How to beat the heat: Move underground

With temperatures set to soar across the country again this weekend, beaches, lakes and pools will make for popular refuges.

But in the remote South Australian town of Coober Pedy, many of its 3500 residents will be found underground.

While temperatures there are forecast to climb well into the mid-40s this weekend, deputy mayor Mike Maylin said sweltering heat never caused much of a fuss.

“It’s the same every year from November to December,” he said.

“(But) the days are too hot to work in the opal mines so a lot of people like to go away around this time.”

Underground Bed and Breakfast owner Ken Male said city-dwellers who complained about one or two days of heat should try living in Coober Pedy.

“They're softies, they need to harden up,” he laughed. “But to be fair, I would rather be out here when it’s hot (because) in the cities (people) are not really prepared for those sort of temperatures.”

In Coober Pedy the mercury hit 45 degrees last Sunday, 46 on Monday, 45 on Tuesday, 35 on Wednesday and 38 on Thursday.

Today, temperatures are expected to reach 45.

Cr Maylin said those who stayed had air-conditioning or like him, lived in underground dugouts - a popular choice for many of the town’s residents and businesses.

 “They’re popular because they stay around 23 degrees all year around, they are environmentally-friendly and they help save a lot of money on electricity,” he said.

Even the deputy mayor’s dog has its own kennel dugout, complete with a bath tub full of water.

“It keeps him happy and it’s all just a part of the lifestyle out here.”

Mr Male is also accustomed to the hot lifestyle but said the current heatwave had been quite draining.

“We are used to having high temperatures out here but not for such long periods of time,” he said.

“It’s normally only 40 degrees for a few days at a time and then we get a break, but not this time.’’

Mr Male, who runs the business with wife Anna, tries to get things done first thing in the morning.

“After that it’s just too hot… you have to go underground and put your feet up. We play some cards, do some paperwork and maybe even have a rest.”

Mr Male said even though about half Coober Pedy’s population lived below the surface, a sense of community still thrived.

 “We have underground pubs, galleries and even churches,” he said.

“And everything above ground is definitely air-conditioned so there is still lots to do.”

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