Day 21 to 23 of our Big Trip of the Simpson and now the Flinders Ranges

Thursday, Jul 16, 2015 at 16:24

Member - Matwil

Well we are now into our 6th day in Broken Hill and the weather is freezing. 1 degree last night but a wind chill of minus 4. The air is very cold and if you are in the shade it is bitter, worse than Blackheath. This morning when we woke up it was full on fog and we thought we were back home. Even now at 10.30am the air temperature is minus 2. Can’t wait to get back up north again. Today we hope the part for the truck arrives and we can get Clive back this afternoon and continue on our trip tomorrow. I think we have seen almost all that is to be seen in Broken Hill.
Yesterday we went to the miners’ memorial on the top of the tailings about the same spot where mining started here in the late 1880’s. They have a name for every miner killed in the mines. The first is undated but most probably 1880 something and he died of lead poisoning, as did many in the early days. There is a white poppy against every name. The last to die was 2008. Many that died is the 1970’s on died from heart attacks.
Later we went out to the Royal Flying Doctor base which is the largest of the 22 in Australia. What an eye opener. They are the only medical service outside Broken hill for an area that stretches from the Flinders Ranges to Oodnadatta, Charleville in Queensland. Last year out of Broken Hill they flew 5.7 million kilometres, equivalent to 7 flights to the moon and back and treated 50,000 patients. As well as providing medical services to outback farms they run medical and dental clinics in all the towns where there is no doctor, and that is every town outside Broken Hill. Because of the shortage of medical staff in Broken Hill they also provide free medical service to all tourists on the road and as well as tourists in Broken Hill. What a service, it is definitely a service worth supporting as only 75% of their annual budget is supplied by government. Their main fund raising is to buy the equipment they need, such as planes, medical equipment, radio equipment etc as government funding does not cover plant and equipment. I wonder what politician or public servant thought up that system to save money. Doesn't make sense to me if the organization you fund has no equipment. Bit like a Yes Minister script to me.
Louise did a guided tour of the cemetery which she found very interesting. In the cemetery are two unmarked graves in the Muslim section. They belong to two Afgan men from Pakistan who on 1 January 1915 attacked a train taking families out to Silverton for a New Years day picnic. They were loyal to the Ottoman Empire and in papers found on them it was clear they bore no malice but as the turks were at war with England and her dominions then they had a duty to fight. Four Australians died and seven wounded. These deaths were the only deaths on Australian soil in the First world war due to enemy action.
Late yesterday we went to the Tramway Museum in the old Silverton Tramway Station. It was soon to close but we saw enough to go back there today.
The Silverton Tramway story is an interesting one two. The NSW government built the railway to Broken Hill, and the south Australian Government did to, but had to stop at the boarder. The NSW Government refused to join the two railways up, and so a band of people got together and formed the Silverton Tramway Company. They couldn't call it a train as the government owned the term so they called it a tramway although it was a train system. It became the largest and most profitable train system in the world and ceased operating in the 1970’s after the standard guage railway system was completed.

We also visited the Pro Hart Galley that features many of his famous works, as well as his collection of Rolls Royces. It was very interesting to view some of his work that you do not see featured elsewhere, still lifes and people. Also featured was a very haunting painting “Gallipoli”which I found fascinating.

IN the first world war some 4,000 men enlisted and over 1400 were killed. Those that went to war were booed and shunned by the populace at large. What drove enlistment was a halving of the mine workforce between 1914 and 1916. This being a union town, they opposed the war and the resulting conscription and those that went to war were looked down upon. The other interesting thing was that about 10% of the population was from countries that Australia was at war with, and they had an even worse time of it. However, things changed when the men returned and they were honoured. Still today Anzac Day is one of the biggest ceremonial days in Broken Hill with a sea of crosses remembering every serviceman killed in the first World War newly prepared each year.

In the Railway Museum is an area where 70 immigrant families tell their story of how they came to Broken Hill and became part of the folklore of this town. Working in the mines and bringing their culture and ways to the area. Grape growing was introduced by the Italians, is just an example. It makes one reflect how we treat people who flee persecution overseas now, to how we did then. We were a lot more accepting in the old days, and it would appear we had more empathy to people doing it hard, than what we have today.
As I walk around Broken Hill I see empty shops and many tourist type businesses closing down. This is not just happening in Broken Hill but in every country town in Australia. It is a pity as our culture and heritage is slowing dying and being lost. Yes there are volunteers trying to save it but they are all old people and when they go I wonder if it will all be lost. Grey Nomads seem to be keeping many country areas going. The spend in caravan park accommodation fees last year was over $7 billion dollars with grey nomads spending another $10 billion in those towns. As a country if we are to survive we have to look to changing our city centric outlook. If we don't I think that there are plenty of people overseas who would be happy to move to country towns for an improved way of life.
Yesterday we went to the Regional Art Gallery where they had an exhibition of the Archilbald entries. So in Broken Hill I have seen something that I would not see in Sydney.

I have just had news that the part for the truck has not arrived, which is not good news. If it is not here tomorrow then we will staying here for at least 4 more days. I am not in a very happy mood at the moment. Might look for a part time job.
The weather doesn't help. Its now 4.30pm and the temp is 11 degrees but the air temp 4. It is bitter when you are not in the sun. If it was warmer maybe my mood would be better.
Wanting to explore our vast wide land
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