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Business Traveller - - UPFRONT -

DON’T, WHAT­EVER YOU DO, ASK FOR A ROOM

WITH A VIEW at the Coober Pedy Ex­pe­ri­ence mo­tel. A former opal mine, its rooms are un­der­ground, carved out of sand­stone. Like most of this desert town in South Aus­tralia, ac­com­mo­da­tion is subter­ranean in or­der to es­cape the bru­tal tem­per­a­tures, which can reach 50°C.

The town was built upon the opal in­dus­try, which took off fol­low­ing the dis­cov­ery of a gem in 1915, and its moon-like land­scape has been the back­drop for films in­clud­ing Mad Max Be­yond Thun­der­dome, Pitch Black and The Ad­ven­tures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. There are now around 1,700 per­ma­nent res­i­dents.

One of those is Merv Richards. “Nowhere in the world is there a place where you can eat, drink, and sleep un­der­ground like in Coober Pedy,” he says. “Most homes don’t have win­dows, so they're sound­proof. You can have the Rolling Stones come and play, and your neigh­bours wouldn't com­plain. ”

Good idea, Merv. Per­haps the Stones could drop in on their next world tour?

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