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This Australian Outback town gives new meaning to living ‘Down Under’

Some futurologists predict the changing climate will force coming generations to live underground in earth-scrapers. It’s not so far-fetched, because there’s already a model for underground living in Coober Pedy, an Australian town in the Outback where residents escape the extreme conditions by dwelling under the dirt.

Before Mad Max: Fury Road, there was Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Mel Gibson and Tina Turner filmed the movie in the mining town of Coober Pedy back in the 1980s. Beneath the sun-scorched earth (the average high temperature in January is around 98 degrees Fahrenheit) is the legacy of the town’s opal-mining past, which started over a hundred years ago when a teenager found several of the precious stones. That legacy: dugouts, where residents can live at a comfortable 75 degrees Fahrenheit all year long, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

Coober Pedy has become a popular tourist destination, thanks to its unique attractions.

Where to stay

Desert Cave Hotel

Though you can stay above ground, the Desert Cave Hotel has dugout rooms, as well as underground shops, a bar, and opal-viewing area.

Lookout Cave Underground Motel

If you want to “live like a local,” you can book a room, about 82 feet below ground, at the Lookout Cave Underground Motel. There’s also a lookout point for when you do venture above.

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