If Queen Elizabeth II had ever been to Andamooka, perhaps she would have thought differently about the Andamooka Opal given to her as a gift in 1954 on her first visit to Australia. The opal weighed 203 carats and glistened in blues, reds and greens. It was the result of an extensive search for the most beautiful opal in the state, yet Andamooka itself is a misshapen collection of tin sheds, dugouts and fibros in the middle of the desert. With constant water shortages, no local council and an all-consuming drive to find opals, residents have become experts in making do. The town offers old-fashioned outback hospitality to an increasing number of tourists.
Dukes Bottlehouse Motel (incorporating post office), 275 Opal Creek Blvd; (08) 8672 7007
Nearby national parks
Opal showrooms: showrooms in town include Andamooka Gems and Trains, attached to Dukes Bottlehouse Motel, with opals and a model railway.
Historic miners huts: a handful of old semi-dugouts line the creek bed in the centre of town, complete with old tools and furnishings. Access is by tour, which includes a visit to an underground mine; details from post office.
Cemetery: with miners' nicknames on the headstones.
Fossicking: noodling in unclaimed mullock dumps surrounding town; details from post office.
Lake Torrens: one of the state's largest salt lakes stretches away to the south-east; 4WD recommended for access.
Eco-friendly activities around town
What's on around town
Market and barbecue: local art and craft; Sat long weekends (Easter, June and Oct).