Into the Outback

Broken Hill Travel Blog

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Outback toilets

Yesterday we got on the bus to Broken Hill.  It was a 300km journey and once we had left Wentworth (a small town not far from Mildura) there was a noticeable change of scenery.  It was a lot greener than we expected, but that unmistakable red earth still showed through.  A storm had followed us from Mildura, and we were surrounded by deep grey clouds, lit up with flashes of fork lightening, making the landscape seem even more dramatic.  The land was so flat that the sky just seemed vast; most of the time we don't really appreciate it living in urban areas.  We stopped for a quick break at a place called Coombah, the only sign of human activity on the whole of the 300km stretch of road.

The stormy skies in the outback
  It consisted of a small gas station/shop and about 3 houses.  When we got off the bus, we wondered whether we had just walked onto the set of a castlemaine XXXX advert - there were two men sat on the veranda, boots, cowboy hats, one was asleep and the other was holding a baby.  It was exactly how you imagine a little place in the outback to look.  We continued our journey and passed flocks of wild emus, dust storms and some dramatic scenery.  We liked the outback already.  We also passed the biggest roadkill we had ever seen - poor skippy had been squished on the road.

Today we awoke with the rain.  Now bearing in mind that Australia is in its 6th year of drought, this was surprising to say the least - obviously the storm from yesterday had not fully cleared.

Broken hill is full of disused mines
  We spent the day exploring the town.  It is full of old style pubs with balconies, colonial style architecture and landscaped green spaces, somewhat incongruous with the surrounding desert.  We walked by the Palace Hotel which reputedly has the longest balcony in Australia and was used to film some of the scenes for Priscilla Queen of the Desert.  

The origins of Broken Hill go back to 1883, when boundary rider Charles Rasp pegged out a 40 acre lease of a "broken hill" that he believed contained tin.  Little did he know that it contained the largest single source of lead, silver and zinc ore ever discovered on earth, 7.5km long by 250 wide - known as the "Line of Lode."  It is thought to have originally contained more than 300million tons of ore; these days there are only 700 miners left, working on the southern and northern tips of the line.  Estimates reckon on another 10 years of mining, and after that the town's future is uncertain.  Compared to other outback mining towns it is doing well but still the population (23,000) continues to gradually decrease, as does the towns pubs - down from 70 - 20! 

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Outback toilets
Outback toilets
The stormy skies in the outback
The stormy skies in the outback
Broken hill is full of disused min…
Broken hill is full of disused mi…
Angry skies in Broken Hill
Angry skies in Broken Hill
Broken Hill
photo by: roamingduck