Above Broken Hill town is the old common, now a flora and fauna reserve, with prehistoric Aboriginal rock engravings. This ancient, desert landscape is also home to modern sandstone sculptures made when artists from various countries visited and left their interpretation of this vast landscape.
I couldn’t resist including a group shot of Red Hill Probus rejoicing in life and friendship.
On the surface there are houses, shops, sports fields, public buildings of a town of 19,000 people. Look again and you will see slag heaps, poppet heads and trains a mile long. Broken Hill, Australia, is no ordinary town. A mile under the city, hundreds of men work for three overseas companies lasering the rock, blasting and carting out mineral-laden rubble.
Best view and meal in town is at The Line of Lode restaurant sited atop a slag heap overlooking the town.
As we continue our journey north, leaving the southern winter behind, we travel through wheat country along the Murray Valley Highway to Wentworth, where the Darling River joins the Murray. Worms are for sale at the petrol station where we fill up and a council worker tells us that the huge Murray cod can still be caught, just near our picnic spot. We were surprised to read the message on the little public toilet – We are delighted to be back on the red earth, as we drive past citrus orchards.
Then the horizon opens up and saltbush plains stretch out ahead as we reach the real outback. The drive from Wentworth to Broken Hill is 250km, with only one petrol station on the way. Our phones lose contact with the outside world, and at the roadhouse,the public phone seems suddenly reassuring. Feral goats, sheep and road kill kangaroos are our companions, plus the huge trucks that cause our mirrors to flap back. As we arrive, we are overjoyed to be here. Tomorrow we discover more about Broken Hill….
Swan Hill, on Australia’s mighty River Murray was home to paddle steamers and you can experience life in the nineteenth century at the Pioneer Settlement. At night, you can travel round the settlement and listen to stories and a light show. It costs Seniors $32 for the package.
Who would have thought that a township of 500 people, way out in the Mallee would play an important role in the Second World War? Lake Boga was chosen because it was out of range of Japanese bombers and had a round lake that would allow flying boats to land in all weathers. Over 1000 defence personnel were stationed here, doing maintenance and repairs on Catalina and other flying boats. After Peace was declared, the Repair Depot was dismantled and the township resumed its rural character. The Lions Club runs a museum with a Catalina and underground bunkers on display. A video shows footage of that episode in Lake Boga’s past. Well worth an hour’s visit.