Andamooka is another of South Australia's eye-opening towns, once the home of hard core, if optimistic, miners. We landed here in 2005 and stayed overnight, on the final leg of a Stawell Aviation safari. I'll never forget just about choking on my bacon next morning when Stawell pilot, Val Kennedy emerged from having checked the weather, saying something along the lines of "If you lot don't want to get stuck here for the next fortnight in the mud, we'd better high-tail it out to the airport and take off. It's starting to spit." What about my bacon? Anyway, quite right she was, too. By the time my wheels lifted off the quickly softening clay strip, I was glad I'd paid some sort of vague attention to my instructor way back who'd mentioned a soft field take-off.
Andamooka is not as buzzing as it used to be back when a worthy haul of Andamooka opal might still be on the cards if you stuck at it long enough. Now, many of the residends here have opted for a more secure income and spend their days working for the nearby lucrative Olympic Dam copper uranium mine or at Roxby Downs.
A wander down the main street of Andamooka still reveals a few examples of the traditional style of houses, dug into the side of the hill in an effort to escape the unrelenting heat. 40 degree summer days out here are not uncommon; hence the inevitable thirst of those who hang around. The conversations you'll get yourself into at the local pub will be different, let me put it that way. Mind you, that goes for every outback pub in the entire country, so take a moment with the locals wherever you are, and just have a listen to their story.
Andamooka airstrip - details in ERSA
Nearest fuel: Olympic Dam, prior permission required, details in ERSA.