Broken Hill 26 -1 May 2006
Woke up to Peter’s birthday. Breakfast in bed for Peter, looking out at the amazing array of birds, especially the colourful Ringed Mallee Parrot. While the road to Broken Hill continues to be mostly flat and straight, the landscape is constantly changing from semi-desert to thick mulga scrubs. The small hills offer supreme views of the desolate countryside. We had been warned by everyone we spoke, that although it has spectacular examples of heritage buildings, not to stop at Wilcannia. We drove around the town, and it was distressing to see what had been a thriving and vibrant community, was now reduced to a ghost town. All but one of the shops were shut and barricaded. The homes too were all shut up, some surrounded by high fences and barbed wire – it was all very sad. A large number of locals were already sitting on the gutters at 10am passing the time. A couple of friendly attempts to wave were matched by one woman only. What a vicious circle of going nowhere.
Drove onto Broken Hill which was a genuine change from the other country towns, as it was founded on the mines, rather than agriculture. The town has an impressive catalogue of public buildings that reflect the bygone wealth from the mines. The skies are really blue and even had the streaks of bright white cloud that you see in so many paintings. The sky is very much a part of the scenery. Pro Harts paintings are iconic visions of Broken Hill that we had not realised were so obvious. Particularly the trees and the colours of the soil and sky. There are obviously many other artists here who also have captured what is Broken Hill. Heather recently bought a painting from a friend of the Pinnacles at Broken Hill. It really does capture the colours we see everywhere.
As it was Peter’s birthday we drove up to the lookout to see the end of the sunset which was very pretty but determined that we will go back earlier on another evening. We searched around and found a nice meal in the Musicians Club and as time went Peter realised he was getting a cold and was ready to retire early.
Peter woke on Thursday with a very bad cold and really did not feel like doing very much. We had a quiet time just walking around the main buildings in the city centre and being very impressed the beautiful stone buildings. Peter thinks he can see the connection to the buildings in Adelaide. We were surprised how so much relates back to Adelaide but it is obvious when you think that it is 500 k to Adelaide and about 1100 k to Sydney. Wow! We are away from Sydney now!
Light rain overnight was lovely music to our ears. As the morning progressed it came down a lot more and actually made puddles. We are sure the locals love it as Heather reminisces about enjoying the rain in Walgett as a child. Peter is feeling a lot better and Heather is hoping she is fighting off the traces of a cold.
On Saturday, Peter was still not feeling well, so we had a quiet day. We purchased an internet mobile connection, as we have had a lot of trouble in finding internet cafes. In the afternoon, we had a look at the Pro Hart Gallery. It was an amazing display, with works from Picasso, Nolan, Constable, Monet, Drysdale, Dickerson, Chagall, Boyd, as well as Hart. We then went up to the lookout for a twilight view of the town.
Got up early and headed off to Silverton – an old mining town about 25km north of Broken Hill. Even though it was originally larger than Broken Hill, only the stone buildings are left. This gives it an eerie feeling as there are profound spaces between them. It surprised us that the town is used for so many movies and advertisement with the pub has a great array of memorabilia. Mad Max movies were the main claim to fame. In the late afternoon, we went to see the rock sculptures set on top of a large rocky hill with a genuine 360o view. We watched the sun set, giving the rocks pink and mauve hues. The distances you can see are amazing and the contrasting types of landscape are a special feature. Pinnacles and plains, town and mining with lights and industry, broad unending plains, rocky hills with green trees and distant agricultural plains
Monday included washing and other mundane things. Enjoyed the Broken Hill Art Gallery. Peter still not better but improving and Heather is not game to say out loud that she does not have a cold. Surprisingly cold and windy with increasing cloud today - some contrast to the start of our visit here!