Laidback, casual, friendly. There’s something about life in Yowah that brings an influx of winter residents and visitors.
Historically a mining area for opals - the Yowah opal nut in particular - Yowah doesn’t have the infrastructure of larger settlements, and even the houses haven’t escaped the look which many older mining areas have of necessity being the mother of invention.
But somehow the shanty-town atmosphere just makes it more appealing. You can do some fossicking for opals (buy your licence in Cunnamulla or Quilpie before you come), go on a mining tour, have a tour with ‘the bird lady’, try to sink a ball in one of the stony browns (well, you can’t call them greens) at the 18-hole golf course, get a great view of the landscape from The Bluff (especially at sunset) and totally relax at the thermal bore baths.
And there are services. The Rural Transaction Centre is open on weekdays from 10.00am to 5.00pm The centre has tourist information, a library which is open three days a week plus computers where you can buy time to use the internet and fossicking gear for hire. The local caravan park is the Centre for Everything Else, and is open every day from 7.00am to 7.00pm.
One of the appealing aspects of Yowah is its shopping style. There are so many little shops hidden in among houses and sheds. You can just wander around town following signs (or flags) on gates to little retail outlets in and among the houses. It’s all a bit higgledy piggledy and, the truth is, lots of fun. You could spend the whole day walking around town gift shopping and find yourself in a bus, the back of a shed, a room in a house and in a train carriage as you browse among opals, jewellery, carved wood, paintings and pottery. Add to that you see cattle walking through the place from time to time, along with kangaroos and emus.
Yowah’s annual opal festival is held every year on the third weekend in July. It starts with a Friday night barbecue and on Saturday the local hall has stalls with opals, jewellery and other goods. The evening is a campoven roast dinner and of course there’s a band (this year the band is Who Killed Kenny). A licensed bar means people can kick back and have a few drinks. On Sunday the market wraps up around 2.00pm. An arts and crafts festival is held the weekend before, so anyone who comes a week early for the festival can enjoy browsing among the local craftsmanship on display.
The local bore bath is open every day and manned by volunteers. There is a hot pool where people can relax for a set time before moving to the cooler water. Disability access to the pools makes it accessible to all.
The Artesian Waters Caravan Park also has its version of the bore bath - normal baths in quaint little roofless beach houses so you can lie back and enjoy a view of the stars while you soak in the mineral-rich water!
The park has six motel rooms, sites for caravans and an unpowered camping area. Their open air restaurant is open during the tourist season on Thursday nights for a three-course meal. This is also when 100 little plastic ducks are released into the bore drain and ‘raced’ to raise money for the RFDS.
The caravan park sells unleaded and diesel fuel, does gas refills and has a mini-supermarket with fruit and vegetables, fresh meat and other select grocery lines. There’s also a simple little café where you can buy coffee and cake. Oh, and they’re the local PO as well.
Once a month on a Saturday night during the season there is a barbecue at the community hall. There is no pub in town but alcohol can be bought through YOMCSI, the Yowah Opal Miners and Community Services Inc. There’s the occasional darts afternoon and carpet bowls session.
Cunnamulla Fella Centre
Phone (within Australia) 07 4655 8470