CAMPED ON THE RACETRACK AT BROKEN HILL
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
325Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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JOURNEY: Burra to Broken Hill on Barrier Highway- 356 kms
OVERNIGHT: St Patrick's Racetrack Broken Hill
The Barrier Highway takes us through large sheep stations and closer to the Outback. We stop at Yunta for lunch where you can take the the dirt road to Arkaroola and past the Flinders Ranges and into the merciless Strzelecki Desert. This journey is for very well equipped 4x drive vehicles!
We drove on to Broken Hill and took a while to decide on our accommodation- we inspected the caravan parks and all were crowded and dusty so we found ourselves camped on a very quiet and grassy members area at the Saint Patrick's Racetrack, a few kilometers from town. Just two other campers so there was plenty of space and we paid $20 pn for an unpowered site - we could have paid another $5 to plug into power.
Broken Hill is Australia's first mining city- BHP began mining silver, lead and zinc here in 1885 and BHP (Broken Hill Proprietary), now called BHP Billiton is today the world's biggest mining company. A syndicate of seven men discovered the magic ore on an isolated "broken hill" and the ore has been the world's largest single source of silver, lead and zinc, generating over $100 billion. The story of Broken Hill is, as with all mining towns, a story of boom and bust! The population has decreased to 20,000 as mining deposits dwindle and automation has an effect.
Life in the mines was very tough and workplace health and safety was a low priority in the early days and there is a Miner's Memorial dedicated to 800 miners who died here. Many miners were seriously ill from lead poisoning and unionism fought many battles for the workers and became very powerful in this city! Mining continues here today under safer conditions.
Let's not forget that some classic Australian movies were made here- Priscilla Queen of hte Desert, Mad Max 2 etc.!
It is a classic Australian outback town with sprawling pubs and historic buildings lining very wide roads and streets. We walked around the city and visited the interesting Regional Art Gallery- we noticed many smaller private galleries, perhaps cashing in on the fame of Broken Hill's most famous citizen Pro Hart.
We gained more respect for Pro Hart's art when we called in at his gallery and watched an inspiring video of his life. He produced 100,000 individual art works in his lifetime as well as working down in the mines for 17 years in Broken Hill. A real local character!
The Living Desert Sculpture Park, 9 kms from town is very impressive and we enjoyed a couple of hours walking the park admiring the landscape of arid desert plants and the amazing 12 huge sandstone sculptures on top of the hill; these sculptures were the work of artists from all over the world and there is a spiritual feel to the place.
Two of the artists refer to the death of the wonderful Fred Hollows who brought eye surgery and health clinics to the aboriginals in the outback. Don't miss it!
The nights at the racetrack were very cold and after dinner we wrapped ourselves in the doonas to read and keep warm! There have been record low temperatures recorded around the country this winter and we can vouch for that. Of course it was early to bed and late to rise!!
We enjoyed our short stay in this historic Australian mining town with the arid rocky landscape stretching into the outback,and colourful town centre. For those who may not know, Broken Hill is uncomfortably stifling hot in the summer so wandering and exploring in the cool winter temperatures was a better deal, we thought!