Sundowners Tagalong Mildura to Broken hill 12-18 Jun
Tuesday 12th June - Day 13
We had to do a bit of food shopping before heading off for Broken Hill. By 10;15am all the vans were ready so we departed the CP , me in the lead, trusting our Navman to take us to the Buronga Bridge and the turnoff for Wentworth. Well, we only had gone about 2kms and I took us up a closed street which was under repair, so we all had to turn around and find the detour to get us back on track. Finally we were on the Silver City Highway and settled down to a short drive to just outside Wentworth for morning tea. By 11:30 we were again on the road and we arrived at the Popiltah Lakes rest area around 1:30pm where we set up camp for the night.
It was very busy at the rest area and we thought we may be fighting for a bit of space, but most of the vans there left a short time later having only stopped for lunch. Someone had left a fire going so after setting up the vans for the night we all sat around the campfire for the afternoon. We had a bbq dinner around the campfire and then stayed there till bedtime.
Wednesday 13th June - Day 14
We all slept very well apart for the occasional semi going past. We were ready to depart by 9:45am . It was a 137km run to Broken Hill with no rest stops in between. The road was undulating and bare with only a few scrub patches. Mainly cattle and sheep country. There were lots of feral goats and emus about. As we approached Broken Hill there was a sign on the road stating that we were entering Central Standard Time(same as Adelaide) . We had to put our clocks back 30 minutes. Because of the extra time now we pulled over for a coffee break about 15kms from the 'Hill'. Afterwards it was an easy run into the Lakeview Caravan Park where we booked in for 4 nights. We drove into town for some lunch after setting up and then found where the shopping centres are. Then it was back to the van park for a rest and quiet afternoon. Tonight we are watching the 2nd State of Origin game. Go Maroons!
Thursday 14th June - Day 15
Well not much luck with the Origin game last night. Maroons lost by 4. :-(
Today we were planning to go looking at the touristy things in town but when I went to start the car, nothing! The battery was flat so on the phone to call the RAA/NRMA. About 20 minutes later the RAA van turns up and the mechanic checks the battery and the alternator and reckoned the alternator was shot because of a leak from the power steering connection right above it. I had a similar problem with the battery whilst we were in Cobdogla in November and at the time the guy said the steering pipe had a small leak and could damage the alternator. Karma? Well, I was going to get it fixed as soon as we got home but now it looks like we are getting the car repaired here in Broken Hill. The car was put on the tray and taken away to the repair shop. Luckily, all the parts were obtainable here in town so it should be repaired today. Meanwhile we headed off in Sue's Prado to the Lode line Memorial on a mullock hill that overlooks the city. We spent an hour there looking at the memorial to all the miners that lost their life in the mines here over the years. Then it was into town for some lunch. After lunch we drove to the Pro Hart Gallery and spent some time there looking at all the paintings that were there. A very impressive collection. Pro Hart died in 2006.
Back to the van park and await the call from the repairer which came around 4pm. The car was all fixed and should get us back to Adelaide!!
Friday 15th June - Day 16
We went for a drive out to Silverton today stopping off at the Day Dream Mine for a tour of the above ground and underground mine shafts. Mining was the reason that Silverton sprang up in the first place, and its still possible to experience what life was like for men working in its heyday. The Day Dream Mine is located northwest of Silverton and about 20 kilometers outside of Broken Hill. Established in 1882, the mine attracted a sizable settlement which, while short-lived, boasted 500-odd residents at its peak, as well as the district's first smelters. While the settlement gave ground to Silverton and then Broken Hill, mining continued up until 1983. A miner's life consisted of twelve hour days, six days a week. Miners worked by Candle light which were held in holders known as spiders. Miners bought their own candles, picks and shovels. Mining method was mostly by hammer and tapping holes, then firing them. Miners did not leave the workings for firings. Pickey boys (Boys of 14-15 years old) would hand pick the ore after a firing, and bag it. Waste rock was carried back into the opening for back-fill. A miners living conditions were poor with the average life span only 40 years. Most miners suffered failing eyesight and respiratory diseases.
After and hour and a bit underground crawling along the mine shafts being shown where the ore came from and the uncomfortable working conditions that the miner had to endure I takes my hat off to them. It was bloody hard work.
We drove to Silverton after our mine adventure to have lunch. Even people who have never been there will recognise it, as Silverton has starred in countless films, television shows and commercials in all mediums. Nestled in the Far West outback of New South Wales, Silverton was built by miners in search of fortune. Once a bustling home to 3,000 people, residents began to leave in the 1880s when the nearby mines of Broken Hill surfaced. Many took their houses with them. These days less than 50 people call Silverton home and only a handful of buildings dot the landscape. Most of the original buildings have now vanished or lie in ruins, but there are some interesting buildings that remain, including the Silverton Hotel and the Silverton Gaol. Silverton has been the scene for more than 140 films and commercials thanks to the light, the character-filled colonial buildings and its scenic desert surrounds. The hotel is regularly featured in these productions, and its inside walls are covered with memorabilia. A replica car, the Pursuit Special from Mad Max and Mad Max 2, is usually parked outside the hotel. Other well known productions filmed in and around Silverton include The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, The Flying Doctors, and Dirty Deeds.
Saturday 16th June - Day 17
Someone in the park suggested that we should go and take a look at a 50s style milk bar in Patton street. So at morning tea time we all got in our vehicles and drove the 6kms to Bell's Milk Bar. First impression, it wasn't what we expected. We had a coffee and then left disappointed.
"Bells Milk Bar is an in tact 1950’s milk bar in South Broken Hill (thanks to Les and Mavis Bell’s 1956 renovation). It is famous for its quirky décor and the ‘out of this world’ old fashioned milkshakes and soda spiders served here. During Broken Hill’s mining hey days of the 1950s and 1960s Bells was regularly packed out and people were known to line up halfway down the street on a Sunday afternoon for a cool drink. Despite the huge demand for the Bells drinks over the years, they have only recently been bottled for retail sale." Attendance has somehow slipped over the years and appears to be now more of a tourist attraction..
Next we went to the Railway Museum , which included the Migrant Museum as well. The Railway Museum building was erected in 1905, from sandstone quarried from the Block 114 Mine Lease, replacing the original timber and iron station built in 1888.
The Silverton Tramway Company operated a private narrow gauge railway system between Broken Hill and Cockburn (on the South Australian border) from 1888 to 1970. In 1970, following the introduction by the Commonwealth Government of the standard gauge system, the Silverton Tramway Company's Railway services were discontinued. The museum also houses the hospital museum, the migration museum and has an extensive mineral collection. The Broken Hill Migrant Museum was set up by the Broken Hill Migrant Heritage Committee Inc. Broken Hill is more than a landscape and old buildings - it is the people that make it special and the Broken Hill exhibition gives the local people a voice and tells their stories.
Jack Absalom is a legend with his many DVDs and TV shows back in the 80s about various places around Australia and survival in the bush. I'll never forget the episode where he used a couple of lantern batteries to start a Sigma and drive it for 100kms to get out of trouble. Also, there was a segment once about using a couple of AA batteries to help start a diesel engine. These gems stick in my mind. He also is a great painter of the bush. I love his paintings and every time we have been to Broken Hill we go visit his Art Gallery. On this trip Jack happened to be home and we met him and had our photos taken with him. A great Australian!
Jack Absalom with Gary, Geraldine and Sue.
Sunday 17th June - Day 18
Today was pack-up and head home day for Allan, Helen, Gary, Sue, Geraldine and myself. We three couples were ready to move by 9am, a record, and after saying our farewells to Dennis and Therese (who were staying an extra day) we drove of in single column through Broken Hill to the Barrier Highway and settled down to a long uneventful drive to Peterborough. We had morning tea at a road side stop about 10kms north of Olary. Lunch was at Yunta where we bought a pie and coffee at the BP station. Then it was on to Oodla Wirra where the Quarantine station is situated. No fruit and veges south of here as there is a bin provided for disposal of the offending items. The Quarantine Station wasn't open (probably because it was Sunday) but the signs said big penalties for bringing prohibited fruit and veges. On the Peterborough road just past the turn-off there was a semi refrigerator trailer parked on the roadside, completely burnt out with a load of potatoes still onboard.
As we entered the township, Sue was pulled over by the Police for a random breath test. We continued on to the Caravan Park and booked in for the night. We also booked for the Sound and Light Show at the Steamtown Rail Heritage Centre for 6:30pm. We decided to have tea out tonight so that we could make it to the show on time. We found a cafe that was putting on a pork roast for $10 so we booked a seat there for dinner. "After dark, visitors can watch South Australia's first and only Sound & Light Show, from a historic Transcontinental carriage, now transformed into a viewing car and placed on the 85 foot long turntable. This magic light and sound spectacle tells the story of Steamtown and the creation of Peterborough, about Railways in South Australia and the history and personal stories associated with it. You relive the famous visit of General MacArthur in 1942 when he delivered the famous phrase: "I shall return",from the platform in Terowie. You learn about the first terrorist attack on Australian soil and the tragic accident of Walloway. Through this awesome sound and light spectacle you will actually experience parts of the last two centuries and become part of it."
Tomorrow we finish off the current trip and head for home.