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.
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.
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.
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.