While it’s important for BHP to recognise its history, the company remains focused on the future. Remarkably, about 70% of the ore body at Olympic Dam is still available to be developed.
Olympic Dam has a bright future that will support the richness and diversity that makes up the community of Roxby Downs, and contribute significantly to South Australia for many years to come.
A Tale of Two Gold Diggers
Jan & Bluey Lavrick – a Tale of Two Gold Diggers!
by Craig Lavrick
It all began in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.
‘Jan’ – Janet Dawn Houston, and ‘Bluey’ – Robert or ‘Bob’ Lavrick were both born and raised here.
Rambunctious Bluey worked as a WMC contractor – maintaining the major miner’s drill rigs, while Jan tended to Kalgoorlie’s sick and frail as a doting Sister at the Regional Hospital, while lovingly mothering (and often tending to the battle scars) of her two rapscallion boys – Clive and me (Craig).
Forever the pioneer, my Dad Bluey heard of an opportunity at South Australia’s Olympic Dam.
After a few lengthy chats with Mum, and true to Bluey nature, they decided ‘OD’ would be the setting for the next Lavrick adventure. Bluey arrived in Olympic Dam in March 1979; and was then joined by the family one year later.
Forever the ‘bush baby’, my Mum, Jan absolutely loved Olympic Dam, although she had quite the conniption the day our new caravan was haphazardly delivered and became dislodged from its jacks.
“A minor setback” according to Bluey, and before too long, both the van (and Jan) were upright and settling into new surrounds.
Despite the quiet Australian backdrop, Jan and Bluey led a very hectic lifestyle, establishing Lavrick Engineering and thereby undertaking all surface vehicle maintenance for residents and Western Mining’s extensive fleet. The pair never shied from challenges, and also established R Lavrick Nominees, enabling them to act as agents on behalf of Budget Rent a Car, CIG Gas (now known as BOC Gases), Coates Equipment Hire and Opal Air. Their professional and personal parental plates were beyond loaded, yet late in 1985, Jan and Bluey decided to become distributors and open a BP Service Station on the aptly named Olympic Way – where it ALL happened – literally!
As with everything in their young lives, my Mum and Dad were very successful – largely because they believed in themselves, and the importance of unity – ever so prevalent within their new, small town. In the early days, they generously hosted BBQs almost every single night, within the caravan park’s BBQ park – fortuitously positioned behind the convivial confines of the Lavrick and Perkins collective. Everyone was invited. And I mean EVERYONE!
While in OD, my parents enjoyed so many adventures, while seizing countless opportunity. They loved entertaining friends – either at home, or the ‘second home’ – Lavrick Engineering’s bar, also located on Olympic Way. The keg provided a seeming endless stream of port – the fashionable libation-of-the-time, and every get together typically featured nimble-fingered Bluey, and his trusty guitar, inviting all to join in with Johnny Cash renditions.
There were countless journeys… to Andamooka, The Opal Motel and The Tucker Box Hotel (…and subsequent ‘journeys’ to the local Andamooka Police Station)!!! ☺
And who could forget Andamooka Station? Jan and Bluey’s treasured friends, Margaret and Barry Durman lived there. They deeply treasured these times, recounting the memories with family and friends, whenever they had the chance. Their mutual love and affection for their time at Olympic Dam was obvious, undeniable and enduring.
Then there’s the Andamooka Football Club.
Predictably, Jan and Bluey put their heart and soul into the Club. They simply LOVED their fellow revellers, the Club’s staunch comradery and loyalty, and its infectious, ardent spirt.
My Dad – ‘Bluey’ was taken from us way too early. Passing in 2002, after a long and courageous fight with cancer. A life cut WAY too short, yet an ‘innings’ filled with LIFETIMES of enthusiasm and love – for his family and all of the neighbouring families – HIS commUNITY! He was forever quipping: “I’m here for a good time, not a long time!” And there were SO MANY good times! ☺
Sadly, my beautiful Mum – Jan, passed away just three years later (in late 2005), after an exhausting yet brave fight with cancer, while also nursing Dad throughout his illness. My Mum was extraordinary. She was loving and generous, razor-smart, incredibly brave and gritty, with an infectious laugh. A dear family friend – Heli Leggerini, said this of my Mum at her Esperance home shortly before she passed:
“The woman who lives within these walls leaves a profound effect on all who enter her home. It’s a privilege to know her.”
Before Mum and Dad’s passing, they handed the community and entrepreneurial baton to Kathy and John Wilby to preserve their business endeavours, while peppering each business with their unique touches – building upon and continuing the community spirt that Jan and Bluey sparked over three decades ago.
And just like Mum and Dad, Kathy and John met in the bush, fell in love and created their own empire.
It’s a true honour and privilege to have lived within and been a member of the Olympic Dam/Roxby Downs community. I can also attest with absolute sincerity that my Mum and Dad would be so delighted to see their legacy upheld through the dedication of fine custodians in Kathy and John Wilby.
As Jan and Bluey’s youngest son, all I can say is: “What a ride!”
My heart is so very full, and proud to know that the Lavrick spirit endures within Olympic Dam and Roxby Downs, and that the Wilbys continue to impart ‘unity’ into commUNITY.
Now it’s time to go ahead and make my Mum and Dad proud, by enjoying a cold frothy (or shandy), and to light up the dancefloor with a Johnny Cash classic.
Cheers to YOU all.
Cheers to Andamooka and Roxby Downs
And Cheers to Jan and Bluey.
What can you do with 4 million tonnes of copper?
Over the past 30 years, Olympic Dam has produced an estimated 4 million tonnes of copper – enough to produce 1 trillion smartphones and tablets, 50 million electric vehicles or 800,000 wind turbines. They are some pretty impressive stats – but why don’t you share your successes over the past 30 years? Tell us your story of celebration.
BHP is a global organisation. When acquiring the Olympic Dam asset, BHP brought all of its experience and ingenuity to support the long-term development of this unique geological resource.
"Big Hearts in Roxby Downs"
WMC and Roxby Downs awesome residents and friends dig in to bring me home! X
Times of growth
Like any business, there are times for planning and then there are times for growth. What’s unique story about Olympic Dam and Roxby Downs is that these two elements are inextricably linked. A picture tells a thousand words.
The World Was Watching
With the find of the mineral deposit being so large and so unique, the world soon started to ask questions: ’Where is Roxby Downs and what is at Olympic Dam?’ Many delegations were set up with international companies wanting to see for themselves what all the fuss was around this unique discovery.
30 years of happy memories
Well, my family is also celebrating our 30th year, as we are now into our 30th year of living here in Roxby Downs!
We came here as a young engaged couple in our 20s, married and raised three children here, who are now all adults.
Many stories to tell, but not for the public’s ears! There are lots of other long-time locals that could share a few, I’m sure. We have seen people come and go, and come back
again over the years.
We’ve seen a lot of changes in the township and the shops. In the early years we had more live bands at the pubs and ‘Boogie in the Bush,’ an annual event held in July each year. Rodeos, carnivals and the circus a couple of times a year. (There used to be) a caravan park at Olympic Dam, and the Roxby Downs Caravan Park next to the footy oval. There were always parties and BBQs going on, everyone knew everyone and we all felt safe, left our homes and cars unlocked, it was a different Roxby Downs back then.
We have met many wonderful people over the years and they have become lifelong friends; some are still here, some have left. When my first child was born in 1992, he was one of the very few boys born out of 90 of us that were pregnant at the same time in the town. The majority (of those babies) were girls. Roxby Downs got a mention as the highest ratio of women being pregnant in Australia at that time for our population!
We’ve had 30 summers here and love the bush, the beautiful night skies and the wildlife - the odd emu in my front yard over the years, as I have bush land behind me and a nature pathway next to me, so I get the odd visit.
Roxby Downs has always been home to me and my family, and when the day comes that we leave, my memories will be forever etched in my mind and heart.
Happy 30th Anniversary to everyone who has been a part of this town over the last 30 years and before!
Picture shows Annette Jackson and Carol Beenham at Olympic Dam Mine in 1989.
Where we got our name
Olympic Dam was named after a nearby dam located on the Roxby Downs pastoral lease. The dam was built in 1956, the year of the Melbourne Olympic Games, to provide water for the livestock.
Official Opening 1988
South Australian Premier John Bannon officially opened Olympic Dam and Roxby Downs on 5 November 1988
Romance of Roxby
One can’t help to think that the people who have made up the community of Roxby Downs have a romance with the red dirt 600-plus kilometres north or Adelaide. Thirty years on, there have been weddings, births, kids who have moved to town for boarding school and moved back for work because Roxby Downs is there home. Somehow there is a mysterious romance that is as strong today as it was with the early settlement. What’s your romance story?
30 Years of Service - Mine
30 Years of Service - Surface
30 Years of Service - Mine
Home Sweet Home
by Tracey Kynoch
My dad moved us to Andamooka in ‘84.
(Roxby Downs didn’t exist then), all that existed was Olympic Dam with its little caravan park and wet mess, with a few transportable houses for the bosses. The OD kids had to catch the bus for school to Andamooka, except when it rained.
I met my partner in late ‘87 when he trucked up the first Atco, which was the start of the tavern. We moved to the caravan park on Pioneer Drive. On a windy day you would cop the smell of the oval being watered.
My partner, brother and my dad were working for WMC when there were three shifts per day. Dad worked at the old pilot plant, my brother worked at the core farm then spent another 20-odd years underground, as did my partner.
We bought our house on pioneer drive in the early ’90, put in a pool and spent many years there.
Raised both my daughters here (in Roxby). Best place for the kids growing up. They could go anywhere in town safely, we didn’t lock our houses or cars back then, and there was always a BBQ to go to.
I got a job at the Roxby Club in ‘94 and spent 17 years there. There were big renos on the club began and we never closed. IGA was where the jewellers are now. Dirt car park where Woolies now stands. My favourite place was Witch’s Kitchen, a cafe that was run by Shirley Gow. We used to have a butcher and sports shop.
I’ve seen many people come and go. I moved to Adelaide in late 2010 but still came back for visits to friends and my mum in Andamooka. I came back last year for work and I’m still here; home sweet home 😍
There are periods of significant growth throughout the past 30 years that helped establish the community. From simple camps, to neighbourhoods to a main street – the establishment of the housing and infrastructure was significant in the early 80s to support the community that would support the mine.
Building the Foundations
Like any organisation, there is a time in its history where the foundations are set. Back in the late 70s and early 80s under the Western Mining Corporation banner, this was taking place.
Where it Began
"Roxby Downs was a working pastoralist station and the main hive of activity in the region in late 60s and early 70s… until the discovery of Olympic Dam!
Myth, legend, or so the story goes… the geologists who were exploring this region had one last attempt to discover what they were looking for. But like many, they had no idea of what they were about to discover. "