And now we are four!

Our friends Jenny and Andy left this morning. They will be meandering towards their home over the next five or six days. It was sad to see them go. Silly me forgot to take a photo of our motorhome parked up between the two Zone Caravans. It’s not very often you see Zone’s let alone having one camped on either side.

It was really cold outside with a brisk breeze blowing. As we were saying our goodbyes a racehorse thundered by on the dirt track behind our camp. We are parked at the Racecourse!

As I was typing up my blog a lady with two small fluffy white dogs on leads came by and was checking out my clothesline. I went out to see if she had any questions and she was intrigued by our clothesline and wondered if she could fit one on her fifth wheeler. I explained that I’d ordered it online from Versaline and I suspect she might get one herself. I think Versaline should be paying me commission for the number of clothesline’s I’ve sold over the years!

Our camp at the Broken Hill Racecourse is a good one. We are on a powered site, on a large grassy area in front of the main grandstand. There is room for a lot of RV’s. Unpowered sites are also available. There is an amenities block and the showers are spotless. I have had a couple of showers there as the water pressure from the tap to our motorhome shower is not great but it is amazing at the shower block.

The four of us set off in Robert’s car to explore the town of Broken Hill further. Unfortunately there are still quite a few attractions that are still closed due to COVID or, if they are open, some things like mini theatres are closed.

Our first stop for the day was to the Broken Hill Geo Centre. This is an excellent little museum with fantastic displays of the all the different minerals found in this area and displays of the history of mining in Broken Hill.

I was awed by a huge 42kg silver nugget on display. There was a huge screen with a satellite map of Broken Hill and it displayed all the streets that are named after a mineral. There’s Tin Street, Argent Street, Sulphide Street, Boron Street, Crystal Street and many more.

The highlight of this little museum has to be the Silver Tree. This incredible work of art was created in 1880 and is an 8.5kg tree made from pure silver. It was designed to be an epergne, or table centrepiece and is also known as ‘The Boundary Rider’. Originally the branches would have supported a cut crystal bowl.

It was made by an Adelaide jeweller for display at the Royal Melbourne Colonial Exhibition in 1880. It was also displayed at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London in 1886.

In 1886 it was purchased by Charles Rasp. Charles was a German immigrant who is credited as being ‘the Boundary Rider’ who discovered what he thought was tin. When Charles died his wife Agnes became the owner of the Silver Tree and it now belongs to the City of Broken Hill.

Charles Rasp and six others formed a syndicate and started the Broken Hill Mining Company. It was tough going at first but as silver, lead and a huge amount of zinc were extracted mining became serious business and the company was floated in 1885 and became BHP. BHP went on to become one of the worlds largest mining companies and producer of steel.

The rich ore body at Broken Hill is known as the Line of Lode and is one of the richest ore bodies in the world. Mining created fabulous wealth for the mine owners and their shareholders.

At the turn of the century 27,000 people lived and worked in Broken Hill and the town had 60 pubs. The lady that worked at the Geo Centre explained that Broken Hill is unlike other mining towns in Australia in that most of the mine workers are not Fly-in Fly-out. The workers live in the city with their families.

The Geo Centre (Albert Kirsten Mining & Minerals Museum) is housed in an old warehouse on the corner of Crystal and Bromide Streets. The building was in danger of falling down however it has been beautifully restored and now houses the museum. Out in the back garden is an original corrugated iron clad miners cottage, Unfortunately we couldn’t go inside however we had a good look around the outside and the collection of old household items.

Our next stop on our exploration was to the Silver City Art Centre & Mint. This amazing place houses the world’s largest painting on canvas. It is 100 metres long and 12 metres high and was painted by local artist Peter Anderson. The painting is truly quite astonishing. You enter the circular room along a covered walkway that leads to a circular area. The painting is all around you. Some 300 tonnes of red dirt, 10 tonne of rocks and local plants were brought in and placed on the floor to simulate the desert. Scattered around the desert are animals such as snakes, lizards, even a rabbit and a large eagle. I spied paddy melons and emu eggs, Sturt Desert Peas, snake skins, Aboriginal tools and grinding stones amongst the rocks and desert plants.

You cannot take in the whole painting at once as it is too big so you have to look at it a section at a time. It is so cleverly done and showcases landmarks within 300km of Broken Hill including the Flinders Ranges, Silverton, the Mundi Mundi Plains, the Living Sculptures, Broken Hill and the Line of Lode, Menindee Lakes and Mungo National Park. There is a storm in the distance with lightening and a dust storm in different area.

The painting took artist Peter ‘Ando’ Anderson over 2 years to paint and has to be seen to be believed.

The Silver City Art Centre & Mint is basically a huge shop with multiple rooms showcasing local art, jewellery, garden art, leatherwork and a collection of yummy goodies from the Broken Hill Chocolate Factory.

In one room you can watch a 45 minute video called ‘The Big Red’. It is a story of how Australia was formed and became the driest continent on earth. We all stopped to watch this and it was very good.

We all made purchases from this amazing place and recommend it to any tourist visiting Broken Hill. I challenge anyone to go in and come out without buying something!

Back in the car we travelled around the Line of Lode over to South Broken Hill to visit a Broken Hill icon. Bell’s Milk Bar has been serving up cordials and milkshakes to Broken Hill locals since 1892. It has been faithfully maintained in all its 1950’s glory for all to enjoy. Walking in the front door is to step back in time to the glory days of the milk bar. For a Gold Coin donation you can visit their little museum to the 1950’s and we all spied objects that our parents once owned something similar to the chairs and sofas, the laminex topped table, little side tables with ash trays, the huge cabinet televisions, the Sunbeam MixMaster, and much more. We all enjoyed a ham, cheese & tomato toastie and one of their delicious traditional milkshakes.

Back at camp we had drinks outside. It was freezing cold with a strong wind blowing. We just put on coats and beanies to keep warm. Catie went to chat to our new neighbours and invited them over to join us. What a lovely couple. Steve and Tracey are from WA but have been living and working in Bega on the NSW South Coast. The work contract finished and they set off in their brand new New Age Manta Ray caravan to travel and explore on their way home to WA. They’ve never caravanned before so had lots of newbie questions. They travel with their two cute little dogs that Robert calls ‘car washers’ as they are small and curly haired. Steve and Tracey sounded like they were having a lot of fun learning this new way of traveling.

It had been another great day exploring and meeting new people. These two things are what makes the RV lifestyle so appealing to us. We love exploring new places and finding out about the history, culture and sometimes oddities of a new place. Meeting new people who are also living the RV lifestyle is always interesting and can sometimes be challenging. I love how you can just ‘click’ with people you’ve only just met and all of a sudden you are friends.

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