The underground houses of Coober Pedy

Nov 25, 2008 23 comments

Coober Pedy is a town located in northern South Australia and is known as the opal capital of the world, as nearly 95 percent of the world's opal supply comes from the local mines. This small town with a population of around 3000 has a unique way of life – nearly half of them live underground.


Back in 1916 when people moved into Coober Pedy to mine opal, the harsh summer temperature drove them into caves dug into the hillsides. When temperatures outside raged over 40 degree centigrade, underground temperatures remained comfortable and nearly constant year-round. Even today, the town folk prefer to build their homes in underground caves. In fact, many of these homes are abandoned mine shafts dug to search opal.

Coober Pedy has around 250,000 mine shafts and signs like this are common.


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Building a new home in Coober Pedy is much cheaper and quicker compared to conventional building methods. The modern homes aren't the deep caves that people imagine but are dug into the hill sides. The entrance is usually at street level, and the rooms extend towards the back into the hill.

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There is a local golf course - mostly played at night with glowing balls, to avoid daytime temperatures. It’s completely free of grass and golfers take a small piece of "turf" around to use for teeing off. The lack of grass hasn’t discouraged them to put up this sign in the golf course though.



Major attractions in Coober Pedy includes this church.

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And even underground hotels

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Thanks Flickr, OffbeatEarth,, Outback Australia


  1. WTF is up with your comment? Anywho, Awesome pics. Thanks for sharing!

  2. The author of the Obama comment is an idiot, and that was completely unnecessary!
    I think I would get claustrophobic in there! Still very interesting!

  3. The presence of fans suggests that there might be air quality issues. How do they ventilate the caves?

  4. Why is there a Greek Orthodox church in an Australian Opal-mining town?

  5. diafani: What makes you think that's a Greek Orthodox church?

  6. i thought it was greek orthodox as well, though on closer examination i think what you took to be the iconostasis is actually the entrance of the church...which would mean it isn't necessarily greek orthodox

  7. Fans r ther so Obama wont ruin the place.

  8. This post has been removed by the administrator.

  9. I wouldnt mind a house like that in
    our February in S.A.


  10. The Church is Serbian Orthodox. There are a lot of migrants in outback Australia.


    Some more pics of the church.

  12. Actually the presence of fans indicates that it get really hot in Coober Pedy.

  13. Wow! Absolutely stunning!

  14. I bet they have crappy cell reception.

  15. From what I recall there is a small (about 1' diameter) hole going to the surface to allow the hot air out. Temperatures 'indoors' are 25C all year around while outdoor temps range from 0C to 50C on a summers day/night

  16. I used to be a homeless rodeo clown but now I am a world class magician !

  17. A distant relative (second cousin or something) lived in Coober Pedy, and I have visited her once. The dugout nature of the town isn't the most odd thing about it - it's the residents. Opal Miners have to pay a shite-load for their claims, so in essence they pay to go to work.
    If they get a poor strike, they can actually go into debt.
    Crime rate is surprisingly high there - until you realise that most of the crime is people stealing opals from other people's claims.

  18. Chris asked:
    The presence of fans suggests that there might be air quality issues. How do they ventilate the caves?

    Hey, I can answer that! I'm homeless and live in a cave I built in the woods (and have pix to prove it), In the winter it is sealed up as tight as I can make it.

    There is PLENTY of oxygen, no matter how tight you seal it. But you ALWAYS need a fan to circulate the air, otherwise the CO2 gathers in one place (like on your head),

    The apollo 13 astronauts had to turn off ALL power,including the lights, but they still had to keep a fan on.

    -- faye

    I hacked into the power grid and I have my computer and wireless internet in here. I also have a little fridge (like the coober pedy people), A/C, and HDTV (through my PC).

    Sometimes I don't come out for two weeks, and once I only knew there was 8" of snowing outside was by looking at the newspaper web site.

    If you'd like to see pix of my own cozy techno-cave (and me laying in it naked), here:

  19. U R GAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111

    -Ibod Catooga

  20. like in season 2 in lost. xD

  21. Fascinating profile of an unusual way of life - thanks for sharing!

  22. i want to ask you that how can u get this images dude... and so many many thanks to present here..


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