Andamooka and the races
Trip Start Apr 14, 2006
11Trip End Apr 24, 2006
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Invited Mick and Squid to come and have dinner with us then showered and went back to the hotel.
Mandi had a fun time at the races
Mandi: The second time I went to Andamooka was early on a Saturday morning - I'd dropped the men at the mine at eight, I think, and was in Andamooka by 8:30. I drove or walked all around for about an hour and didn't see a living thing - not even a dog or a chicken - and in the little "reserve" where some of the original houses are preserved as a sort of historical monument there was no sign of human life except for a bathtub full of empty booze bottles. It was like a ghost town - certainly felt really scarily post-holocaust. I was expecting mutants to burst out of the shanties at any moment. Eventually at about 9:30 the Post Office opened and when I commented on the "quietness" the postmistress looked at me oddly and said, "It's Saturday morning!" as if I must be mad to even think that anyone would be anything other than severely hung over. But the main thing is that it's a sad and desperate community - Roxby feels cheerful, with its residents prosperous and busy and cheerful, Andamooka just sad and lost and severely hung over. So for once I'm on the side of the Big Corporations at least when it comes to building communities in isolated places
The other fun thing was The Races. We had met up with a young female engineer over breakfast one day and she told us she was staying over Saturday as her company was sponsoring one of the races so of course I had to go along and see. She (Julie) and I had both wondered a little whether we should dress up as Australians take horse-racing very seriously - she in particular wondered whether she ought to hear a dress and a hat in order to hand over the prize for her race, but thank goodness in the end we both turned up in jeans and bush-hats or we'd have looked like right wallies. The race-track is a full-size one, but includes an extra sort of paddock at the finishing post, in which all the other events which aren't races are held. Over the course of the day there were only six actual races, one a camel race, (who race quite enthusiastically, to my surprise, but looking somehow like marionettes) and the rest were all gymkhana-type things into which the entire community and all its four-legged creatures entered with gusto. The charming thing was you'd see the same big rangy skewbald with a ten-year-old up doing bending or thread-the-needle or something, then with a two-year-old up in a leading-rein class, and finally in one of the races, still wearing the same big comfortable saddle, with Dad aboard. And all in the blowing, romantic red dust - it was a great day. I even placed a bet, for the very first time in my life, because I knew the nice country bookies wouldn't laugh at me. I bet $5 on the strength of the name (also happened to be the favourite, and No 2) and he won, at $1.50 so I won a total of $2.50! This went totally to my head and I bet again on the main race. There had been another race in between, in which No 2 had also won, so of course I came over all mathematical and although I liked No 2 again, I bet on No 5 and he came third last (shades on Monterey) but No 2 won yet again. So I lost my $5, leaving me a net total of $2.50 down - the last of the big-time gamblers, that's me!!