churches.

The beginning of Coober Pedy

This area was formerly inhabited by the Aborigines. Coober Pedy once was under the ocean, which made it a source of colorful opals. Then, after World War I ended, in 1916, Opal mines were discovered. Many soldiers turned into miners working in precious gem opal mines. 

At first, Coober Pedy was named Stewart Range in honor of the first Scottish explorer to explore the area from 1858 until 1920. It was renamed to Coober Pedy, an Aboriginal term meaning ‘white man in the hole’.

After that, Coober Pedy became the world’s largest jewel distribution until business began to not as flourish as before. The villagers turned Couber Pedi into a permanent burrow instead.

How do people live underground?

Of course, the atmosphere on the ground here looks like a typical city where there are quite a few isolated people, but under the ground, this is a typical city where it’s built four meters underground to prevent rock tumble down. Since the underground is a layer of rock, the temperature here is 23 degrees. In reverse, the air above where people normally live, they’re going to have a hot summer at 50 degrees, and with the cold winter that has dropped to 2-3 degrees, the underground city has become a cool 24-hour and year-round home.

Another advantage of being underground is that it doesn’t cost electricity because it generates electricity by itself from wind and solar. It’s cheap to live in an underground city. The auction price for a three-bedroom house is AUD 40,000  (THB 900,000), while the neighboring house is AUD 700,000 (THB 16,000,000).

The underground houses have all the amenities like other ordinary houses, including the Internet, cable, electricity, and water, but the difference is that there’s no need to turn on air-conditioners or heaters, no sunlight and there’s no bug here.

Coober Pedy is now one of Australia’s most attractive tourist destinations. Many motels are open to tourists who want to experience it. Let’s take a break in the underground city.

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