The main action takes
place on the western side in the main street, Railway Terrace West. At the
south end of Railway Terrace, Copley’s friendly caravan park offers four
star cabins as well as camping sites, excellent facilities and a nightly
bonfire for visitors. Up the road the inexplicably named Leigh Creek Hotel –
the town’s pub - provides meals, an ATM and accommodation if only you could
find your way into the place.
Packsaddle General Store has Post Office
services and most other basic necessities including
excellent garage and RAA repair and rescue service in the town. Cooke’s
Outback Motors is run by a quirky old African hand with an eye-glazing
repertoire of stories and a collection of mysterious and erotic wood
carvings for sale. Don’t offer to help with repairs incidentally.
beating heart of the town is the Quandong Café,
decked out in ocean blue at the north end of the street and selling
ruinously fattening but irresistible cakes and pies. The Copley pasty and
the allegedly aphrodisiac quandong pies and quandong cheesecake are legends
at the campfires of grey nomads. With a proprietor reminiscent of a female
Basil Fawlty, the café is a mecca for visiting
oddballs, activists, artists and backpackers and has the friendly
high-energy feel of a Now-age hippie oasis.
Enquire here too for guided
trail rides with Boundary Riders. Situated at Angepena Station, 50 km east
on the Arkaroola Road, local bush legend and horse whisperer Bob Dillon
takes visitors along the spectacular Frome Creek in the Gammon Ranges. Ask
about the family of dingoes which adopted him during his time up on the
Strzelecki Track, about his work on banding raptors and monitoring yellow
footed rock wallabies.
Next door is the Copley Art Space or Copley Space
Art. Depending upon which reality you are standing in at the time, it may or
may not house an exhibition of local art and craft.
Just across the road
is Kelvin’s food stop caravan selling good, plain roadhouse fare. When the
Quandong Café closes, it’s a signal for Kelvin
to fire up the chipper and put out his shingle. A truckie’s mecca, it’s the
only late night tucker stop between Momba and Port Augusta.
northern corner of the main street is the biggest eyesore in South
Australia, the famous Agnew Spread and scrap yard owned by town patriarch
Tom Agnew. Enter at your peril and don’t expect to buy anything. Worth a
passing look, it’s a good example of why a town needs a Municipal Council.
With no powers to order a cleanup, Copley is run by a Progress Association
in collaboration with the Aroona Council, comprising representatives of the
local Adnymathanha Aboriginal people, “The People of the Stones”.
eastern side of the railway call in on Railway Terrace at Rick’s Place,
housing a B&B in an old railway carriage and the former Smithy and
Wheelwright’s workshop in a surprisingly original state, sepia dust
included. Further north along the road is the Overland Telegraph art and
The entire town has a surreal energy and a strange attractor
factor which draws people in. Boasting three churches, Copley is also home to
a surprising number of practising shamans. One such is Yankuntjatjara Adnyamathanha… Senior Man Ken
McKenzie, a Christian Bushman and artist who often frequents the Quandong
Café and is warmly generous with his traditional stories, songs and
laughter. A charming little town despite its wallflower appearance, somehow
you just don’t want to leave.
Check out the rogue’s gallery on the town
How to get there?
in Port Augusta operate a weekly bus service to Copley.
Otherwise by car, your own private jet to the Leigh Creek airstrip or
As the great British comedian Peter Sellers once said “it’s a difficult place to
get into, and even more difficult to get out of”.