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
Though you can stay above ground, the Desert Cave Hotel has dugout rooms, as well as underground shops, a bar, and opal-viewing area.
Where to eat
The lookout has a 360-degree view of the town, while the cafe has Belgian waffles.
What started as an opal mine was converted into a museum that’s described as looking like the surface of the moon.
If you’ve always wondered what goes on in a mine, you can take a trip down to Tom’s Working Opal Mine, where you’ll learn how a tunneling machine works.
What to see
If you’ve seen Beyond Thunderdome, you’ve seen a portion of the Breakways, the colorful, low hills that “broke away” from the Stuart Range.
There are several underground churches in Coober Pedy, including the Serbian Orthodox one, which is the largest and has intricate carvings.
Because it’s 1,553 miles long, Coober Pedy is obviously not the only place you can see the Dingo Fence. It keeps the wild dogs out of the southeast part of the continent, where many sheep and cattle graze.
It sort of sounds like playing golf in one big sand trap: The Coober Pedy Opal Fields Golf Course is completely grassless.
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