I have been to a few places in my life that I have thought, “I really only ever need to see this place once”. You know, to be able to say that I have been there. You never expect to go back, or even care to. One of these places for me was Roxby Downs.
The town is famous for two things, a Uranium mine, and the Sturt’s Desert Pea, a flower that grows wild amongst the desert sand dunes of the area. The Olympic Dam mine is one of, or soon might be the biggest, open cut mine in the world. Most of the town itself, as it stands now, is no more than two decades old. It feels like a plastic town, a façade. People fly in and live here for 10 days at a time. 10 days on, 10 days off, then fly out again. We stumble upon the cemetery and all we can see is one grave. ONE! No character.
Not a place worth visiting twice, until, we did. In search of the very beautiful wild flower, the Sturt’s desert pea, we rolled into Roxby Downs once again. Last time we were only after the flower. We found fields of them scattered in various places near the town. This time around we were after photos with people and to try and hear the personal stories that they have to tell. As it happens, there were very few of the wild flowers around this spring, little rain and the unseasonal cold weather were not ideal conditions for their growth.
With very few flowers to find,we spent more time getting to know the locals. And how friendly and accommodating they were. We spoke with the brigade captain at the Roxby Downs CFS station. There is a neat little patch that grows wild out the front of the station. We also see a few flowers outside the local school. A visit to our old hunting ground outside of town provided little more that memories of the splendour of the previous spring, so we continued on to the nearby Andamooka.
Here we met Frank and his friendly dog. Frank was from Prussia but ‘is now Australian”. He also “fought in the war for Australia” and “fought in the war for England” before suffering from a stroke. He swears by the Andamooka fresh air to keep his 89 year old body young.