Yesterday, we stayed at Nine Mile Station just outside Broken Hill, a vast cattle station that allows free camping. Greg was a lovely host, leading us out to our spot on the (dry) creek (and warning us about snakes sunning themselves!).
We were pretty isolated out here but loved it. It was like having the Outback to ourselves. We decided to stay a second night.
For sunset, we made our way to The Living Desert, a park known for its stunning sandstone sculptures, which were created by artists from around the world in 1993 as part of the “Sculptures in the Desert” project. There are 12 sculptures in total, each one representing a different theme or concept related to the desert landscape and the local Aboriginal culture.
Then last night, we drove back into Broken Hill for dinner at The Palace Hotel, one of the main settings for Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert.
After dinner, it was karaoke night. We did not sing, though I was tempted. (If Adam was tempted, he did not let on.) Some of the singers were great. Regardless, the audience was very welcoming and supportive of all comers. Good fun.
Today has been a bit of a work/admin/laundry day. I was in charge of laundry, as Adam was a bit tied to work calls. Greg assured me the washing machine was “easy.” Me? I felt like Half-Pint from Little House on the Prairie. All that was missing was my washboard. The washing machine was older than I am!
I had to fill it manually with a hose! Then the spin dryer was basically a lettuce dryer for clothes that you then had to put on the line. (I will offend waaaay too many Aussies if I go off on clotheslines and Hill’s Hoists and what a waste of time I think they are. Let’s review: Kasey=princess, and Kasey misses her dryer.) Anyway, I think the clothes got clean. We haven’t been sniffing each other with disdain, at least.
With clean clothes (sort of) and work calls behind us, we headed out to the Day Dream Mine, a former silver mine that now offers underground tours. (This was a bit further out but still on Greg’s property.)
The drive out there – about 10 kilometres – was one of the highlights of the trip so far – though not on purpose. We did not know how to get to the mine, so naturally we called upon our friend, Google Maps. Apparently, this was not the right thing to do. We ended up on some very rough Outback terrain, bouncing along like popcorn in a hot pot.
Eventually, we came to a person in a forklift – Greg! – who told us he would let us keep going only because he knew us and he thought Sherwood could survive the journey. He said, “Google Maps is going to get someone killed one of these days,” but off we went, laughing nervously. Sherwood did us proud, and I laughed my ass off.
We made it to the mine. We kicked off with Devonshire tea (scones and jam, sorry @SaraAshmore) in the teahouse.
Then, clad in headlamps and hard hats, we climbed down into the mine, about 35 metres below the surface. I loved this (this would have been my mother’s worst nightmare – oh lover of light that she is).
We saw the conditions the miners would’ve worked in by candlelight (not ideal); learned some of the history of the mine; and enjoyed our blokey local tour guide, Angus. An exhilarating experience!
From the mine, we made our way to Silverton – this time, on a main road. Silverton markets itself as a bit of a ghost town, and it’s pretty quiet here. Still, it has also been the setting for a number of Aussie movies, and the Silverton Hotel, a pub, is an icon.
Here, we did a bit of the heritage walk, walking out to Helen Murray’s (no relation) photography studio and garden. She told me that these are apostle birds, cuz they live in families of around 12, like the 12 apostles:
We stopped at the pub for a cold beverage before heading out to Mundi Mundi lookout for the infamous sunset. It didn’t disappoint. They say you can see the curvature of the Earth there on the horizon, and I’d agree. Stunning.
After oohing and aahing the sunset, we headed to our next accommodation, at Silverton Outback Camels – a camel (and many other animal) farm in Silverton, run by the amazing Petah. Our campsite was nestled among a replica of the compound from Mad Max 2. We were led to our campsite by a farmhand and an emu. We were told that there were friendly emus here, but that this one – named Toto – was rather territorial and it would behoove us to move about the property with large sticks to ward him off if need be.
We would get to know Toto – and the rest of the animals of Silverton Outback Camels – tomorrow.