Broken Hill & Flinders Ranges
Days on the Road – 10
KLMS Travelled – 2,502
Broken hill is a fascinating outback mining town -silver and zinc were discovered here back in the 1880’s and created decades of boom and bust cycles as people made and lost their fortunes. The conditions that the miners were made to work in were horrendous, hundreds lost their lives in accidents and so it’s no wonder that this became the birthplace of Trade Unions, created to fight the large mining corporations for better conditions. Through their endeavors they finally introduced a 40hour working week. We took a walk up to the Miners Memorial, which commemorates over 800 miners who have lost their lives here – the most recent only being in 2007. It’s a bleak view from the top, the years of mining have cut away the landscape – but it was this town that transformed Australia from being a sleepy outback country into a global mining powerhouse.
For all it’s ruggedness, Broken Hill still has a lot of charm – lots of old (for aus anyway!) buildings and mining artefacts to explore – so definitely worth a visit. From there we took a drive out of town and went to the Living Desert Sculptures – over 3 months, 7 guys lived up on the escarpment carving out beautiful sculptures in the sandstone.
We camped the night in Silverton – another tiny mining town just outside BH. Like so many places, the boom to bust cycle was so fast that by the time the towns had just started to establish themselves, they’d gone bust. The outback is full of ruined settlements that are less than a 100years old – something you just don’t see in the UK. Silverton is now best known for being the set of Mad Max 2 (amongst other films)- we had a mandatory beer in the pub there – the walls are filled with old movie memorabilia and photos of all the celebs that have been there. It really does feel very wild west out here and the wild roaming camels and emus also add to the feeling of remoteness – you have to wonder how anyone managed to live (continue to live) out here!!
From Silverton it was onto the Flinders Ranges – following advice from our friend Jason we took the back roads up to the mountains. It was a stunning drive – check out our tracker page for more details – and headed for Wilpena Pound. We posh camped in the ‘resort’ – which had nice facilities, but is full of annoying people and their big shiny caravans that are the size of houses – they put the satellite dish out, crack open a beer and put the telly on really loud – or in our neighbours case, still sit entranced watching ‘snow tv’ because the signal isn’t great!! I mean, what’s the point?? However, the ‘Pound’ is a great base for lots of walks through the Ranges. We were keen to get out and stretch our legs having been on the road solidly. We decided to head for St Marys Peak – 1120m – which is a fairly hard walk up to the summit – we were both still suffering the tail end of bad colds so the walk up wasn’t easy as it should have been. It took about 6hours and we were both completely buggered! But we made it and the views were well worth the slog! We’re realising now, that the overlanding lifestyle is already taking a toll on the fitness levels, which we’d been warned about, so i hope we keep managing to fit in time for walks/exercise. We would have loved to have spent more time here and camped further up into the park. It’s an absolutely stunning area, but our itinerary through Australia is a fairly short one for the amount we’re covering – so it was onwards the next day.
Sadly during the night, my family contacted me to tell me that my Grandma had passed away – such sad news to hear when you’re so far from home. However, i know that this is where she’d want me to be, as she was always someone who made the most of every opportunity and enjoyed everything she did. I’m sorry that i can’t be with the family to say our final goodbyes, but i know she’ll understand! After-all, in her strong Lincolnshire accent, she always said to me – ‘ Keep making the most of it duck, and keep enjoying life’.