This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2005 Travels September 27

TUESDAY 27 SEPTEMBER     BROKEN HILL

Went to the Horizon Gallery in town and talked to the artists’ son. We were happy with his suggestions – and charges – for framing the limited edition prints we were interested in buying.

Visited the Jack Absolom Gallery. He was one of the famed Brushmen of the Bush – a group of artists who used to go out painting in various locations and in general worked together to stage exhibitions and put Broken Hill on the art scene. Their best known member was probably Pro Hart.

Absolom’s works were certainly of the outback areas we love, but just didn’t grab me to a sufficient extent to want to buy. We talked for some time with the artist – he certainly has the gift of the gab!

In the later afternoon, drove out of town, parked in the area provided, then walked to the Living Desert Sculptures, on Sundown Hill.

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Living Desert Sculptures with Broken Hill in the background

The twelve large sandstone sculptures were created in 1993, on site, during a special event for the purpose.

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Walking the path through these structures was pleasant, in the late afternoon.

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The sculptures were worth seeing, though I would not go out of my way to visit them again.

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Again, there was quite a vista from the hill, over the surrounding country.

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2005 Travels September 26

MONDAY 26 SEPTEMBER     BROKEN HILL

We seemed to have fallen in a bit of a hole, not feeling like doing anything much.

John had a long sleep in. I walked the decent distance to the shops to get a paper, which became a routine most mornings. My daily exercise!

I did the washing that had accumulated since we were in Mt Isa. Those two efforts accounted for me for the day!

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Ensuite site at Broken Hill Tourist Park


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2005 Travels September 25

SUNDAY 25 SEPTEMBER     BROKEN HILL

Now that there was not a time pressure to fit everything in, we had another fairly lazy day.

Drove up to the top of the big mine dump heap, to the Miners’ Memorial. This was an awesome structure. It was really sobering to see the names of all the dead miners recorded there.

There was a good outlook over Broken Hill from up there too.

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2005 Travels September 24

SATURDAY 24 SEPTEMBER     BROKEN HILL

And John turned 65 today. I took a photo of him on the day – it showed his bushy Pungalina beard. The biggest and bushiest beard he’d ever grown.

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We decided to stay on here longer. There was time to fill in before the house sitters finished. There were still some galleries I wanted to see, and other sights to look at. We also had to go to the Horizon Gallery in town.

So decided to treat ourselves to a little luxury and move onto an en-suite site that was available. Was $168 for a week, essentially $28 per night, with a seventh night free.

Moved the van. That was not a major effort – we had not done a full set up when we originally only expected to be here two nights. Walked things like the outdoor table and chairs to the new site.

The bathroom was definitely a little touch of luxury. We put the awning up and in general set up to be comfortable for the week.

Then drove to the shops, to get papers and some food supplies for the weekend.

Spent the rest of the day being lazy at camp – reading papers, and watching the AFL Grand Final on TV. I suspect the football was a significant reason why John wouldn’t dawdle down the Birdsville Track! The game was close but a bit ho-hum as far as I was concerned. Two interstate teams did not really interest me much!

I cooked a roast chicken dinner – a great favourite of John’s – for his birthday tea. Roasted bird and vegies in the electric frypan, on table outside the van. We cracked a decent bottle of wine, too.


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2005 Travels September 23

FRIDAY 23 SEPTEMBER     BROKEN HILL

It was back to being able to have a sleep in again, after the early starts of the past few days. Not that the surroundings were particularly quiet, with our fellow travellers packing up and heading out.

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After breakfast, decided to go for a drive out to Silverton, the semi-ghost town, some 25kms to the north. This settlement was the site of a fairly short lived silver mining venture – as the name suggests, in the late 1800’s.

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Old cottage, Silverton

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Main street, Silverton, and the hotel

We had previously found the settlement interesting to wander about in, and loved the Horizon Gallery there, where we had on an earlier trip, purchased a couple of prints, that were still firm favourites.

Had a good browse in the Gallery. Really love the work of the two artist owners. After considerable debate, decided to – probably – buy two more prints from there. Spending some of our hard-earned wages! One was a rather dramatic work by Albert Woodroffe, of the Cockburn Range in the WA Kimberley. The other was by Bronwyn Standley Woodroffe, of an eagle soaring high, with the Pinnacles – SW of Broken Hill – in the background. Both were quite large and we would have to arrange to have them framed and sent to us, after we got home. To that end, we had to visit their gallery in Broken Hill and consult with their son, who did their framing. If that was satisfactory, we would buy the prints.

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On the way back to town, turned off to visit the old Day Dream Mine – a silver mine that operated in the 1880’s, with an associated smelter. Although the mining here did not last long, the smelter was used to process ore from Broken hill, before the first mines there built their own. The remains of the smelter could still be seen.

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Day Dream Mine in distance

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The track we came in on, from by the mine ruins

We paid to both do the tour of the surface features, then John did the underground tour, while I wandered about up top and took photos. We had not been here before, and it was certainly worth doing once.

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Another outlook from the mine

Back in town, went to the Visitor Information Centre. Interesting place with displays related to the mining history, of course. John bought a polo shirt with a mining structure logo on the pocket.

Fish and chips for tea tonight. They were much nicer than the Mt Isa ones had been.


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2005 Travels September 22

THURSDAY 22 SEPTEMBER   RAWNSLEY PARK TO BROKEN HILL   460kms

We were away fairly early, again.

Took the unsealed Martins Well track, to the east, then continued on to intersect the Yunta-Balcanoona track, north of Curnamona Station. Then turned south for Yunta.

This route had us on unsealed tracks for over 200kms. We saw very little other traffic. Signs of habitation were few  and far between. Signposts were far enough apart to have us wondering at times if we were on the tracks  intended! However, the road surface was reasonable, and the spare fuel in the jerry can a reassurance. For once, my navigation, from just the Road Atlas, was accurate.

Stopped for a break and had a wander around the Waukaringa ruins, not far from Yunta. This was the site of a gold find and resultant mine and small township, from the 1870’s.

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The road south – Waukaringa

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Hotel ruins Waukaringa

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Refuelled at Yunta – $1.31cpl. Had travelled 421kms, since last fuel at Leigh Creek.

Now we were back on a sealed highway, with only 200kms to go to Broken Hill. Lost half an hour of time just crossing the border!

Booked into the Broken Hill Caravan Park – $19.80 a night, after discount. Initially booked in for two nights. Thought that would give John a bit of a break from driving, and allow us a day of sight seeing. This was not our first visit to Broken Hill.

After setting up, paid a quick visit to the shops to stock up on a few items.

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2005 Travels September 21

WEDNESDAY 21 SEPTEMBER   COOPER CREEK TO RAWNSLEY PARK STATION   400kms

Managed a fairly early start, while the morning was still cool.

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Early morning, Cooper Creek

I would have liked to detour off to the east, to see where the ferry operated from, in years when the creek was in flood. But the driver was not interested.

We passed Clayton Station. They had recently set up a campground by a wetland area – another place I would have liked to explore and stay!

Saw a mob of emus, not too far from the road, when we had stopped for a morning tea break. John decided to try out something he had seen on a TV program, and stood, waving his hat in the air.The theory was that emus are very curious creatures, and would approach closer to investigate. But these emus didn’t know that theory – or maybe they were short sighted – and ignored his efforts.

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Once we reached Marree, we were back on a route travelled before. We did not stop in that settlement, but turned and headed south.

Eventually reached the sealed road again. Stopped at Leigh Creek to refuel, having done 333kms by then. $1.45cpl.

Continued on, eventually running alongside the western flank of the Flinders Ranges – always a beautiful drive. Turned east on to the unsealed Moralana Scenic Drive, which was a short cut between the main road we had been on and that north from Hawker into the Flinders Ranges. We had driven this before. As before, it was really pretty in the late afternoon light – but there was little stopping for photos.

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Flinders Ranges from the Moralana Scenic Drive

Decided to book into the camp ground at Rawnsley Park Station, rather than going a bit further on to Wilpena, which had originally been John’s intention. The stay would only be for one night, it seemed, as John wanted to press on to Broken Hill and then take a break from driving days, there.

The unpowered site cost $16.20 after discount. The place was surprisingly busy and there were no powered sites to be had. We set up away from the more formal area, though it meant a bit of a hike to the ablutions block.

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Camp at Rawnsley Park Station

We were in a pleasant grove of cypress pines.

Although it was quite late in the afternoon, managed a short walk out along a station track, before settling in for the night.

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2005 Travels September 20

TUESDAY 20 SEPTEMBER   BIRDSVILLE TO COOPER CREEK   385kms

The morning saw a quick pack up, then we headed out of town, across the Diamantina River channel.

Finally, we were on the Birdsville Track – a long held goal of mine. This was the last of the three desert tracks in this region, and the only one we had not previously driven.

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I was hoping that we could take our time going south to Marree, camp at least a couple of nights along the way, sidetrack out to Kalamurina on the Warburton channel – but John was not so inclined. Once he became fixated on an end goal, he was not to be moved, and in this case the goal was getting south fast!

Left to my own devices, I would have camped at least a night at each of Kalamurina (probably two or three nights!), Mungerannie, Cooper Creek, Clayton Station – and taken a week to do the track.,

It did not take long before we were seeing sand dunes running parallel to the track.

Much of the way was flat and dry, as one would expect, but not without its own beauty.

Every so often we would cross a dry, shallow water course, marked by a line of low trees – variety in the landscape.

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It was getting late in the tourist season for people to be travelling the Birdsville Track. We only encountered one lot of traffic for the day.

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The dust of other travellers on the Birdsville Track

The track was in much better condition than I had anticipated – but with some areas of corrugation, and – surprisingly – a short, wet section. The water was not very deep, and the base of the track was still firm though.

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We had a couple of short stops, to look at the country, stretch our legs a bit.

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Corella tree

One of the stops was to look at some budgerigars that appeared to be nesting in a tree hollow. There were not that many trees along the northern part of the track, so that was a novelty.

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Had a slightly more extended break at Mungerannie Roadhouse. The little camp area there was quite pleasant, beside a wetland created by the bore outflow.

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Mungerannie

We walked around and took photos.

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Bought cold drinks at the roadhouse and refuelled – we had done 326kms. Fuel was $1.70 cpl.

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There were some relics here of the time of the Birdsville Mailman, who plied this track, keeping the really isolated station people in touch with the outside world. They were the days before mail planes!

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It was getting to late afternoon, by the time we came to the Cooper Creek crossing.

This was quite prominent, in that a belt of low trees and scrub extended for some distance  – the result of the occasional big floods of the creek. There were a number of shallow channels. But now it was totally dry.

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Cooper Creek

It was time to stop for the night, so we pulled slightly off the track, in amongst some trees.

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Good place for a camp

After the minimal set up for overnight, I had a walk around the area. The profusion of little bush flies were really annoying.

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Wendy – with passengers!

The colours of the sky and the bush, as the day faded, were beautiful.

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The night was quiet and still – like being back at Pungalina.

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2005 Travels September 19

MONDAY 19 SEPTEMBER   BOULIA TO BIRDSVILLE   380kms

Another hot day of driving, and a rather tedious one at that.

The country was flat, dry, arid, dusty. Again, it was not new – we had been this way before.

The road was mostly unsealed, firm gravel in quite good condition.

We took a short break at Bedourie, where there is very little to see. It was really just to stretch the legs.

Later, stopped at the Carcoory ruins for another break, and to take photos. This stark remnant of a homestead of the late 1800’s is testament to the hardships of trying to live in such a bleak region. Its pastoral run was acquired by Sir Sidney Kidman around 1900, but even he found it uneconomic.

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Carcoory ruins

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There was a small picnic shelter there, where we ate our packed sandwich lunch. The shade was much appreciated. The bush flies were not.

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Birdsville was a welcome sight. We refuelled at the servo which was opposite the caravan park. $1.39cpl. 398kms.

We took a powered site at the Birdsville Caravan Park – $18. The park was rather dry and dusty, at this end of the season. We were able to stay hitched up, with a little shade from adjacent trees.

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Birdsville Caravan Park

As the afternoon cooled off, went for a walk around the town. It hadn’t changed much!

Last night and tonight were both much quieter than our nights in Mt Isa – more what we were used to.

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2005 Travels September 18

SUNDAY 18 SEPTEMBER   MT ISA TO BOULIA   300kms

This was another hot day for driving. We took the Diamantina Development Road out of town.

At least, the first part was scenic, through the range country. We had travelled this road before, but coming north, so this time we got to look the other way!

The road was, mostly, a narrow, single, sealed strip, with reasonably wide gravelled shoulders. In places, the edges of the sealed strip were crumbling and jagged. The Driver hoped to be able to pick the places to move to one side for approaching traffic. Fortunately, this was rare. We crossed a number of cemented dry floodways, notable mostly for the scenic variety provided by the lines of trees that signalled their approach.

Once south of the rather forlorn little settlement of Dajarra, the country became flat and even more arid looking. In that flat country, the towers and buildings of distant Boulia stood out on the horizon, as we approached.

The main street of Boulia, with its central islands of green grass and trees, signalled a town that was trying hard to make the best of itself.

We had reached there in good time.

Refuelled Truck on the way through town – $1.40cpl. We had done 325kms.

Took a powered site in the caravan park and were able to pick a site with a cement slab, that backed onto the Burke River. This still had water in it, though it was fairly low. $15 for the night.

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Had a quick late lunch, then walked across the road bridge over the river, and up along the main street, just looking around. Went into the Information Centre/Min Min Centre, named for the mysterious lights that have sometimes appeared to travellers in these parts. We browsed about the “free” part of the centre, which was well set up and interesting, but did not pay to visit the specialized section on the lights. We had seen our own Min Min lights, in the remote Kimberley Mitchell Plateau, in 1993!

Just relaxed at camp for the rest of the day.

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