“The best laid plans” so it is said! Our plan for today was to walk into town, so after checking the map we set off. Pete has had a “dicky” left knee for a few days, and is also suffering from a sore right shoulder following a fall, so was already feeling some pain. We thought about calling a taxi, but he felt he would be OK, so off we set bearing in a westerly direction – after a few blocks doubt started to creep in as to whether we were heading in the right direction! While Pete checked the map on his iPad, I spoke to the driver of an aged care community bus, who confirmed that we were heading in the wrong direction!
So…we turned around, already two blocks further away than our destination, and both feeling a bit cranky! It was quite a long walk, past some of the old mine equipment (left) with lots of stops for Pete to have a rest….and finally we reached the main part of town. It was not made too easy when some streets have no signs and you really don’t know where you are!
As we walked along the main street, Argent Street, we passed the Thrifty car hire shop, where we planned to collect a car tomorrow for two days – we both had the same thought at the same time, why not get a car today and make life a bit easier. There was a car available, so we gratefully paid over our money and hopped into our little Kia, and drove around the corner to the Information Centre, with a Gloria Jean’s café in the same building – all our dreams answered at once! A nice coffee and banana bread, and a good collection of brochures, and we were ready to set off.
We heard from the Thrifty man that rain was anticipated for the next two days, so we decided to head to Silverton today, and if it rains tomorrow, we can spend the day going in and out of the various museums and galleries around town. It is only 26 kms to Silverton, a leisurely and pleasant drive, and made special when we noticed some wild brumbies alongside the road. As we approached the town, we noticed the road to the Mundi Mundi Plains is only about 9kms further on, so we decided to go there first, then return to Silverton. The view from the Mundi Mundi lookout (above left and right) is quite amazing, this is where scenes were shot for the films Mad Max and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. In the distance are the Boolcoomatta Hills in the Olary ranges, it is difficult to catch the whole scene on a camera, or to capture the atmosphere of this special place.
Silverton is the classic outback town with sleepy streets and heritage stone buildings, art galleries, artist studios (above left and right), museums, and a famous pub. With a population of less than 50 people, it has a booming art and culture scene to be reckoned with, and the town’s photogenic appearance has made it one of the country’s most famous filming locations, acting as the backdrop for various Hollywood blockbusters and Australian cinematic icons. In the 1880s Silverton was a mining hub of equivalent intensity and scale to Broken Hill, but today Silverton is about as different from Broken Hill as it could possibly be. It is a quiet outback town characterised by broad, unmade streets and a selection of classic stone buildings.
We wandered between the old buildings, art galleries and studios, and churches, and had lunch in the historic Silverton Pub, and later visited the incredible and restored Silverton Gaol Museum (below right), and the Silverton Cemetery. Needless to say the camera was working overtime.
As we headed back to Broken Hill (noticing that the brumbies were still feeding in almost in the same area) we decided we had time to visit the Line of Lode. After more than 125 years of mining in Broken Hill the 7.5km long, 1.6km deep “Line of Lode” has yielded 300 million metric tonnes of ore, enough to fill more than 1500 concert halls in the Sydney Opera House, and generated over $100 billion.
Atop the Line of Lode is the memorial to the 800 miners who died in the mining industry in Broken Hill (below left and right), with spectacular views over the city and surrounds (above). It was sad to read the names and ages of the miners who had died, many from falls down shafts, electrocutions, suffocations, machinery falls and heart attacks.
On our way home we did some shopping for our breakfasts at the local Woolworths for a few bits and pieces.
We had decided to have dinner in the heritage listed Palace Hotel, built in 1889 and originally used as a coffee palace. Back in the day when Broken Hill was known to have a pub on every corner, a local temperance group had a vision for a non-alcoholic venue where people could dine and drink coffee. They organised a competition for submissions for a building design. Alfred Dunn of Melbourne won the competition and the Coffee Palace opened. But, the locals never quite grasped the idea of a non-alcoholic meeting place, and any thought of profits went down the drain and the Palace opened as a licensed hotel in 1892.
The meal was delicious, forgot to take a photo of the main meal, but did remember to take a photo of dessert! Not long after we arrived we heard quite loud disco music coming from an adjoining room, and could see the coloured disco lights. Shortly after a couple of “Priscilla” look alikes came into the dining room, looking very gorgeous in their sparkly dresses and fabulous wigs – one blonde and one brunette! Later we were told by one of the staff that when the Indian Pacific train pulls in to Broken Hill the passengers have a few choices of entertainment, and one is now a disco concert with the “girls”. Loads of fun I’m sure, and wish we had that choice on our trip on the Indian Pacific a few years ago! As we missed seeing the many now famous murals throughout the hotel, we will make a return visit before we leave Broken Hill.