I know we all moan about the weather here in the UK, but at least the temperature falls into the “vaguely acceptable” bracket most of the time. In Coober Pedy, South Australia, however, it can reach 45° C (in the shade!) in summer and in winter, it can fall below 0. Not OK.
Credit: Matt Malone
It’s not surprising that the residents live underground. Well, that isn’t strictly true – as the name suggests, the homes are actually dug out of hillsides. They were originally dug by people looking for opals.
The entrance is usually at street level, with a small garden out front, so there is some level of natural light. There are also shafts that stick up out of the hillside that ventilate the home and bring in some light to the darkest areas of the dugout.
Apparently, the climate in a dugout home is pretty close to perfect all year round. No matter the temperature outside. And the humidity is ideal too. Outside, it’s very dry and it can be a bit harsh on the skin and lungs.
The town has almost 2,000 residents and nearly all have an underground home, and from a distance the only way you can tell there are so many homes there is by the ventilation shafts poking through the land!
Credit: Nicholas Jones
For me, I would say that the best thing about living underground in Coober Pedy is that if you wanted an extension you can just tunnel away AND you could well find an opal whilst doing so. Or you could just find yourself in your neighbour’s sitting room.
If you decide to visit this Aussie version of the Shire, organise your travel insurance before you go.