The town of Coober Pedy is often referred to as the “opal capital of the world” because of the quantity of precious opals that are mined there. Located in the remote South Australian desert, where temperatures reach 125 °F / 51 °C, this small mining town with a population of 2,000 is also famous for its underground residences (“dugouts”).
A standard three-bedroom cave home with living room, 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, dugouts remain at a constant temperature, while surface buildings need expensive air-conditioning.
Coober Pedy was founded in 1915, but only in the 1980s the town became known around the world. In 1981, a local named Umberto Coro realized the earning potential that this sleepy, underground settlement held, so he built the town’s first hotel.
Today, it’s common to find international tourists flocking to Coober Pedy, choosing to stay at either the Desert Cave Hotel, or several other local inns and private subterranean houses. What attracts tourists more than anything else is the unique chance to sleep underground, in dark, cool and spacious rooms. Designed in such a way that the interiors reflect the reddish colors of the rock, the underground accommodations of Coober Pedy never disappoint. The houses have storage areas, walk-in-closets, bedrooms, cozy kitchens. Besides the interest of subterranean sleeping, the town has a network of underground shops, bars, museums and churches to visit.
When the Sun goes down, you may head above for a game of desert golf. After dark, players use glowing balls.
Location: 850 km north of Adelaide, Australia.