Coober Pedy: underground homes in the heart of the Australian desert

When we hear about underground cities, our imagination might conjure images of post-apocalyptic shelters or ancient subterranean labyrinths. However, in Australia, there is a place where underground living is a modern-day reality. Welcome to Coober Pedy!

Date: 30 October

Geography and History

Located in South Australia, Coober Pedy serves as a vivid reminder of the riches hidden beneath the Earth's surface. This town, set apart from major populated areas, draws attention not only for its opals but also for its unique history.


After the discovery of opal mines in 1915, people from all over Australia and even from abroad came here hoping for quick wealth. Soon, the first settlements began to appear around the mines, which over time evolved into the modern town of Coober Pedy.

The climatic conditions of this area are extremely harsh. Summer temperatures often exceed 40°C, and in winter, the temperature can drop sharply. To protect themselves from the unstable and scorching climate, the pioneers decided to use the cool underground spaces they had dug in search of opals as shelters.

Unique Architecture

The underground homes of Coober Pedy, known as "dugouts," are striking in their diversity. Some are modest one-room dwellings, while others are luxurious multi-room apartments.


The walls in these homes showcase the natural rocky design, adding a special flair to the interior. In some homes, for a modern touch, the walls might be adorned with decorative elements or plastered. Typically, the ceilings retain their original, stony texture. However, in some homes, wooden elements or other decorations might be incorporated for design purposes.

Although these homes are underground, many are equipped with modern amenities such as electricity, water supply, and even the internet.

From the outside, these homes are unassuming and almost blend into the desert landscape, but inside, they impress with their coziness and originality. Thanks to the natural insulation, the underground homes stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter, making them an ideal living space in the extreme desert conditions.

Tourist Attraction

Every year, Coober Pedy welcomes around 20,000 tourists eager to delve into the fascinating world of underground living and opal mining. This town offers a unique opportunity to learn how opals are formed since approximately 30% of the world's production of this precious gem is mined right here.

Over the past 50 years, the number of visitors to the town has increased fivefold, indicating a growing interest in this exotic destination. Besides mines, there are museums here where one can acquaint oneself with the region's history, indigenous culture, and distinctive opal collections.

One of the main attractions in Coober Pedy is its unique underground hotels. They provide visitors a chance to experience the comfort and coolness of subterranean accommodations. Cafes and restaurants also offer traditional Australian dishes.



For adventure enthusiasts, Coober Pedy provides off-road desert tours, as well as the opportunity to independently search for opals. Workshops are also available in the town where one can learn to process found gems and turn them into beautiful jewelry pieces.


Coober Pedy is a distinctive place where history, culture, and the modern art of surviving under extreme conditions converge. This town stands as a vivid example of human adaptation to the natural environment while simultaneously reminding us of the relentless human pursuit of beauty and comfort even in the most unpredictable circumstances.

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