We were the last ones to leave the Spring Hills Rest Area. The other travellers all got away between 8am and 8.30. We were still eating our breakfast!
There was lots of traffic coming towards us from the direction of Broken Hill, mostly cars with caravans. There were lots of wavers on this day. Do you wave to other RV’s? I do.
The countryside around was very flat with lots of scrubby short trees and clumps of saltbush. The big difference from the last time we came this way is the green grass everywhere. I can see why early settlers thought this would make great sheep country. When it’s green like that there’s plenty of feed for sheep. However it doesn’t always look like that and is usually much drier with a lot more red dirt showing.
We did see emus, a huge mob of kangaroos and goats along the way.
As you get closer to Broken Hill the land becomes hilly. Alongside the road you can see the main train line. I think it’s the same one that the Indian Pacific uses to cross from Sydney to Perth.
We arrived in Broken Hill late morning and headed directly to the top of the hill to visit the Line of Lode Miners Memorial. This is a memorial to all those who have died in the Broken Hill mines and makes for very sober reading. Some of them were so young and died horrendous deaths. Ben thought the one that was crushed by a Road Roller sounded the worst. He made very graphic noises of someone being squashed by a roller!!
The Restaurant at the top of the hill was still undergoing renovations as it was when we were last here. However we did get to see the Big Bench and the kids just had to climb it so I could get a photo. You do get a great view across the town from the top of the hill.
Back in the carpark we had a cuppa and while we were doing that a huge black GMC truck pulled in. Ben was fascinated by the big American truck and got chatting to the lady. The kids just had to have their photo taken in front of the mighty truck.
Our next stop was the Tourist Information Centre to pick up info on tours and opening times etc. The kids were a little disappointed that tours of the School of the Air have not restarted since Covid as they were looking forward to seeing how kids from remote properties go to school. Oh well. Another time for that one. We did learn that many places in Broken Hill are closed on a Monday so our choices were limited for the rest of the day.
By that time it was late enough that we could check in to our camp at the Broken Hill Racecourse. Rich and I have stayed there a couple of times previously and think it’s a great spot. It’s $35 per night for a powered site. If you are lucky you can get a site right up against the racetrack fence and in the mornings you can watch the horses training on the track. The water quality is very good and it’s a great spot to fill your tanks with good water.
We were allocated two sites next to each other against the fence so we were very happy with those. The kids all chipped in and helped set up camp and as we were to be there for 3 days we set up our awnings and got out all the chairs and tables etc. The boys set up their swags behind the van. We were loving having lovely green grass to camp on. One thing they do well there is to provide 20L drums full of water for people to tie their awnings to. You cannot bang pegs into the ground as they have underground sprinklers everywhere so they provide the drums. Very thoughtful.
There is a dump point and separate toilet and shower blocks. The park was very full with rigs of all shapes and sizes. Katie even found another New Age Bilby 15 similar to hers.
Katie got her car set up with the third row seat up for Ben to sit in. All 6 of us could now travel around together. We set off to drive out to the airport to visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service Visitors Centre and Museum.
We arrived in time to catch a tour that was just starting and we joined in. Our guide Andrew started the tour with a 10 minute video on the RFDS then we were led into the museum where Andrew spoke about the history of the RFDS and it’s importance to outback communities. I learnt the the Broken Hill facility is the one where all the planes are brought to to be repaired or serviced.
Andrew led us out past the communications room where we observed the phones being manned for incoming emergency calls then we were led out into the hangar. Out there Andrew explained the different planes that the service uses and then we were lucky to have a special treat. One plane came in and landed bringing back doctors and other health professionals from a day out at a clinic. Then an ambulance arrived with a patient to be transported to an Adelaide hospital. The patient was transferred onto a different plane and we could watch it take off. Andrew explained that it is rare for one plane to come in and another to take off so close together so we were very lucky to see that.
I really liked the way Andrew included the children in his discussions and they all seemed to really enjoy the tour. I think they especially liked learning about the $20 note and how it shows all things to do with the RFDS. At the end of the tour the kids were given a copy of a $20 note and a set of worksheets for them to complete. Great home learning! They might be missing out on some school but they are already leaning so much and we are only on day 3!
Back at camp it was my turn to cook and we all enjoyed our spaghetti bolognese sitting outside under our awnings. We have an early start as we have booked to do an underground mine tour at 10am and we have to be there by 9.30am. It’s about a 45 minute drive out on the Silverton Road to get to the Day Dream Mine. Afterwards we will visit Silverton. The new Mad Max movie is currently being filmed around Silverton so we might see some of the film crew at work.
Funny story. While we were sitting outside I asked the children what the time was. We got different answers depending on what device and whether it was a connected one. That’s funny! Why are they different? We were now on South Australian time and had to set our watches back half an hour! The children thought that was very interesting.