Mickey McKenzie (L) and Tyson Johnson want a new pool in their outback town (Supplied: Travis Hague)
A grassroots campaign has begun at Andamooka, a town in the South Australian outback, to try to raise $100,000 to fund a new public pool.
The nearest pool to Andamooka is at Roxby Downs, a 30-minute drive south.
The town used to have a pool at the local school, but it closed due to community concerns over ongoing costs. It has a splash pad — a shallow water area for children to cool down during hot days.
Sydney has more than 80 public pools, while Adelaide has roughly 25.
Andamooka can become extremely hot during summer, with it frequently passing 40 degrees Celsius.
Mickey McKenzie, an 11-year-old Andamooka local, said on those days there was not much to do in the town except “stay inside” and “play games”.
“Every kid needs a pool,” Mickey said.
Another local youth, Kevin Hurrell, 11, usually visits the Roxby Downs pool when he is in the town.
Andamooka children have voiced their support for a new pool in their town. (Supplied: Travis Hague)
“When it’s summer, we usually go most of the time if we’re here or in Whyalla,” Kevin said.
“We’re up in the desert and it gets too hot.
Meanwhile, Tyson Johnson, 12, said the pool would help with his swimming lessons.
His mum, Chelsea Parker, said a pool would be great for the whole town.
“It would help attract families to our town; it would help boost our businesses,” she said.
The push for a pool
John Smirniof is a local publican who kickstarted the campaign.
He said there was a tyranny of distance which prevented a lot of trips to the pool.
“The families, if they want to take their kids there, they’ve got to drive 30 kilometres there and back,” he said.
“Last month, we had nearly three weeks straight of nearly 45 degrees.
Johnny Smirniof plans to write to businesses at Roxby Downs, asking them to contribute to the campaign. (Supplied: Travis Hague)
The campaign is still in its infancy, but Mr Smirniof said there were big plans to try to raise the money.
“There are a few companies [at Roxby Downs] that I’m sure will help us and even donate some funds towards the pool,” he said.
“I’ve just put a jar at the front of the bar and we’ve already raised over $2500 and that’s within a couple of weeks.”
There are also plans to have sausage sizzles to try to raise the money to build the pool.
Mr Smirniof acknowledged that the pool had a high price tag for such a small community.
“But we have people here in the town who are willing to help,” he said.
“We’ve got earth movers who will donate their time and dig the hole and we know another guy who puts swimming pools in and he’ll come up and do it for nothing.
“We’ve got a lot of back up”
A word of warning for Andamooka
A jar at Mr Smirniof’s pub is just one way the town is collecting money for the pool. (Supplied: Travis Hague)
Cecilia Woolford, chairwoman of the South Australian Outback Communities Authority, said Andamooka should be wary of the costs of maintaining a pool in the outback.
“I can only encourage them, if that’s their thinking, but we [the OCA] would be saying, look at the lifecycle costs.
“How are you actually going to manage it? Is it the best value for money for that township?
“The costs of chemicals alone would be extraordinary and I don’t know that you can recoup that from the travelling public,” she said.
“It would probably be less expensive to buy a new bus and have the school bus going to Roxby Downs.”
She said the town’s award-winning splash pad was a great alternative to a pool.
However, Donna Waters, the Andamooka Youth Group Coordinator, said the splash pad was expensive and didn’t compare to a real pool.