Broken Hill 3/6/16June 6, 2016 in Australia
HAY to BROKEN HILL 2/6/16 to 7/6/16
We spent an enjoyable day in Hay where there are some nice parks and walks along the Murrumbidgee River. We saw the old Goal, Railway Station and historic homes. We also went to the Shear Outback Museum where we saw a shearing demo in the old woolshed and learned a lot about the history of sheep in Australia and the shearers hall of fame.
Next day we set off for Wilcannia, again following the Long Paddock Route which is where drovers used to take their stock (north – south through outback N.S.W.) Once more we drove through very flat plains with just low salt-bush and hardly a tree in sight. There were some sheep and cattle grazing amongst the salt-bush as well as many emus and a few roos. After a lunch stop at Ivanhoe the bitumen ended and we drove on the dirt until Wilcannia. There were areas where it was completely flat to the horizon and not a single tree to be seen. We saw many wild goats and at one stage two emus which were close to the road decided to make a last minute dash across the road. Fortunately Frank had slowed down but we missed them by millimetres!
In Wilcannia we stayed at the Warrawong caravan park which is situated on the Darling River just out of the town. We enjoyed drinks and nibbles around the campfire at happy-hour and met more happy travellers. The brand new amenities block at this park was the best we’d ever seen with the most spacious showers – like ensuites. (we grey-nomads judge van parks by their toilet blocks!!) Wilcannia is a typical outback small town – always a pub on a prominent corner in the main street and a handful of historic buildings which are usually restored. A lot of the shops and dwellings had bars on the windows and the town has a bit of a reputation for crime among a certain section of the community but has improved a lot in recent years.
The road to Broken Hill from Wilcannia was sealed so it was an easier run. We booked in to the caravan park in Broken Hill for four nights as there was quite a lot to see in and around the area. Our first full day was spent visiting places of interest in the town. We went to see the Miners Monument which is situated on top of the Line of Lode which is the mountain of rubble which has been excavated from the mines over the years since mining began in the 1880s. The monument displays the names of all the miners who have died on the job over the years. We then went to the Royal Flying Doctor Service visitor centre where we had an interesting tour of the hangar and communication centre. We headed on to the famous Bell’s Milk Bar (authentic 1950s style) where we enjoyed a great milkshake and spider before continuing on to the Silver City Mint and Art Centre where they had a great display of local art and craft as well as the “Big Picture” which is a 360deg painting of the local landscape which is the biggest acrylic on canvas in the world. It was really well done and gave the sensation of being right in the outback. We finished off the day by watching the sunset at the Living Desert reserve which is on a hill just out of Broken Hill where there are a number of large stone sculptures. Art is really big in this part of the world.
The next day we drove to Menindee (110 km from B.H.) where there are a number of large lakes which are all dry at the moment. This is a big problem for the people of B.H. as it is the later supply for the town and the reason they are dry is because the Darling River which normally flows into them, is not flowing at the moment because it’s being dammed up in Qld. for the cotton irrigation and is a very political issue around here. We did see the old river red gum where Burke & Wills set up camp and left some of their party during their ill-fated exploration.
ON our last day in Broken Hill we drove out to Silverton which is the small town which was once a mining town like B.H. but now has only a population of 50 and is famous as the site of many movies like Mad Max 2 and Priscilla and many commercials feature the old pub there. The streets were wide dirt and the buildings old. We had lunch in the famous Silverton pub and walked around and looked through one of the galleries in the town. Once again, art is BIG. We really enjoyed our Broken Hill experience.
From Hay we drove up to Ivanhoe where we stopped for lunch and I had a chat with the local Copper about the road closures and conditions up to Wilcannia and Menindee. He advised to take the Wilcannia rd due to recent rains.
About 5km out of Ivanhoe we were on the dirt again and loving it (not). There were 4 or 5 sections where we had to take to side tracks created to go around damage from the recent rains.
On the road from Wilcannia to Broken Hill we stopped for lunch at a rest stop and drove into a nice spot and began to sink into the soft red dirt. I kept going about 20metres to get through it and ended up with around 50 millimetres of mud on the wheels and inner mudguards. That’s after 20metres we have another 3000k to 4000k to go.
Because the land is so low and flat around Broken Hill the roads have a lot of Dips and Floodways which is ok in a car but towing a van we will have to travel more slowly.
We were also warned against driving after dark due to the aggressive Roos and Emus.
Could someone tell Max that the “world famous Hotdog” at the Silverton Hotel (near Broken Hill) gives the Warnambool speedway Hotdog a run for its money.Read more