This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2007 Travels May 3

THURSDAY 3 MAY     BROKEN HILL

Today we drove out to Silverton, 25kms to the NW. We had been here before, but it was new territory for M. Much of this trip was going to be about introducing  her to new places.

Silverton began, as the name suggests, with a silver mining rush in the late 1800’s. However, it was soon eclipsed by the richer finds in Broken Hill. Most of the population left – often moving their houses to Broken Hill, too. But Silverton refused to totally become a ghost town, and in recent times has been rejuvenated by becoming a base for some notable artists, and the setting for films.

Looking to central Silverton! Hotel to left.

Today, there’s a handful of permanent residents, one hotel, and it is one of the go-to destinations of the region. It has also been used as a film location – the hotel is associated forever with Mad Max! We came here first – separately – in the late 1960’s. It remains a quirky, favourite place.

Apart from some old buildings – in various stages of repair – there is superb arid country scenery around the area.

When here last, in 2005, I took a heap of photos of the old Broken Hill-Silverton railway alignment and siding “station”. The place is a photographer’s dream.

We visited the usual – for us – galleries: Peter Browne’s and the Horizon Gallery, which was my absolute favourite of all the ones on offer in Broken Hill and Silverton.

Sculpture on the wall of the Coin Carvery

John was attracted to the coin-carver’s unusual gallery. Essentially, the “background” sections of older coins were cut out, leaving the rim (frame) and the featured centrepiece. This was then gold or silver dipped. The man needed a special permit to destroy currency!

John bought his daughter a birthday present – a coin that had been cut out and gold plated. It was really nice.

Silverton was a very “arty”, quirky place. Maybe the aridity and vast vistas of this area somehow feed the creativity of the people who live here?

Up on the hill, at the Browne Gallery, we ran the gauntlet of some strange critters.

Bought some cute postcards to send to the grandchildren, and a tin VW with an emu painted on it, for the coming first birthday of grandson. It could maybe be a collectors piece for him, rather than a toy?

I was very tempted to buy a wire “sculpture” of a chook, and a wire and metal cat sculpture – but resisted. It took a great effort, I might add!

John bought a set of large, old, door keys, that he thought he could mount on some turned wood and turn into an unusual decoration for an outside wall.

The Browne Gallery was in a rather lovely old house, up on a rise, overlooking the township. It was worth the trek up there just for the outlook alone.

We then proceeded to spend too long at the Horizon Gallery. Here, I could not be strong, and bought a framed Bronwyn Stanley Woodroffe print. It was of the Pinnacles peaks, near Broken Hill, with an eagle soaring in the foreground. It would be shipped to us in October, when we were home to receive it. That would make two of her works we now had, and two of her husband’s. Magic works, they all are.

The gallery still had several other works that I could easily buy! I purchased eight picture cards, with the idea that these could be framed – singly or as sets – for us, or for gifts. Or else, I could just use them to write notes to people.

While browsing and making decisions, we got talking travel with Bronwyn and the subject of house sitters came up. I ended up telling her we would consider house sitting for her, up here, for short spells, in the future. We could enjoy some time spent in this region.

Drove out to the north of Silverton for about 10kms, and ate lunch at the Umberumberka Reservoir, built in the early 1900’s to supply water to Broken Hill. It had water in it – an unusual sight in this dry country.

Stopped at the Lookout over the Mundi Mundi Plain where the vast plains stretched in all directions. Perhaps for someone new to outback travel, this outlook would be impressive, but we had seen a lot of vast country in our travels.

Back in Silverton, we went walking along the dry Umberumberka Creek bed, which was lined with majestic old river red gums.

Debris piled up behind trees shows that the creek does sometimes flood

There were lots of hollows in these ancient trees, to be homes to birds and critters.

In a part of the creek that had been the most recent to dry up, there was a large patch of red mud curls – very artistic looking. From a distance, they resembled leaf litter.

Back in Broken Hill, we went to the Post Office and sent off the birthday presents bought today, and postcards to the grandchildren. Checked at the mail centre there – the package with the fridge thermostat had not arrived yet. Since the fridge now appeared to be working perfectly after its regassing, I did a redirection notice to have it sent on to home.

We shopped for food supplies, to last for some time. We had a bit of a dilemma. In theory, we should not take fresh produce into SA. But we were planning to turn off the highway at Yunta, and head north to Arkaroola. There were no shops along that way. We would be taking the purchased fruit and veg a long way distant from the crucial agricultural areas of SA.

Refuelled Truck – $1.30cpl.

John discovered that the other side back indicator on Truck had no globe in it, either! I was not sure how I had missed its non-functioning, in our checks – my reputation was tarnished, somewhat. He was incensed enough to phone the dealer’s service centre to complain. They were very apologetic and gave him the usual spiel about apprentices ! Hey – isn’t the work of these supposed to be supervised?

Yet again, we wondered what else had been missed, or done sub-standard.


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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 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.