Travelling Australia
with
Wayne & Pam BENTLEY

THE DAILY JOURNAL
Friday 4th August 2006 to Sunday 6th August 2006

Friday 4th August 2006

Mundi Mundi Plains, North of Silverton
Mundi Mundi Plains lookout - North of Silverton

The 'Ghost Town' of Silverton was our sight seeing destination for today, so first the usual morning preparations had to be completed and 'One of Us' put a load of whites through the caravan park washing machine, however we are not sure if they were any whiter after the wash, in fact we think it was the opposite.

At about 10.am we set off out of Broken Hill on the 25 kilometre drive to Silverton. This took us over thirty nine 'dips' in the sealed road on the way out, each one a small water floodway at little creeks or waterways, but we think it has been some time since the water flowed over the roads in these locations.

On arrival at Silverton we first drove around what was left of the town, which is a far cry from its heyday. It was first settled in 1881 but it was not named Silverton until1883 when at the end of that year the population was about 250. As the mining of silver became big business in the area, it built to a peak population of around 3,000 in 1885/86. The small pockets of silver ore started to become exhausted by this stage and the discovery of the main silver ore lode in Broken Hill, and the population started to decline until it became known as a 'Ghost Town' although the population today is believed to only be about 50 people. Most of them supported by tourist visits to the centre.

There are not a lot of buildings left in Silverton, but this was explained by some photographs in the Gaol Museum depicting some of the residents moving house, and that is exactly what they did when they moved to Broken Hill. The whole house was placed on wheels and was towed down to Broken Hill by a team of camels. The houses were then re sited in Broken hill, just the same as we see houses being moved on the highways today, except they didn't halve them before moving, they just moved the whole house in one piece.

Having absorbed all this information, 'One of Us' spied a Cafe on the hill that had a display of old dolls, so that was the excuse to visit this establishment. Naturally as we were in there, we had to have a Devonshire Tea, just to show our appreciation for the free display that the cafe provided. In fact the menu was quite extensive and looked very appetizing and the prices were extremely reasonable. This is well worth a visit when in Silverton.

From here we drove a little further down the street and stopped at the Silverton Hotel, that had a replica of the Mad Max car used in the movie of the same name. We went into the hotel for a look and bought a Silverton tea towel to show appreciation to the owners of that establishment. Next came a visit to a gallery where prints and paintings are displayed in several rooms, some of which were quite good, others were less to our taste.

A bit further down the street we visited the Silverton Goal which was erected in 1899 at a cost of £5,035.0.0 Following the opening of the Broken Hill Goal in 1892, this goal was only used for short term prisoners and overnight lockup purposes. In the 1930's it was converted into a boys reformatory for some time, however it was closed in 1943 and was eventually abandoned until 1968 when it was renovated by members and friends of the Broken Hill Historical Society. Now it houses a huge array of memorabilia and displays of photographs, and old items dating back over a hundred years are now preserved for all visitors to see and only for a princely sum of $2.50 per head.) This premises must be put on your visiting list next time you pass by this way.

From here we drove out the the north of Silverton for a few kilometres and stopped at a lookout that provides views out over the Mundi Mundi Plain that spreads out in front of the eye for many kilometres to the north. The panoramic view above does not show anything of the plain that the eye can discern from that lookout.

Next we drove down onto the plain and around to Umberumberka Reservoir where we stopped for a photo or two before heading back through Silverton and returned to the caravan park around 2.pm. It was then time for lunch and the usual exhaustive activities for the rest of the afternoon in preparation for Happy Hour at 5.pm.

Tomorrow we are having a new tyre fitted to one of the caravan wheels as although there is a fair amount of tread left on it, this will allow us to have two new tyres on the caravan and to have two spares that are okay for quite some distance if needed. This is solely a precaution as we believe it would be cheaper to have this done in Broken Hill than out 'the back of Bourke' or in Central Queensland outback somewhere, which is the direction we intend to travel from here. While this is being done, we think we will take a stroll around the centre of Broken Hill then maybe look up one of the many galleries around the town.

Silverton Cafe - Home of great food
Silverton Cafe - Home of great food

Silverton Hotel and Mad Max car replica
Silverton Hotel and Mad Max car replica

Desert Sturt Pea in bloom
Desert Sturt Pea in bloom

For Sale - Quiet Location - Priced to sell
For Sale - Quiet Location - Priced to sell


Saturday 5th August 2006

The Vietnam War memorial in Broken Hill
The Vietnam War memorial in Broken Hill
Broken Hill street Mall
Broken Hill street Mall
Royal Flying Doctor Aircraft - Broken Hill
Royal Flying Doctor Aircraft - Broken Hill
The themometer told us it was just under 0 degrees this morning at about 7:30am, however there was no wind to add to the chill factor and it rose quite quickly once the sun has taken it's rightful place in the blue sky.

The staircase of the Palace Hotel where Priscella was filmed
The staircase of the Palace Hotel where Priscilla
was filmed

 

The first task was to change some tyres around on the caravan and remove one of them that we were getting replaced with a new one at 10:am. With all this done and the morning chores completed, we set off at about 09:50am for the Beaurepair tyre shop where we dropped off the wheel, then drove into the main street of Broken Hill where we visited the War Memorial and the replica Long Tan Cross which had been set up as a memorial to the soldiers that died in that battle and others in the Vietnam War. There is a photo on the front of this memorial that depicts the placement and dedication of the cross at the scene of the battle

This took place on 18th August 1969, which was the the aniversary of the battle itself and is still very clear in the memory of the 'Other One' as he was laying in the jungle nearby providing security against any disruption by Viet Cong or North Vietnames soldiers trying to gate crash the party....

After this we returned and picked up the new tyre and returned to the caravan where it was dutifully put in it's place on the caravan and made ready for the journey to the top of Australia and back again.

After the wheel was on and tight, we headed out again and made our way to the Royal Flying Doctor Base at the Broken Hill Airport.

This was a very interesting visit where entry was $5.50 each (all to keep the planes in the air) and after a short stroll around a small display area that housed some old pedal morse radios, other communication systems and first aid or medical items, we were shown a 10 minute video of the RFDS from its inception to todays aircraft, then we were escorted on a tour of the premises, including the communication centre and the hanger which housed three of their aircraft. One of these was from Tasmania, and was being serviced at the time in Broken Hill in the South East of Australia, and although they don't fly to Tasmania, they do service the aircraft from there and allow them to use one of Broken Hill's aircraft when this is being carried out.

This was a most interesting visit and the narrative whilst on the tour was quite enlighting. The $11 we paid to enter may not be much, but at least it is going to a good cause.

After leaving the RFDS base, we returned to the Town Centre and had a walk up and down the main street, then 'One of Us' decided it must be time to eat, so after checking out the menu of the Palace Hotel and deciding that it was a little expensive for a light lunch, we chose to eat at the Argent Cafe in the main street. Beer battered fish, chips and salad were the order of the day, of which 'One of Us' washed down with a glass of white wine whilst the 'Other One' settled for a can of coke.

On the way back to the vehicle, we walked into the foyer of the Palace Hotel and found ourselves right in the setting for some of the hotel scenes of the movie 'Priscilla - Queen of the Desert'. The murals painted on the walls, staircases and ceiling were quite magnificent, however they could not be captured to their best in any photographs as they were all around and space didn't allow any photographs from any distance.

Due to the time we had spent out to achieve all of this, we decided to save the art gallery visits until tomorrow, so we eventually returned to the caravan park around 3:pm and commenced our usual afternoon activities, including preparation for a sausage and mash dinner after Happy Hour. `

Palace Hotel - as seen in Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Palace Hotel - as seen in Priscilla Queen of the Desert

 

Inside the foyer of the Palace Hotel
Inside the foyer of the Palace Hotel

 

The Foyer stairs and roof of the Palace Hotel
The Foyer stairs and roof of the Palace Hotel

 


Sunday 6th August 2006

Jack Absalom - Coober Pedy Breakaways
Jack Absalom - Coober Pedy Breakaways

A warmer start to this morning with the thermometer saying it was 9.5 degrees at 7:30am and it continued to warm up from then on throughout the day until about 4:pm. This didn't mean we started our day any earlier. just warmer...

At about 10:45am we drove out of the caravan park and headed for the Jack Absalom Gallery which is located in Chapple Street. Although the gallery was open, the door was locked and we had to ring a bell to gain access and were admitted by an older woman who we discovered was Jack Absalom's sister-in-law as she is married to Reg Absalom.

Entry was free of charge and when asked if photographs were allowed inside the gallery, we were surprised to be told that "Jack had no problems with photographs of the paintings as long as people asked for permission first". However it was requested that no photographs be taken of the opal display in the centre of the gallery.

The gallery consisted of one fairly large room with paintings hung all the way around the outside. Jack Absalom's painting are all accurate reproductions of the countryside as seen through his eyes and are very realistic. There were some very large paintings hung high on the wall all the way around with smaller framed painting and prints closer to eye level. A number of the paintings were for sale, ranging from $1,200 through to many thousands of dollars. Reasonable size framed prints were available from around $450 and many smaller unframed prints from about $6 upward. We walked out in the end without an original Jack Absalom painting and had to settle for a set of six place mats and six drink coasters with prints of his paintings on them, this cost us $55 for the lot.

Before we left, as we were paying for our purchases, Jack's sister-in-law started to tell us a little about Jack and when asked when he took up painting, she stated that he was born at Port Augusta and spent a lot of his young years out on the Nullabor Plain as his father was a fettler on the railway and Jack did a lot of odd jobs to make money whilst out there, such as collecting Sturt Peas and selling them to the passengers on trains (sometimes without getting paid for them) and later, kangaroo shooting. Later when he was living in Broken Hill and working as a professional Kangaroo Shooter, he used to take people out with him into the ranges and they would paint the scenery whilst Jack looked on. One day he said that he thought he could do that and asked if they had a spare canvas. He returned with three paintings and told his family that he was now going to be a professional painter and he started from that time. He gained some assistance from others but developed his own style that we see in his paintings today.

This gallery should be on the visiting list of anyone passing through Broken Hill and if one had a healthier bank balance, a purchase of one of his paintings for sale would no doubt be an investment for the future.

We returned to the caravan park at about 12:10pm and 'One of Us' prepared a lunch of crusty white bread, chutney's cold meats and salads. This was assisted down with a glass of white wine for 'One of Us' whilst the 'Other One' had to settle for a can of coke, again.

Jack Absalom - Self Portrait
Portrait of Jack Absalom

Jack Absalom - Muster
Jack Absalom - Muster

Jack Absalom Large Painting
Another of Jack Absalom's many large paintings on display

After lunch we waited until the Pro Hart Gallery was opened after 1:30pm and then drove out to that gallery where we paid an entry fee of $4. This gallery was much larger and is said to be one of the largest private collections in Australia. It not only has paintings by Pro Hart, but also both European and Australian artists including Picasso, Arthur Boyd, Albert Tucker, Norman Lindsay and many others, including one room dedicated to Sir William Dobell. The paintings varied from abstract to some depiction of scenes, however in our humble opinion, none of them compare with the reproductions of Jack Absalom.

After browsing through this gallery for about an hour we then returned to the caravan park for the rest of the afternoon. We started watching the football match (on satellite) between Fremantle Dockers and Hawthorn and at one stage we believe we saw our darling young Asha barracking for Hawthorn behind the goal posts. Pammy went wild about that. This goal was repeated three times on replay and Pammy went wild about it each time... Gee Asha is popular...

Tomorrow will be a quiet day with a little bit of shopping, a visit to the local cemetery, and we will prepare to move on to Cobar on Tuesday.

Oammy's lunch
Pammy lunch

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