Tuesday, 06 May 2014

Highway to Hill?

Highway to Hill?

Silver City Highway

The Silver City Highway sounds like it will be a grand boulevard, lined with sparkling jewels and dripping with wealth but in fact it?s just a piece of crumbling bitumen that runs through several desolate townships all the way from Mildura to The Hill.

At least a massive road crew sporting a cast of at least fifty ?hi-vis/lo-go? blokes provided some light relief. Along with a dead pig, several emus, some recently shorn sheep, a dead kangaroo and a few wild goats that were dangerously close to the road adding to the endless vista of the flooded scrubland.

We pulled in for a cuppa at a roadside stop and Ian just couldn?t contain himself. He was off chatting to our fellow nomads by the time the kettle had boiled. One couple were locals on their way home to Broken Hill (or ?The Hill? as it?s known in these parts). They wanted to know what we thought of their lovely lush green countryside we?d been driving through. Apparently after all the rain they?ve had this season we were being treated to some rare and spectacularly pretty views. ? ? Hopefully, they won?t be reading this blog!

We arrived in Broken Hill like Mary and Joseph at Bethlehem. The ?Agfair? was in town, which is a massive farmers shindig that takes up the entire racecourse and most of the accommodation. Also, the vintage caravan club annual conference had booked out both caravan parks. Plus a film crew were in town shooting a movie about a Broken Hill taxi driver who travelled all around the countryside. And they?d been squeezed into every other nook and cranny around the town.

Basically, there was no room at the Inn. There was plenty of space out at Silverton (about 20k?s out of town) but the now cautious navigator had some concerns about the bogginess of the road. So the driver talked his way into an unpowered spot in the so-called Lakeside Caravan Park.

Remember our old pals Mary and Joe? Well, they enjoyed five star treatment in that drafty old manger compared to most of our neighbours that night. We found a cosy spot amongst the rusted remains of machinery and shedding looking out at a dishevelled young man who appeared to be living in his clapped out sedan next to a decrepit old toilet block. While behind us a skinny, shaky woman was housed in a makeshift tent with five dogs. Suffice to say, there is no lake anywhere near that park.

Miners Memorial, Broken Hill, NSW

The next morning we hi-tailed it out of there, breaking our step on the way out. Still, we were determined to find the silver lining in this town. So we set off to explore the Line of Lode museum and the Miners Memorial. This is an enormous pile of rocks that fills the skyline. Upon which, a sleek steel structure has been plonked like a cherry on top.

Unfortunately, this NSW city runs on South Australian time so we were half an hour too early! We raced out in the now pelting rain to a suspended steel bridge that houses the memorial. It would probably provide an incredible view of the entire region on a clear day but the wall of plaques dedicated to the 810 workmen who lost their lives in the mines was still well worth visiting.

We ran back to the carpark, now soaked to the skin, to find that Bounce had a flat tyre. Our canny driver had spotted a tyre joint on the way into town so we bumped and bounced away to get it fixed.

Any-hoo, to cut another long boring story short, it turns out we?ve actually got cracked welds in at least two of the brand new steel wheels on the Fiat. It seems we were lucky to have made it this far! Several telephone calls later, the now frazzled and frustrated driver has arranged for a replacement set from the nearest Fiat dealer. This however, is almost 400km away in Port Augusta.

By this time it?s late on Friday afternoon, the dealer wont be open again until Monday and we?ve both had enough of The (bleeping) Hill. We decide to head on out to Silverton and set up camp on a beautiful 72 acre picnic ground. The mine companies established Penrose Park as a retreat for their workers in the 1930?s and steam trains were run out there every weekend.

?We choose a grassy spot on the old oval just as a rainbow hit the horizon in the pink and gold setting sun. This was more like it?

Penrose Park, NSW











Glad you chose Penrose Park, was going to suggest that campground. We checked it out last year and thought it was a lovely spot. Pete thought it a little ways out of town as far as supplies go. Check out the little school at Silverton where Mary Gilmore was a young teacher. She was my great great aunt. There is some great memorabilia there. What an increadable journey you are having. A few tooooo many adventures for my liking. Drive safe guys. Cheers Chris & Pete

May 7, 2014 at 12:28 am
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We loved Silverton will blog about that next. I was so excited to find the Mary Gilmore connection that I sent photos to Loz! xx

May 7, 2014 at 6:15 am


Chris has hit the nail on the head – far tooooo many adventures going on with weird tyre situations for my liking as well. I did like the rainbow at the end of the story though – I like a rainbow ending sometimes… Sitting at Doha airport and almost had my lovely 5 hours alone disturbed by a white-haired 60-something gay man with REALLY bad coffee breath who was “on for a chat”… well I’m busy reading my sister’s blog – I can’t be doing with any chatting – especially not with bad-breathed gay men!

May 7, 2014 at 4:11 pm

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When Danielle?s not busy writing, she loves to read, attend writing events and travel as much as possible. Exploring also provides plenty of opportunity for Danielle to indulge in her favourite sports of eavesdropping and people watching, which manages to fill her notebooks with even more story ideas.

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My Favourite Books

Past the Shallows
We Don't Live Here Anymore
The Last Ride
Darkness on the Edge of Town
The Ottoman Motel
The Shadow of the Wind
The Book Thief
On the Jellicoe Road
Dirt Music
The Broken Shore
Foal's Bread
The Midnight Dress
Burial Rites
Angel Rock
The Vale Girl