Friday, April 23, 2010

It is a long trip to Broken Hill

As an outback town Broken Hill is reckoned to be not all that far away and from a South Australian perspective maybe it isn't, but from Sydney it is a long drive and for the organisers of the 2010 Outback and Beyond Conference is has also been a long 18 months or so. So here we all are ICOMITES and TICHS waiting for the Conference proper to start.

To get here I forsook the plane and the train for my car and the back roads of NSW. I decided on the route through Cowra, West Wyalong, Rankin Springs, Hillston and Ivanhoe. Leaving at 6:30 I got to Ivanhoe by 5:30. Ivanhoe was quite desolate so I decided to push on to Menindee some 200k by dirt. I stayed the night at the Menindee Caravan Park.

The landscape from West Wyalong onwards was essentially flat with the odd range of hills. We had been promised plagues of locusts and while swarms were not obvious there were enough locusts to force several window cleaning stops. The locusts are a sign of the good rains we’ve been having this year.

Another sign is the flooded Menindee Lakes refilling from Queensland flood waters from the Darling River.

Menindee has the lakes (a series of lakes with lunettes) and the Darling River. It was for a time the terminus of the standard gauge line from Broken Hill which reached Menindee in 1919. There it stayed until a lifting bridge (for the river boats) was completed and the line through to Dubbo and the rest of the NSW rail system was completed.

This is the bridge in question, shorn of its concrete weight that provided the counter balance to allow the bridge to open but also showing in the foreground the pump inlet – I think for the water pipe to Broken Hill.

After driving around Menindee i headed west towards Broken Hill. About half way Stephens Creek in encountered and after that the first sign of my destination – the Barrier Silver fields could be seen.

The blue line of the distant ranges. Therein lies the richest sliver lead zinc lode and 125 years of Australian mining history and of course heritage.

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