Thursday, 18 August 2016

Mildura, Broken Hill and Silverton

After leaving Daylesford we had originally planned to head to South Australia but the weather was going to be terrible with cold wet and windy conditions so instead we decided to start our journey north and towards home and our next stop was Mildura.
Mildura is a huge grape growing area both for wine and dried fruit like sultanas.  This industry dominated the area for over 100 years due to the ability to use the Murray River for irrigation.  We did a driving tour of the Chaffey Trail which is all about how irrigation changed the ladscape in this arid region of Australia and to look at some of the historic buildings associated with the industry.  It appeared that quite a few of the vineyards were being left and not managed and some were being removed and replaced with housing developments.  I can only assume that this is due to reduced irrigation or poor returns for fruit.

The Historic Psyche Bend Pumping Station - where just next door water is still pumped out of the Murray River

Rio Vista Historic House
 Just over the border in Wentworth NSW is where the Murray and Darling Rivers merge and you can see the line in the river flows below.  There had been rain so the river colours were the same but normally one is brown due to a muddy bottom and one is blue due to a sandy bottom.

River merge
 Just outside of Wentworth are the Perry Sand Hills.  It is quite amazing that this dune system is just out of town and when you wander around you would think you are right out in the middle of the dessert. 

There have been remains of mega fauna found here and it is a culturally significant are to the local aborigional people.  One of the amazing things in the dunes is a huge River red Gum that has been burried by the san all the way up the trunk so that now as you walk around it you are actually walking around in the canopy.

River Red Gum Canopy only above the sand
 In the photo below you can just make out Hubby on the left hand side under the canopy which gives you an idea of the size of this tree.  It is enormous and estimated to be nearly 500 years old.

Once you see things closer up you can see that the branches of canopy are as big as tree trunks.

Jessie had an amazing time on the sand dunes and ran around like a dog possessed.  I am not sure if she just had excess energy to burn or if it was the environment but she had a great time racing up and down the dunes.

Next stop Broken Hill and what an interesting place.  It had 72 pubs at it's height and these days while most of the pubs are still standing many are now closed and these days there are more art galleries operating than pubs in fact Broken Hill seems to attract artists and we did get to a few galleries including the Pro Hart and Jack Absalom galleries.
We did a self guided walking tour of the centre of town looking at many of the amazing old buildings with their beautiful stone work and ironwork.

The Trade Union center

The town hall

The court house

One of the old pubs with sunflower ironwork
Broken Hill was built on silver mining and in the below photo you can see the "Broken Hill" or what is left of it in the distance and all the spoil that now forms part of it.

Looking back from the top of the Hill back to where the previos photo was taken with the city spread out below.

Most of the early houses were made entirely of corrugated roofing iron as it was one of the few materials easily transported and readily available that could deal with the harsh conditions. Until recently with the advent of air conditioning and evaporation cooling I cannot imagine living in a tin box in the heat of a Broken Hill summer however many people still build this way I assume with better insulation.

A new home still built with corrugated iron

Just west of Broken Hill there is a great sculpture display out in the desert.  It is recommended to visit at sunset which is what we did.  There is also a flora and fauna reserve with walks and displays of aboriginal heritage at the site which we did prior to going up to the sculptures which sit on top of the hill.  Below is just one of the sculptures.

Just west of Broken Hill is Silverton and while it once had about 3000 inhabitants today there is only about 50.  It has been the location for many films including Mad Max, Priscilla, Mission Impossible and many others.  We did an underground mine tour at the historic Daydream Mine.  I am not sure that it would have been much of a daydream as the rock was so hard they only progressed at a rate of 40cm a day.  It was fascinating and this mine even used horses that were lowered down into the mine to pull the carts, not much of a life for the poor horse.  The tour took just over an hour and for a pregnant lady it was just the right length of time to be underground going up and down steps.

Ready to go underground

All those rock on the left of the photo are backfill in a space that has been mined and
Hubby is standing between the rail for the carts.

My belt supporting the battery pack for my miners lantern had to go above the waist
since I no longer have one.

This is the smelter ruins which due to safety we were unable to visit but that is a big pile
of spoil in the front.

 The township of Silverton is primarily old historic buildings and you can do a self guided walking tour, we didn't do it due to lack of time but there were plenty of other people out doing the tour.

Apparently the Mad Max museum is really interesting but sadly it was closed when we were there.

We called in at John Dynon's gallery and I got a couple of prints.  I would have liked one of the originals I saw but at $900 it was out of our price bracket with a baby one the way and everything else we have going on.

We also visited his son in law Justin Cowley's gallery and again there was art I really liked.

There were more galleries to visit and the pub looked really interesting and there were heaps of people enjoying a drink and looking around but for Hubby there is only so many galleries he will go to before he has had enough and I only have a limited amount of energy these days.


  1. Thanks for sharing your trip with us Fiona, Australia really is an amazing place.

  2. Thanks for sharing tales and photos of your travels, Fiona. What a great trip! That is an amazing tree! 500 years old, buried up to the canopy in sand, and it's still standing. WOW! Such resilience! I once took a group of 9 and 10year olds into forest near Gympie and one of the activities we did was to listen, with stethoscopes, to this magnificent tree drawing up and circulating sap. We could hear a kind of "whoosing sound" ... the tree's "heartbeat" as it nourished itself just as our human body circulates nourishment to our cells. I could've heard a pin drop in that forest that day, those children were so quiet and many realised, I think perhaps for the first time in a very real way, that trees are living things. Like us. And that it's a big deal to chop one down because that "life" stops when the axe has done its work. I'm sure you'll enjoy being back home again now, getting ready for your move and for baby to come. Exciting!


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