The town of Coober Pedy in northern South Australia (wait, it gets even more confusing) is the opal capital of the world. Nearly 95% of the world’s opal supply comes from the local mines. But, if you were to walk into this mining town of 3,000 people, you wouldn’t see a bustling little town. You’d actually see less than half of its population.

That’s because half of the people who live in Coober Pedy live underground.

Most of the cave system that was dug out in the area was originally for the mines.

The holes started off small, because 50 years ago most of the mining work was manual labor.

But, as the miners kept digging for opals, they also made more room…

To live. The miners, instead of living in the extreme desert climate, began moving into the caves they created during the mining process.

You’d think that living underground would be dank and dark, but they found a way to make their caves look like real homes.

Even complete with “windows.”

Some of the caves in the hillside did lead outside, so this wasn’t a city of mole people (we think).

At least they had a sense of humor.

The community was so serious about their cave lifestyle, even churches were established underground.

Even though these caves are private residences, visitors are welcome.

Now, there are even underground hotels in Coober Pedy, just in case anyone would like to have a taste of the lifestyle that was created here.

Don’t get too claustrophobic, though. The “underground” homes are usually dug into the surrounding hillsides and most entrances are at street level.

Each room is ventilated with a vertical shaft, the temperature is perfectly regulated and sound barely travels through the homes.

Essentially, you could get a perfect night’s sleep in Coober Pedy (if you could get over the whole “cave” thing).

Although the perfectly regulated temperature seems like a good idea, the thought of living underneath a desert in a series of caves is still a hard pill to swallow.


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