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Walk into the small Australian town of Coober Pedy on any given day, and you will get the eerie feeling of an abandoned ghost town - One where even the structures seem to have been razed to the ground, leaving behind just barren land. So why even call it a town? Because that's exactly what it is, complete with 4,000 plus residents of 48 nationalities all of whom - Live underground!
Located in the Australian Outback about 846 km north of Adelaide, Coober Pedy was established in 1915, following the discovery of Opal. As people from across the country and world, flocked to mine the precious stone, they realized that while working under the ground was easy, living above it was not, thanks to the extreme temperatures.
They therefore did what humans do best when faced with a situation they cannot change - Adapt! In this case, it meant living underground, by converting old mines into homes and establishing the worlds first and most likely, only underground town.
As years have gone by, the homes have become bigger and more sophisticated. There are now also several hotels and inns to accommodate the tourists that flock in from all over the world, to see this unusual town. And while the structures may be located underground, they are in no way inferior to their counterparts that lie above. Not only do the interiors take full advantage of the beautiful red rock hues, but they also, feature all the modern amenities like walk-in closets, modern kitchens and televisions. And if that is not enough, the town also has gift shops selling opal jewelry, a couple of museums and even, a church!
For those that need some physical activity, the town offers a golf course - One of the few signs of civilization that is situated above the ground. But even then, it is no ordinary course. In lieu of grass and trees, it comprises of a huge sand trap and nine holes dug in mounds of sand, diesel and oil. Golfers tee off by using a small piece of turf that they drag around with them. On days when its too hot, avid golfers play at night using 'glow in the dark' golf balls.
Besides being the Opal capital of the world and a popular tourist destination, Coober Pedy is also a favorite among filmmakers and has been prominently featured in movies such as Pitch Black, Red Planet and Opal Dream. The town was also the venue for the contestants of the second season of the CBS television show 'The Amazing Race'. Their challenge? Either to play three rounds of golf on the world's hottest golf course or, go underground in search of Opal!
Resources: cooperpedy.sa.gov.au, odditycentral.com, wikipedia.org