Australia is well-known around the world as being the country to house the most dangerous animals on the planet but, upon visiting or speaking with the locals, you quickly realize your chances of interacting with these creatures are slim to none. The real story is all of the unique landscapes the country has on offer, including several quirky and strange small towns. And it’s no surprise that these towns can be found deep in the Australian Outback and in the island state of Tasmania. My favorite among them below.
Coober Pedy, South Australia
What do you do when average temperatures range from 35-45° C (95-115° F) in the shade and the annual rainfall is only about 5 inches per year? Live under ground, of course! Or at least, that’s what the residents of this small outback town do. Coober Pedy is an opal mining town and the residents have opted to work and live below ground these days.
The images above show the mining tunnels as well as what the homes looked like years ago and the more modern updates. Coober Pedy residents design their homes with giant tunnel drillers and enjoy regulated temperatures year round. While the only natural lighting comes through the front door, under ground home owners sleep well in total darkness and limited phone service. It isn’t my idea of the perfect house, but for the 3,500 residents of Coober Pedy, this is home.
Woomera, South Australia
Located approximately 450km north of Adelaide, this town is almost haunting, a town seemingly frozen in time. This town was established as the “closed town” for military families between 1947 and 1982. The name Woomera actually refers to the larger Defense system testing range. During its heyday, close to 7,000 people lived in the town, including American military. Bowling alleys and movie theaters were built as forms of entertainment and still remain today.
The town is like a ghost town, with a select few military members allowed to live there these days. A museum and a few exhibits are present for visitors interested in learning more about the town with growth and expansion plans that never came to be.
Known as the “Town of Topiary”, Railton is located south of Devonport, in the north-central part of Tasmania. Railton is home to over 100 topiary characters and approximately 1,200 people. Most of these imaginative bush and tree creations can be found along the town’s main street, with a topiary walking guide available at the local shops.
Not far from Railton lies the town of Sheffield. Just as the topiary is to Railton, the mural is to Sheffield. Every year the town hosts a Mural Festival and art competition and the winners are prominently displayed in the town. Sheffield’s mural obsession originally began in hopes of promoting art and tourism and now attracts an estimated 200,000 people to the town annually.
Exploring some of the many urban and rural regions has been one of my favorite pastimes in Australia and I imagine this list is just the beginning of the strange and beautiful found throughout the country.