Last time I was at Iron Knob, I felt like I was in the start of a 1950′s horror film: Blonde girl traveling alone.. having a look at the place – the only thing I was missing was running out of gas or a flat tyre… or maybe it being too late in the evening for roadside assistance to help.
But, traveling to Iron Knob population 200 (or less) this time, not so much. I was waiting for the creepy factor to kick in which never happened because there were a few tourists hanging around at the visitors centre we stopped at first.
So where the ‘bloody’ hell is Iron Knob?
Iron Knob is in South Australia about four hours drive away from Adelaide.
I’m sure in it’s day that it was a lovely little former mining town – but with that in mind, I was able to explore it without thinking that their ‘free tea and coffee’ and six minute film – meaning “I’m going to first give you some poison, and then while you watch a six minute movie, you’re gonna go to sleep… and I’m gonna move to you to the shed and hang you from your toe nails” – Come on! This is South Australia! Who hasn’t seen Wolf Creek or heard of Snowtown! No, but seriously, that didn’t happen, and i’m sure that they’re lovely people. They seemed to be lovely both times I was there
The six minute movie was kinda like watching a 1970′s regional home video made by a former porn director – there were crash zooms into the shots giving it a bit of ‘action’ and the music was… well, from the 1970′s. (On a side note, we have seriously come a long way in television.) But I can’t completely knock this video – it represents what the town was – in every way! It’s like the Brigadoon of Australia – it’s stuck in a former time and probably only has visitors every 100 years. The video has heaps of good information. Like who knew that just one person was capable to loading 70 tonnes of coal per day!
One person with a shovel! That’s insane! He must have been incredibly buff/hot! (or not – just sayin…)
The mine town would house over 1,000 workers – so they had pretty much everything they needed back then to function. It ended operation in 1999, but some of the old workers, like our volunteer tour guide stayed around to live in Iron Knob.
He also took us to the mine he worked in:
Okay – I’m about to blow your mind – get ready…
This Mine was in production since the 1800 – but, look at this mine and ask yourself how long you’d think it would take to dig a hole this big… 200 years, right? Well, this one did, but nowadays with equipment that is used to dig mines – this hole would only take ONE DAY to dig! ONE 24 hour DAY! Seriously. It’s massive. We’re standing on top of a giant hill and this hole is HUGE.
And, safety cant be taken too lightly.
Dealt with – what the heck does DEALT WITH mean? Beatings? Interrogations with a swinging light? Public hangings? Zombie Apocalypse? Free tea or coffee followed by a six minute video – Horror Film type stuff?
Anyway, Down at the bottom of the hill, used to be a l0t of houses… and these houses were flattened as the workers left so now there’s only remnants of glass and a bit of scrap metal around…
What about the children?? you ask? How do they get to school? You’re probably thinking the School of the Air - this is pretty cool (or if you probably never heard of it I’m about to surprise you again with more cool stuff!)
Back in the day kids would use pedal-powered radios to get in contact with teachers in the ‘big smokes’ around Australia. That’s how they would be taught their lessons – now, since they’re in the middle of nowhere. Twice a year, they’d be flown in by the Royal Flying Doctors and would then be able to meet their fellow remote students and socialise.
So you’re probably all like.. “woah! That’s cool..”. but no, the kids of Iron Knob had an actual school…
And I found this incredibly interesting – the explosive boxes used to blow up the mountain were ‘upcycled’ to be Sunday School chairs and tables for the little kiddies! (Hipsters would LOVE these – though, parents would freak out about it) I think it’s awesome!
And in true Aussie spirit the local school was turned into a pub for the town – and they claim that they have the best $10 Chicken Schnitzel this side of the Flinders – but, it is the only town within 70k of the closest town – and I’m guessing they’re gonna keep that title because that’s a heck of a long way to travel for dinner.
Nowadays, the kids get bussed 70k back and fourth to the nearest town – and if you’re not part of the cool kids, two hours of not sitting in the back seat would seriously suck.
In true Aussie fashion… the local coppers were run out of the town and the station was turned into a home amongst the few remaining shops that served the same ill fate.
The one thing about Iron Knob that is pretty cool – they still have an actual working golf course. We saw a guy driving at the range as we drove by!
Then, on the way home, we found a poor little guy got run over by someone – it was my very first bearded dragon I’ve ever seen
Then, as we drove away… we came across another native – this one poisonous.
And then we met the roadkill’s cousin – this one alive!
Luckily for us (and the dragon) we only passed about five cars from Iron Knob en-route to Whyalla – so we could stop for a photo op! They are just gorgeous creatures! And non poisonous which is a bonus in my book!
Here’s the little guy’s close up!