180km north of Port Augusta I decided to hang a right and call out to Andamooka. A friend from Collie WA has a house there although he was back in Collie at the time. Another Collie friend says it’s her favourite place so thought I would check it out.
You go through Woomera and Roxbury Downs to get to Andamooka and it is about 125km from the turnoff. The road was very good. It’s an opal mining town. Opals were discovered in 1931 and as word spread of the find people came to peg their claims. Housing, initially in tents were established. There are all forms of housing today with anything from what I would describe as humpies and caravans to modern houses. Unlike Coober Pedy where some houses are built underground, some of the housing is built into the sides of hills in a step like fashion. There are no large rocks in the Andamooka area so there is nothing to support a roof hence they are built into the side of hills rather than underground.
Andamooka streets are really just dirt tracks with no set town planning. Andamooka is a quirky little town that looks a bit haphazard in design. Really the only operating business of note is the Post Office/Museum/Motel. Both pubs in town have ceased trading and you are unable to buy fuel here. I liked the place though. It had a certain end of the earth charm to it and if you wanted to hide from the world then you couldn’t go past this place (literally).
Further back is Roxbury Downs and the Olympic Dam Mine. I would have liked to have done a mine tour but wrong day of the week and wrong end of the season. Roxbury was a typical small mining town with no personality.
Woomera, although a defence town was well worth checking out. The museum – there were 2 – were both excellent and interesting to look through. There is so much we were never taught in school (or was it that I just wasn’t paying attention?) that unless you visit these places you have no idea what happened in the past and more importantly why.