ANDAMOOKA; OPALS, DESERT & ISOLATION
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
325Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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JOURNEY: Roxby Downs, Andamooka, Pimba, Bon Bon Rest Stop
MILEAGE: 17074 @ Roxby Downs
WEATHER: 10 Degrees @ 8.30am; cloudy
OVERNIGHT: Bon Bon Roadside Rest Stop- FREE
It was 35 kms to Andamooka where the sealed road ends. The drive in passes through the huge Andamooka Station and there are still signs of the water damage that happened when huge rains fell on the area in April. Andamooka's main/only road was built on a creek bed so the town was cut off and the road washed away in parts.
This is a special place and we are surprised that many travellers don’t bother taking the side trip here on their way north. They probably think that the road into the town is unsealed, as we did until we spoke to the information centre staff in PA.
Opal was discovered here on Andamooka Station in 1930 by 2 drovers and the location was kept secret for a number of years with them apparently selling the precious stones in the already established opal mining town of Coober Pedy. Later of course when word leaked out about the find, people from all over the world came to this remote arid place to seek their fortune. There was only a track into the mining area and no water; temperatures reach into the 50s in the summer and below 10 in the winter.
Digging for opal was done with pick and shovel but today with modern especially designed equipment the physical demand is gone and huge bores and holes are dug with bull dozers and drills. Apparently there are no more than 50 miners working their claims these days.
The town is spectacular to see with mounds of red dirt everywhere, strange galvanised dwellings that look more like sheds dug into the dirt for cooler living conditions. It seems disorganised and definitely lacks any planning or architects influence; it is like it fell into place and the miners just threw together some shelter for the short time they needed to rest.
The original homes have been preserved to some extent and are an example of man’s ability to adapt!!
We parked by the post office with its Duke’s Bottlehouse entrance and were fascinated by the interesting stream of locals stopping by; Sylvia who had lived here on and off since 1985 told us that the town was a happy place to live and the community spirit was strong and cooperative. The post office proprietor told us about the good old days when the town sweated it out in the mines by day and partied hard every night. Things were a little quieter now!
There was nowhere in town to stay in the van, the caravan park had been sold but had not reopened and the camping area was still boggy and unsafe and so we had a walk around and left this wonderful little mining town.
We stopped at Pimba briefly and met up with Robin And Graham, the 2 Queenslanders from Holland Park and they were stopping at Bon Bon rest stop along the way to Coober Pedy.
Lake Hart had a lot of water and there was evidence of recent rains along the way after Pimba.
The drive to Coober Pedy was a long one at this late stage so we planned to stop at Bon Bon Rest Stop as they had suggested. This was a fun night; about 20 caravans, buses, motorhomes and one hardy cyclist had the same idea. Darren had a good pile of wood and made a great fire and we sat around waving at the huge lit up road trains speeding by us in the night and telling and listening to the stories of one another. It was an impromptu occasion and good fun was had by all