Today we said our goodbyes to Ken and Fay. We will miss them. Then we noticed
Helen and Ron were leaving so we wandered over to say goodbye, only to be
told Betty and Barry were also leaving. These are friends we made before
the Festival began. When that was all done we returned to the caravan to
finish breakfast. We didn't do much else other than read and play computers.
I wanted to get some washing done before it rained so I was out early,
getting it done. We then went shopping for groceries; we had to stock up
as we don't know what shops we will find in the next two towns. From what
we have been told we shouldn't expect too much. Once back at the caravan
I packed everything away and vacuum packed the meat. Marvellous machine.
Then I ironed everything I had washed and before I knew it, it was time
for Happy Hour. I did some more washing and ironing and then cleaned the caravan.
Pete Mate did the outside. We then packed everything away, for tomorrow
we leave Tamworth for pastures new. We were up early and ready to leave the caravan park by 8:00 a.m.
Pete Mate took the caravan to have some repairs done and I walked into town
to try and sort out the mail and have a browse through the shops. I really
didn't want to sit in a hot car for hours whilst the repairs were done.
As it turned out we couldn't leave Tamworth today as the silicon on one
of the repairs has to have time to 'cure' before we travelled. The mail
turned up at lunchtime, one week three days for an Express Bag!!! The receptionist
here reckons that is pretty good as most mail takes much longer. Once we
were set up again in the caravan park we did our usual things, read, played
computers and knitted.
We were up and not ready early this morning - two mornings in a row is too
much to expect. We were, however, on the road by 10:00 a.m. and had a good
run through to Gilgandra. On arrival at the caravan park we were greeted
warmly by the managers and shown where we could set up camp. We had just
set up when a huge storm came in. Thunder, lightning, wind and
rain; the works. Peter got trapped in the Gents and had to wait for a break
in the rain to run back to the 'van. He still got very wet. It didn't last
too long so we walked into town to see what the pub was like. It was very
nice with very friendly people. In fact Gilgandra is a very friendly town.
I went for a walk at 7:00 a.m. to buy bread and milk. Usually the bakery
opens long before we are up but not in this town. I eventually found a café/takeaway
shop that had milk for sale but not bread. After I smiled sweetly, the man
sold me a loaf. Once back at the caravan, and breakfast out of the way,
we got ourselves ready for the next leg of our journey. We again had a good
run through to Cobar but didn't receive a warm welcome here. She was efficient
but you couldn't say friendly. We set up camp and had a rest as we are to
explore the town tomorrow. People in the park seem friendly enough and apart
from very basic amenities, it is a pleasant place. There are four showers
in the Ladies. One has a broken tap and another has a broken soap dish with
a jagged edge, leaving two useable. Both those were pretty dirty as a mop
hasn't been provided to clean up after yourself. Not the best park we have
ever stayed in.
Some days I wake up and feel 55 years old, other days I wake up
and feel 35 years old. Today I woke up feeling very, very old. Two days
on the road doesn't really agree with me. I guess I should be grateful that
I wake up at all! We went to the much recommended museum and information
centre. It was okay but nothing exceptional; I guess we have been to so
many museums that we are looking for something other than the old washing
tub or egg beater. The mining section was quite good and they did have some
funny stories about people that had lived here. Norman Ferson lived to be
109 . . .
Norman Ferson - 1800-1909. In 1903
aged pensions were reviewed. Norman Ferson was among those required
to appear before local magistrates and produce evidence of birth.
Examination proceeded as follows:-
Bench: What is your name?
Ferson: Norman Ferson.
Bench: What age are you?
Ferson: 103 years old.
Bench: Where were you born?
Ferson: Quebec, Canada.
Bench: Married or single?
Bench: Any children?
Bench: How many?
Bench: Where are they?
Bench: What did they die of?
Ferson: Old age.
Pension was granted. His birth certificate revealed
he was born in Quebec in April 1800. Norman, known as "Old Norman",
was shipwrecked off the north Australian coast and came ashore near
Normanton in the Gulf of Carpentaria. He lived in that area with the
Aborigines for 17 years.
Arriving in Cobar he supplemented his pension by chopping stove wood
for housewives. He was a tall erect man, wore no boots and raised his
knees high as he walked. His clothes were gifts of benevolent humourists.
A claw hammer morning coat exposed his grey flannel shirt and dickey
front. Trousers were rolled up to the knee. His greasy, smoky grey locks
protruded through the cracked crown of his straw boater.
Fond of reading, he cherished books. When he saw a book that he had
lent to a wheelwright in Dierke's blacksmiths shop, put up for auction,
he went to Dierke. The wheelwright saw him coming and fled out the back
of the shop. As he climbed the back fence Norman hit him on the head
with the spoke of a wheel. The wheelwright died six months later from
injuries received. Norman was charged with assault and sentenced to
three years. He said he just "gave him a tap on the napper with
the spoke of a wheel". He was then 103 years.
He served his time in Cobar, dining at the gaol and during the day,
sitting on a form on the boardwalk of the Commercial Hotel.
Ward and Lebb's Store, Linsley Street, was burnt down in April, 1909,
and the fire assessor gave Norman a case of pickles from the salvage.
The case would have weighed about 38 kg. As Norman, with the case on
his shoulder, stepped on to the footpath, he slipped and broke his hip.
He was put in hospital, where he wanted his leg removed, for he knew
the chance of healing was slight. His request was not granted and he
died in hospital in September, 1909.
Both the photo and the text are reproduced
from the Cobar Information Centre and Museum.
After a very nice lunch at one of the coffee shops in
town we went out to a mine lookout. Now that was interesting,
watching a working gold mine. We saw vehicles moving in and out of the
mine and it looked quite hairy. I decided that it would not be a job for
After the lookout we visited the pub where we met a couple of friendly
people. Heading back to camp we had a nap before getting ready to move
We were up early and on the road by 8:30 a.m. as we have a long way to
go today. For most of the journey the road was long and straight without
much traffic. The landscape was very flat and the earth had the deep reddish
colour that is 'so Australian', to coin a popular phrase. I just love
to look at the harsh isolation of the outback, it makes me wish I could
paint. We saw plenty of feral goats and sheep grazing on what seemed dirt
but I am sure there was some sort of grass. We, of course, spied the beautiful
wedge tail eagles high in the sky.
We stopped off at a roadhouse for morning tea and to stretch our legs.
What a dump! It was for sale at $303,000 and it would need at least that
spending on it to clean it up. So, no, we didn't buy it.
Eventually, at around 4:00 p.m. we trundled into Broken Hill and found
the caravan park. They were friendly and the park is nice enough. The
important things are in order, i.e. toilet and showers are clean and well
We discovered that during our journey we had lost one of the vent covers
from the fridge, so once we had set up camp Pete Mate dashed off to the
local Jayco agent to buy a new one. We do not know how the vent came off
as one of the checks Pete Mate does before we set off is to check that
they are secure. He managed to buy one for an exorbitant price and has
been advised by the Jayco person to screw it on this time - they are designed
to clip on. Mmmm, why didn't they screw it on in the first place?
(Answer: So they will fall off then they can charge an exorbitant
price for a replacement. Ed.)
Once all the chores were out of the way it was time for Happy Hour . .
. or was it? We had to turn our clocks back half an hour as Broken Hill
operates on South Australian time even though it is in New South Wales.
Confusing as the ABC programmes come from Sydney and they are on New South
Wales time. We will probably get used to it by the end of the week and
then it all changes because we will be in Victoria for a few days. Then
it will change again as we cross into South Australia. Confused? So are
The caravan was full of dust; we think we collected it along our journey
because of the missing vent. It was major clean up time, plus I did a
heap of washing. After lunch we went to do some shopping and visit the
information centre. I cannot believe people say there is nothing to do
here, there is so much to do we may have to stay longer than a week.
We packed a picnic lunch and managed to leave the caravan by a reasonable
time. We first went to The Conservation Centre as they had machinery on
display. The tourist information guide gave conflicting times for the
opening hours. Luckily we went as it was closing at midday. I sat in the
car and did crosswords whilst Pete Mate enjoyed himself. Why, oh why,
is ugly old machinery so interesting to look at? I don't know. The Blue
Bank is now in debt, big time. Roll on a pink day.
We then went to a lookout which is also a disused mine on a small hill.
It was very interesting having a look around, it was well documented by
the placards dotted about the site. After we had finished looking we had
our lunch. The next lookout we intended to visit is a 'must do'
place which we would have done if the gate had not been padlocked! The
lookout has a café and it would appear that if the café
is closed, so too is the lookout. Being the experienced tour guide that
I am I quickly slotted something else in its place.
The GeoCentre is a mineral museum which houses the famous Silver Tree,
pictured here. We only know it is famous because we read the tourist information
- we'd never heard of it before.
The tree, sixty eight centimetres high and made entirely of silver, weighs
8.5 kg. It is exquisite and well worth a visit if in Broken Hill (though
photography isn't helped by its glass enclosure). The whole museum was
interesting with so many beautiful specimens on display. We spent quite
a bit of time in there reading and listening to everything, plus Pete
Mate was taking photos.
There was an interesting story about Saint Barbara, the Patron Saint of
Miners, as well as being the patron saint of many other professions. The
story follows . . .
Once upon a time in the third century AD, a beautiful
maiden named Barbara had a father Dioscurus, who imprisoned her in
a tower because she wouldn’t immediately agree to marry a wealthy
suitor whom he had chosen.
After she was imprisoned, she had builders put three windows in the
tower against her father’s wishes. To her the windows represented
the Holy Trinity, for Barbara was secretly a Christian.
Unfortunately for Barbara, her father was a heathen and when she finally
told him she was a Christian and could not marry a heathen suitor,
Dioscurus turned her over to the Roman forces who tortured her and
condemned her to death by the hand of Dioscurus, her father.
Dioscurus gladly beheaded his own daughter. However, as he did so
he was struck by lightning and died instantly.
The flash of lightning and the crash of thunder avenged Barbara’s
death and she became the patron saint of armed forces, explosive workers,
people in thunderstorms, foundry workers and miners. As Barbara was
imprisoned and because she had windows installed in her tower, she
is also the Patron Saint of prisoners, architects and carpenters.
Immigrants from many places brought her protection with them to Broken
Hill and so she came here by many nationalities.
Lay day. I didn’t feel well, another blasted cold.
We drove out to a mine for Peter to do a tour. What we didn't know was we
had to go 13 kms. down a dirt road so poor old Billy is covered in red dust.
Peter enjoyed his tour and I enjoyed not going on it. I chatted to the owner
and one or two other people. The pink credits are accumulating big time.
Once we left the mine we went into the town of Silverton . . . .
||Silverton, a ghost town, population now 45 to 50.
|| The town became famous when Mad Max 2 was filmed
there. We saw a replica of the car outside the pub. Actually a lot of movies
were filmed there, one being A Town Like Alice, a favourite of
mine. The town itself has very few buildings left but even so it is a fascinating
place. The landscape looks so desolate you could even film a moon landing
here and people would believe it was the real thing.
||The Catholic Church at Silverton.
We visited the pub twice, not because we wanted to but
we had to see the owner and give him a message from a mutual friend. That's
our excuse and we're sticking to it. Plus it was the only place you could
buy lunch. We spent a bit of time going through the museum in the town,
which was interesting, but they had so much stuff it over-faced you. From
there we went to a lookout and then the reservoir.
The area surrounding the reservoir is so dry and barren it amazed us to
see so much water in the middle of nowhere. We saw a strange sight; a
group of people dressed in business clothes were walking across the dam
wall. Then when we got to the pub, there were some more 'suits' drinking
- the State Minister for Tourism and Housing and his entourage. What were
they checking out - the beer?
After that we decided we had had a full and interesting day so we headed
home and on our arrival found a Happy Hour in progress so we dragged our
chairs over and filled our glasses and a good time was had by all.
Today was supposed to be a mixture of pink and blue. We started off at
the Railway Museum but alas it was closed. We walked around the perimeter
of the property trying to find a way in. Yes, we were keen. Well . . .
one of us was. It was all locked up tight. So off we went to the Line
of Lode Lookout and Miners Memorial - the place with the locked gate that
we'd tried to visit earlier.
It was pretty good, the memorial was very sad but the views from the lookout
were excellent. We now travelled into south Broken Hill which is 'very
historical' according to the tourist book, they also have a 1950's milk
bar and museum. I would have described the place as scruffy and run down
and that goes for the milk bar as well. The coffee was good, or so I am
told by Mr Coffee Expert. After all this excitement we did some shopping
and then went home.
Today we walked the town. We did the self-guided walking tour which was
very interesting. Along the way Pete Mate managed to slot in some blue
time, looking at old mining equipment in a park and as we passed the Railway
Museum we saw it was open, so in we went. The most interesting display
for me was the Immigrant section; it was fascinating reading about how
and where the people of Broken Hill originated.
We called in at one of the many art galleries here which had the added
attraction of also being a chocolate factory. Big disappointment; it was
just a shop with no one in attendance, just a sign promising they would
be back in 45 minutes. But 45 minutes from when? The art work was pretty
Back to the walk; we saw a lot of really fine old buildings and some not
so fine. The War Memorial was pretty grand, with a huge section dedicated
to the Vietnam War. Usually that is just tacked on the end somewhere,
Broken Hill produced a lot of illustrious characters, some famous. To
name three of the more famous ones:-
Dame Mary Gilmore was the first woman
to join the Australian Workers Union. Her image appears on the 1993
Lieutenant Vivian Bullwinkel was the sole
survivor of the Japanese massacre of nurses on Bangka Island during
June Bronhill, the world famous opera singer.
||Broken Hill also produced Selena Hearn McHugh, the first
lady Blacksmith of Broken Hill and Tess Alfonzi, the gun toting boss of
the Triple Chance Mine. Now if you had been paying attention you will note
that I haven't mentioned any men; there were a few of those but as it was
'supposed' to be a pink day I have left them out.
I read an interesting item in the museum, and again on a placard whilst
on our walk, that Labour Day which we celebrate in Australia (in W.A. it
is in March) originated from the 'Eight Hour March'. This march was a protest
by the miners who wanted to work an eight hour day, play eight hours and
sleep eight hours. Why I find it so interesting is that when we arrived
in Australia 26 years ago and asked, "What is Labour Day?",
no one could tell us. Over the years I have heard different versions.
The tour ended in the Black Lion Hotel where all good tours end. It was
then home to a very hot caravan for a rest before happy hour.
Today we had planned to do a walk to look at some sculptures and to visit
a mine museum that was also a dolly and teddy museum. Well, we didn't go
because I cannot shake this cold off and today I felt worse. So Peter played
computers and I read and knitted.
Get ready day. Usual stuff - packing away, cleaning, washing, ironing and
We left Broken Hill quite early for us - around 8:30 a.m. We would like
to revisit Broken Hill some day as we both enjoyed it and we still haven't
seen the dolly and teddy museum! Our trip took around four hours and was
uneventful. We arrived at Mildura in time for lunch with good friends Phil
and Dawn who live just outside the town. We then went to the caravan park
and set up camp before returning to Phil and Dawn's for dinner. It was a
beautiful dinner, we drank good wine and most importantly enjoyed the company
of two very nice people.
The caravan park is a little dusty as the water restrictions here do not
allow any watering. Apart from that it seems okay, the amenities are clean
and well maintained with soap provided. The staff are friendly enough.
We didn't move ourselves until the afternoon when we visited the information
centre. It was a very good centre and the staff were very helpful. On leaving
there we rushed off to Wentworth to look at where the Murray and the Darling
Rivers meet. We climbed a lookout and were dismayed at all the sludge that
was about indicating very little flow in the rivers. From there we walked
a short walk through some bush to view the Number 10 Lock. We couldn't see
much from the viewing point so we retreated back to the car and drove around
to it. It was interesting but I found watching the pelicans have a good
feed more so. We then went home for some dinner. In the evening Dawn and
Phil came over.
Dawn and Phil collected us at lunchtime and we went to a very nice tavern
for lunch. They then took us on a tour of the area - we seemed to go everywhere.
We saw a huge tractor thing called Big Lizzie and Lindemans Winery which
is the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere. We visited so many places that
it was a very full and enjoyable afternoon. We went to Phil and Dawn's local
club for a drink before they took us home to their place for another beautiful
dinner. After dinner Phil drove us around the vineyards in the dark, in
search of a mechanical grape picker working in a vineyard. We drove around
for a while but in the end Phil gave up as he couldn't find one working
close to the road. We had a really lovely but tiring day so I think tomorrow
might just be a lay day.
Yep, today was a lay day.
We went for a walk along the river in the morning. It was a pleasant walk
but dusty. We saw a man fishing and he actually caught one! Heaps of times
we have watched people fishing but never seen one caught before. After lunch
we went to a museum in town. It was an Aladdin's cave of memorabilia directly
connected to Mildura. It was privately owned and the lady showed us through.
I enjoyed it more than Pete Mate as she had over a 1,000 dolls. I guess
that counts as a pink credit. Later in the day Dawn and Phil came over for
Happy Hour and then we all went to their club for dinner. It was a very
We were up early to pack everything away, ready to leave tomorrow. We were
then collected by Dawn and Phil and driven out to their friends' houseboat.
What a day! We had a wonderful time, John took us along the river at a sedate
pace whilst Dawn took over Mel's kitchen and prepared heaps of yummy food.
We seemed to drink and eat from the moment we got on the boat until we got
off. Phil's sister and her husband joined us in the evening for dinner.
It was an excellent day.
||Skipper John and First Mate Phil taking us up the Murray
We set off fairly early and had a good run through to Renmark. We arrived
around lunchtime but gained and extra half hour as we are now in yet a
different time zone. We unpacked, set up camp, had lunch, a nana-nap and
then our friends Gavin and Jo arrived to say hello. We had a drink together
and then got ready to go over to their house for dinner. We met some other
friends of theirs and had a really enjoyable evening. What laughs we had
at the different stories told but alas I cannot retell them as there was
a house rule we couldn't take them away from the table. It was a very
enjoyable evening with good food and wine but most importantly, good company.
It suddenly occurred to me last night that I hadn't driven Billy since
we were in Cairns in September so I decided that I had better remedy that
at once; you never know when my driving skills will be needed. Are you
listening, Pete Mate? So off we went to Woolworths for some fruit and
vegies with me driving. (We weren't allowed to bring fruit or vegetables
into South Australia from Victoria due to the danger of transferring fruit
fly and other nasty bugs). Pete Mate rode shotgun just in case he was
needed. Well, it must be like riding a bike (if you can ride a bike in
the first place) because I had no problems at all. With that little challenge
out of the way I was ready for bigger things.
In the afternoon we were collected by Jo and Gavin in their boat. Yes,
I went in a boat. Not a big liner or a ferry but a little pleasure type
boat. A pleasure it was too; I had a really good time. We cruised up and
down the river before stopping and disembarking for afternoon tea in the
bush. Then it was home again, right to the door. Getting out of the boat
in a dignified Mrs Bucket way was not possible, but at least I didn't
end up in the water as she did in one of the Keeping up Appearances
Pete Mate wanted to catch up with his emails and web site but we were
going for a walk later. Later never came and he seemed to stay in the
one spot all day until Jo and Gavin came for Happy Hour. I did the cleaning
and some washing, and then took Billy out for another run around to the
shops. I was pretty sure I knew the way but asked for Alice to be programmed
just in case. Well, I did know the way which was a good thing as Alice
didn't talk to me until I got there to tell me I was there!
(Alice serves one master. Ed.)
I returned home the way I had come but Alice wanted to take me another
way so there was a lot of "Off route - recalculating"
and me laughing because she probably thought Pete Mate was driving as
he does that to her all the time. Whilst in Woolworths I bumped into a
couple we met in Tamworth, it's a small world indeed. In the evening Gavin
and Joanne came over for Happy Hour. I set the table and chairs up on
the river bank and it was beautiful, sitting there watching the sun go
down. We had such a good time, Happy Hour lasted for hours.
We went for a walk into town in the morning. We called in at the information
centre and found the young lady there very helpful. Before heading home
we called in at the Renmark Hotel for coffees which were as every bit
as good as Gloria Jean's.
In the afternoon we collected Joanne from home as she was to be our personal
tour guide. First on her list was Rushton's Rose Garden, Australia's largest
rose garden. It boasts 50,000 bushes with 4,000 varieties. Well, the poor
old roses had been hit hard by the drought and were not at their best.
The pathways were very dry and dusty. Jo and I walked amongst the roses
whilst Pete Mate viewed a collection of vintage cars owned by the garden's
proprietor and displayed in an area adjoining the coffee shop. Sorry,
Pete Mate, this does not count as 'pink' time as you had the cars. Once
Jo and I had seen enough roses we wandered back to the coffee shop where
P.M. was still drooling over the cars. We all enjoyed a very nice coffee
before we headed off to Olivewood House.
Olivewood House was built in 1889 for one of the Chaffey Brothers. (Chaffey
is pronounced Chay-fee.) The Chaffey's were Canadian and had
been invited by Arthur Deakin, a Victorian politician, to investigate
the possibility of establishing an irrigation system in what is now known
as Mildura. The South Australia Premier of those times, a man called Downer,
also contracted them to work on the Renmark Irrigation Colony in Feb 1887.
This made Renmark the first irrigation colony in Australia. The house
was built in the Canadian log cabin style and is full of antiques and
lots of early Renmark history. As you might guess from its name, the house
had, in its day, a prosperous olive oil industry. Today it still has a
lot of olive trees and they still make their own olive oil, though no
longer on those premises. We viewed a lot of old photos of a major flood
in 1956. There is a sign at the caravan park showing the 1956 flood level.
The whole town was inundated.
It was now time to return our very kind tour guide to her home and for
us to go and get ready for Happy Hour. For Happy Hour tonight we were
joined by Jo and Gavin with two of their friends, Yvonne and Brian, whom
we had met on Saturday. We had a lovely evening despite Pete Mate and
I getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. So much for those flipping mosquito
We walked into town to do a few errands and then we found ourselves
at the Renmark Hotel drinking coffee yet again. In the evening we met
Jo and Gavin for dinner at the Renmark Hotel. We are becoming regulars.
It was a really lovely evening, the food was superb, the wine flowed and
the company was excellent.
||We didn't drink all that wine, honestly. The waiter kept
putting empties on our table.
I need a lay day; all this enjoying myself is wearing me out. Joanne came
over with some fresh peaches that Gavin had picked the day before. They
were delicious. We said our goodbyes which is always hard when you have
enjoyed people's company so much. I have got a little used to it now and
always tell myself I will see them again soon. Mind over matter. I used
this 'technique' when we were first in Australia as saying goodbye to family
was a nightmare. Apart from going to the shops, I did very little else.
Yes, it's a Leap Year. We went to the McCormick Centre today to learn about
how they are looking after the Murray River. Well that's what we thought
we were going to learn but in fact all we learnt was how many committees
they have formed to solve the water problem. Trouble is most committees
seem to meet to talk about 'mission statements' and such like so at the
end of the day nothing is done. The centre itself is used for educational
purposes which is good, but the very thing we went to see - an interactive
display which is computer generated - wasn't working. We were a little disappointed
but that happens sometimes. We went on to a lookout which just gave views
of vineyards and some morons had broken heaps of glass all over it. We decided
this was enough excitement for one day and went to fill up with diesel and