Roxby Downs, the town built to service BHP’s Olympic Dam mine, celebrates 30 years – by Sarah Tomlinson and Patrick Martin (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – November 18, 2018)

The town of Roxby Downs in South Australia’s far north is so young, it has never buried a single local resident. Nestled on hot red sand 563 kilometres from the creature comforts of Adelaide, Roxby Downs officially opened on November 5, 1988 to service BHP’s Olympic Dam mine — one of the largest of its kind in the world.

Now 30 years old, the town boasts a pool, numerous sporting facilities, a supermarket, jewellery store, theatre and gallery, community radio station, and even an old video chain store that has been converted into a community hub for the many young families who occupy the town.

It also has its own rugby team, The Barbarians, whose success is only hampered by distance and the availability of having other teams to play. The young town even has a cemetery, but as Roxby Downs residents come from far and wide, they are laid to rest elsewhere — only pets inhabit this cemetery.

With an average resident age of 29 years, a sign in the main street boasting of 300 jobs currently available, the sound of machinery working on an extension to the local school, and minimal crime, this mining town is faring better than most.

‘This is paradise’

It was uncertain times that led many to come and seek work when word got out that a new mine was opening up north in the mid-1980s. At the time, the town was a cattle station and the first workers lived in caravans at Olympic Dam, once a livestock watering hole on the property’s pastoral lease.

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