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carmel’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 23 Mar 2006

Location: Broken Hill, NSW, Australia

MapThursday, 16 March 2006

We have decided to stay at the Rawnsley Park Station (7453 acres and 1200 merino sheep), 20 kms before Wilpena Pound. We were told that was the best place to stay, and, after checking out the park at the resort, I think that was right.

The trip there wasn’t great scenery, the land is so dry and arid and the mountain ranges look like bare cliffs. Every creek and waterhole was bone dry, and looked as though it had been for ages. We also saw lots of old, deserted and ruined cabins (I wouldn’t call them houses). I’m guessing the original holdings were too small to make a go of, so the more successful ones absorbed the smaller ones. That is what happened at Wakefield and the Watkins finished up with 100,000 acres and even that was marginal.

However, for a change, we have seen some live wildlife - a beautiful wedge-tailed eagle eating a dead kangaroo, plus some live kangaroos and emus. We’ve also seen a couple of dead sheep.

Friday, 17 March 2006

We went to the Woolshed Restaurant for tea last night. It is on the road to the caravan park (which is miles from anywhere) so we wouldn’t have been surprised if we’d been the only ones there, but there were 9 people there, which I don’t reckon was too bad. The restaurant is near the caravan park cabins (which were at least 5 kms away from the caravan park (segregation??)), so that’s where their patrons mainly come from. It was a really good meal, although we think the wine might have been off. We got talking to the folk at the next table which is always good.

Today we caught the 8.30am shuttle up to Wilpena Pound. We still had a 2+ km walk which got a bit hard at times, especially the climb to the lookout. However we took much less time than we had expected, so decided to walk back to the visitor centre (another 2.4kms) rather than wait for the shuttle. We got to the outskirts of the resort before we met him, so he drove us the last few metres. Even Barrie enjoys the walking now. The Wilpena Resort is really lucky, there is a permanent spring up near the pound. That is where all of their water comes from - and we actually saw water in the gully. However Rawnsley Park doesn’t have that luxury. This afternoon, the sheep came up almost to the van scratching around for food. The ground looked completely bare to us, but they seemed to be eating. We have beautiful lawn around our van, but they don’t get that close, except at night.

Sunday, 19 March 2006

We are now at Peterborough, we arrived here yesterday after an eventful trip. We had only just left Rawnsley Park Station when a kangaroo ran across the road just in front of us. Fortunately Barrie braked as another followed it and missed us by maybe a metre.

The first town we came to was Hawker where we needed to get petrol. However, we were stopped by an SES volunteer as we just got into town. He sounded really shocked so we knew it was bad. There had been a car accident, so we had to go around the block to get back on the main road and to the service centre. From there, we were almost opposite the accident. It had only happened less than an hour earlier. The car had crossed the road and hit an electric light pole. (It was lucky no-one was coming in the opposite direction.) He was the local newsagent, 36 years old. He was coming back from delivering the mail, papers and bread at Wilpena so the consensus was that he had gone to sleep at the wheel. Although the front of the car was an awful mess, the windscreen was OK which had made me think the driver would be OK also however they still hadn’t been able to get him out of the car which didn’t sound good.

The man at the service station was worrying whether the driver’s wife had been told yet. There are only 490 people living in Hawker so everyone would know everyone else.

Our next ‘town’ after Hawker was Craddock I never saw a house, but there was a hotel and 2 churches (and that was it).

I’ve found out why there are so many deserted houses in S.A. The government in their wisdom (sounds like today, doesn’t it) decided how large and the amount of stock a farm should be. However they based it on the few preceding good years - which are rare here - so they just weren’t viable, so those who could expanded, the others got out. The manager of the caravan park here said land is still leasehold and government still controls numbers, but has now become ultra-cautious.

All we’ve done so far at Petersborough is have a bit of a look around - lots of empty shops, unfortunately. It must be really hard to make a go of it in a small town like this. We have a couple of places to check out today after I use the internet (I’m going to use the park phone line which means I can use my computer for a change.) Another nice park, with a deer park and bird aviary. It also has Victoria Park next door.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get into Dodo at the caravan park, so I’ll try the library before we leave tomorrow. We went to Steamtown (a railway museum) and spent so long there (it was a guided tour and the guide, a volunteer, certainly loved his trains) that we only had time for a quick look at Meldonfield (handcrafted miniatures of life in the 1800s).

Monday, 20/3/06

Our first stop on the way to Broken Hill was Dawson, a ghost town, 14 (unsealed) kms off the main road. It was quite an exciting trip there. We had another close encounter with a kangaroo, then a fox went past, some goats, more kangaroos and finally some sheep. The problem was the animals didn’t just cross the road, they ran ahead of us for quite some time. There were also quite a few colourful birds and eagles, but they kept to the sky and off the road. We also saw an eagle being chased off by a flock of birds. Maybe there was a nest nearby. We saw another car at Dawson and warned them about the road hazards, but, on the way back, we never saw another animal. They probably didn’t, I wonder what they thought. All there was at Dawson was 2 churches and a roofless hotel.

On the way in, we saw a gate with a large sign ‘GATE’ on it - it’s a worry.

Apart from the trip to Dawson, it was a pretty boring trip - plains with hills in the distance. There was also more road kill in NSW. I don’t think it is the drivers. I think there is more food for wildlife and hence more wildlife.

We are staying at the Lakeview Caravan Park here at Broken Hill. It would probably be the worst maintained park we have stayed at so far.

Tuesday, 21/3/06

We visited Shirley’s brother and his wife this morning and then to Pro Hart’s studio. This evening, we went to see the Broken Hill Sculptures at sunset. (We went yesterday to see them, then found out we needed a key. We paid for one, and a couple from park tagged along with us.) It was much more impressive at sunset, especially as we had a perfect sunset.) This is a group of 12 sandstone sculptures created by 12 sculptors invited from around the world. They were all completed in 6 weeks in 1993.

Wednesday, 22 March 2006

This morning, we checked out Silverton, the ‘ghost’ town where ‘Mad Max 2’ and ‘A Town Like Alice’ were filmed. Mad Max’s car (MAX079) was parked outside the hotel. I particularly liked the (free) museum (they certainly could have charged - they had every imaginable thing there, including some great paintings and prints, but not for sale) and opal shop. The woman was very friendly. Her mother has Alzheimer’s and is at home with her and her husband. I think she just wanted to have a chat.

This afternoon, we saw Jack Absalom’s studio. We both prefer his painting style, so bought postcards of 19 of his paintings (that was all there were) and are going to arrange them in a frame - or rather, Barrie is.

We then checked out the Railway Museum - I’m getting trained out. However there was also a hospital museum and a minerals’ room there. Our next port of call was the Palace Hotel. Every inside wall and the roof is covered by murals, including ones of ‘Adam and Eve’ and ‘Chloe’ on the roof. They also had a ‘Priscilla of the Desert’ room.

Thursday, 23 March 2006

I spent the morning at the library, working on the internet. (When you only use 2 fingers, typing takes forever.) This afternoon, the key points were the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the GeoCentre, a geological museum which had a 42kg silver nugget (it just looked like rubble to me), lots of great mineral specimens and a 2/3m high, 8.5kg silver tree. I’ll try to put it in my photos.

Friday, 24 March 2006

We are finishing off our Broken Hill sight-seeing today. There are quite a number of ornate old-Victorian buildings and they are all very well-preserved. Another highlight here is the public toilets; any unusual building you see in a park, you can rest assured is a toilet block. We’ve also been to the Titanic memorial (in memory of the bandsmen from the Titanic) and the Line of Lode memorial to the 800+ miners who lost their lives working along the Line of Lode.
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