Historical living: mining Coober Pedy #blog

August 13, 2017 Tara

Around 850km from Adelaide in South Australia’s outback sits the mining town of Coober Pedy. The fields of opal were discovered in 1913 and there were 70 individual opal fields, which produced more opal than anywhere else in the world. Mining is no longer allowed in the area, but the history is aplenty.

The remote town experiences scorching hot summer days and excruciatingly cold winter nights, so much so that residents were forced to take cover underground. It’s essentially a hidden city, with underground churches, hotels, bars, and restaurants. In fact, it just happens to be home to the world’s only grassless golf course. The summer shade brings temperatures of up to 45 degrees which is what forced over half of the population underground.

In the early days, dugouts were simply holes. They had been dug in the hopes of finding opal and that produced a sufficient living space for miners. Since the labour was back breaking the smaller the home the better. However, as more people dug the homes began to expand.

Perhaps the most well-known home is Faye’s. Initially, it was just one room and the home of a mail truck driver. Faye Nayler purchased it from him and today that one room is the kitchen. The home as it stands today was built over a decade and by hand. Faye and two friends constructed it using just shovels and picks. It’s now three bedrooms (including walk in wardrobes), has a living room, and even features a wine cellar and bar. The good news is you can visit! Spoiler alert: it has a swimming pool and a billiards room. Faye is still alive but the home has been taken over.

You may be conjuring up images of a dark and dank space, but these dugouts are anything but that.

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