About 600km north of Adelaide in the South Australian outback, locals in the remote town of Andamooka have spent the past year fundraising for a new public pool.
It gets hot in the old opal mining town, really hot.
So hot that the local publican, John Smirnios, reckons he sets bags of ice on his bar fridges to keep them from overheating in the peak of summer.
“The last couple of weeks here have been over 40C every day,” says John, owner of Andamooka’s Tuckabox Hotel.
“The poor kids sit under the air-conditioning with nothing to do. It’s too hot for the playground or skate park. If we had a pool it would be very nice.”
John is a member of the Andamooka Progress and Opal Miners Association and is driving efforts to raise $100,000 to build a new public swimming pool for the town.
About $20,000 has been raised over the past 12 months or so through a number of community events, raffles and auctions. John has a donation tin sitting on his front bar while miners have also donated opals to the cause.
Andamooka once had a swimming pool at the local school but it closed down due to cost issues. A small splash pad was made for children, but John says a proper swimming pool would be good for tourism and would provide a public place to escape the heat. He would also like to see an information centre established in the town to benefit tourists and short-stay visitors.
“The nearest pool is at Roxby Downs which is a 60km round trip,” John says.
There is a good chance that Andamooka, which lies 40km east of the Olympic Dam copper mine and Roxby Downs, is one of the hottest places on earth during summer heatwaves.
So far this month Andamooka has endured 13 days of 40C-plus weather, while tomorrow (January 23) could see the record broken for its hottest day since records began in 1969, although this 47.8C record was matched over a week ago on January 15. Tomorrow’s temperature is forecast to reach 47C.
Andamooka has no local council to provide basic infrastructure and services, instead falling under the Outback Communities Authority. The town relies on the dedication of the Andamooka Progress and Opal Miners Association to carry out community projects and improvements.
The association’s vice chair Ian Thompson says the new swimming pool is one of the association’s major projects, alongside plans for a new community centre, kitchen and men’s shed facilities.
He commends the efforts of locals who put in their time generously to raise money and see projects through.
The association is made up of volunteers and a small number of paid members. It has delivered many community infrastructure projects over the years, including the upgrade of the local caravan and camping site, and playground.
It also implements a successful Work for the Dole scheme which has lead to many improvements including the refurbishment of Andamooka’s historic mining cottages.
“We have a population of about 500 … we do not have one public servant in this town apart from at the school,” Ian says. “That’s a good indication of a community looking after itself.”
Header image: Tuckabox Hotel owner John Smirnios with Andamooka children who would like to see a new swimming pool established in the town. Photo by Travis Hague.
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