Roxby Downs is located in central South Australia, 570km north of Adelaide. It is not on the main road through South Australia and therefore it is not on the average tourist itinerary. But that doesn’t mean that it has nothing to offer for those who are daring enough to travel to this little desert town. There are unique experiences, community hotspots and desert landscapes to discover and explore.
Things To Do in Roxby Downs
Olympic Dam Mine Tour
Roxby Downs was built in 1986 as a township for the nearby Olympic Dam Mine which required thousands of workers to produce copper, uranium, gold and silver. The Olympic Dam mine is one of the largest underground mines in the world and it extends to almost 1km below the surface.
While tourists are not permitted into the underground workings, they are able to take a virtual tour of the underground tunnels before a bus tour around the surface processing plants. The concentrator, smelter and refinery are where the red rock is turned to precious metals and minerals. With the increase in electric vehicles around the world there has been an increase in the demand for copper, which is the primary metal that is produced by the Olympic Dam Mine.
Tours run on Wednesdays between March and October. They can be booked at the Roxby Downs Visitors Centre and are priced at $25 for adults, $20 for concession and free for children 4-12. Children under 4 are not able to join the tour. Long trousers and closed in footwear must be worn, and you will be issued with other protective clothing upon arrival.
The Emu Trail is a 1hr hike around Roxby Downs and the local sand dunes. There are signs to direct you along the trail as you explore the back streets of the town. You might even meet some friendly locals! Keep an eye out for small wildlife when walking through the sand dune areas. There are sleepy lizards, busy ants and curious birds to find for those with an eye for detail. Make sure to take a water bottle as the heat can be taxing, even in the cooler months.
Arid Recovery Tour
This desert park is a fenced arid landscaped that is protected from introduced predators such as feral cats, foxes and rabbits. Native species have been reintroduced and research is being done to determine ways that they can survive in today’s environment. A limited number of the feral species have been released into the park to see how they interact with the wildlife and to learn ways to improve the native species chances of survival when they come face to face with the introduced species.
Arid Recovery runs sunset tours from April to October where you can watch a beautiful sunset over the sand dunes before going to see the nocturnal wildlife from park view points. Tours can be booked through the Roxby Downs visitor centre with pricing set at $40 for adults, $30 for concession and free for children under 12 (with a paying adult).
The small historic mining town is located 32km east of Roxby Downs. The town has a long opal mining history where the people lived for over a century in inhospitable conditions in order to find the motherlode. There is a parking area with old pieces of opal mining equipment located on the drive in to town. You can sit in the seat where a pioneer miner once spent the day working the field.
People lived in dug outs to avoid the harsh Australian weather. You can visit the old dug outs on the main road through Andamooka. You can park your car at the town hall and walk across the street to the dug outs. There are signs out the front of each one where you can learn about the living conditions and the people who lived there.
The best places to eat on your visit are the Andamooka Yacht Club, a modern cafe with excellent coffee, and the Tuckerbox Restaurant, a quintessential outback pub with home cooked meals.
Roxby Link Recreation Centre
Roxby Link is a first class recreation facility and a rare find in for a small remote township. There is a gym, swimming pool, squash courts, a basketball court, art gallery, cinema and library within it’s grounds.
Swimming Pools and Splash Pad
There is a 25m outdoor swimming pool with a waterslide and shallow kids area, a 16m indoor pool and a splash pad area for interactive water play. It is the perfect place to cool off on a hot summers day. BBQ’s and picnic tables are within the grounds making it the perfect place to spend a few hours enjoying the facilities. Entry costs $6 for adults and $5 for kids.
Roxby Downs boasts a 60 seat cinema with 3-4 movies on show each week. Tickets, drinks and popcorn can be bought from the pool kiosk around the back of the leisure centre. Tickets are $14 for adults and $10 for kids. Tuesday’s are cheaper with all tickets $8.
The visitors centre is a great starting point for tourists. The attendants can book you in to local tours and can provide information on upcoming events. There are also regional souvenirs and locally made gifts available for purchase and complimentary maps to all areas of South Australia.
Roxby Down Race Day
Every year in August the Roxby Downs race track comes to life for the annual race day. It is one of the best times to come to Roxby downs as all the people in the region come along for the day, with most dressed to the nines. There is a best dressed competition with the stage filled with well presented competitors. Generally there are 4-5 horse races on the day with bookies on site to take your bets. Entry costs $30 at the gate or $25 if bought in advance.
Maree Camel Races
Maree is a small town approximately 200km from Roxby Downs via the Borefield and Oodnadatta Tracks. The races are part of the Australian camel racing circuit and are held in July each year. There are 4-6 races and there are bookies on site if you are keen for a bet. There is limited food available but you can still buy a pie or steak sandwich to sustain you. Pub meals and basic groceries can be bought in town.
Accommodation is busy but there is camping available or, if you book far enough in advance, rooms at the local pub. Ensure you have enough fuel with you for the return journey as the prices in Maree are steep. Sunscreen and a hat are recommended to prevent sunburn during the day, and a warm fleecy coat for the evening as the temperature can drop down as far as zero degrees.
Places to Eat
Roxby Downs Chinese Restaurant
This casual dining restaurant offers a variety of Asian dishes including all your favourites like Mongolian lamb and honey chicken. Serving sizes are large and perfect for sharing. They also offer takeaway if you would rather dine at home.
The Dunes café is located in the Roxby Recreation Centre next to the visitors centre. They are open for breakfast and lunch, offering a selection of contemporary Australian meals, cakes, coffees and deserts. There is a children’s play area for under 5’s located to the left of the café for families.
This unassuming takeaway offers some of the best food in town. The cakes and pies in the bakery part of the shop are the delectable. Since the introduction of the takeaway section in 2018 you can also purchase fish and chips, burgers and other popular takeaway items. There are two tables inside, but most people take their food home.
Black Stump Takeaway
Located directly across from Woolworths, their location cannot be beat. They offer fried chicken, burgers, sandwiches, milkshakes and coffees.
The only chain fast food outlet in town. Subway is well known for their made to order sandwiches.
A small restaurant offering a mix of Australian and international dishes, including steaks, pastas and curries. On Wednesday they have $12 chicken parmigiana. Dine in, take away and delivery options are available.
Pie R Squared
A takeaway pizza shop run by a local husband and wife duo. Located next to The Club, the pizzas come in 12 and 18 inch sizes and are piled with toppings and plenty of cheese. Pick-up and delivery are available.
One of the two pubs in town, The Club has a menu that regularly changes offering Australian pub classics and internationally inspired dishes such as hoisin pork bao buns and New Orleans gumbo. There is a restaurant within the establishment where you can get table service, or you can sit in any of the more casual areas of the pub and order meals from the counter. The menu is the same and it is only the ambiance that differs.
The Tavern is the second of the two pubs in Roxby Downs. The menu includes quintessential Australian pub meals in large portion sizes. It is one of the few places in town that offer breakfast, however this is only available on weekdays. Order from the counter and your food will be delivered straight to your table. On the other side of the establishment you will find a bar and the new outdoors entertainment area.