Friday, July 13, 2007

Travelling North Day 6 Part B

Our mini bus driver was quite old and we quickly learned that that he knew everything about everything. He was part of the Broken Hill community and proud of the town. From training football teams (btw, no rugby in BH, AFL only) to local Progress Association to Historical Society, working in mines, tour bus driver, bringing up an Aboriginal orphan to politics that swung wildly from left to right but seldom in the middle. I expect he was even on the school Mother's Club. He raised his index finger to locals who he knew. He did not recognise them, only his finger did.

He drove us out into the industrial area while talking all the while about whatever. We then went out towards the airport past mining houses in South Broken Hill. At the airport we had a guided tour of the Royal Flying Doctor Service by a staff member. A salient question was asked by one person with us. Why don't the government fully fund the Flying Doctor Service? The reply was that they contribute a lot already but the service can still keep its independence. We don't want them telling us what planes we ought to have. I only had sketchy knowledge of the RFDS, so it was very educational for me. Did you know outback stations are supplied with a drugs cabinet and under instruction via radio, they can even use quite dangerous drugs. If you are traveller who has been injured or ill, you too are entitled to the use of the station's drugs cabinet. Yep, morphine was there.

We were then taken on to the site of BHP's first site office. Only a chimney remains and of course guess which tour bus driver saved it? We were told that the chimney was built by the grandfather of one of the members of the music group Crowded House. Finn brothers?

Then onto a lookout that was closed as some hoon had driven his car over the edge. Up to where we were this morning, Broken Earth on the mullock heap. We did not stay long but at least for just once, there was barely a breeze. Our driver was involved in the building of a project on the mullock heap. He wanted a building for a cafe and a place large enough to hold weddings but did not get his way. I think he may be right. It is the most stunning location in BH and I doubt anyone would hold a wedding reception anywhere else.

We then toured the flat lands where the Aborigines predominantly live, past government broadcasting/receiving dishes and the local mosque. On to the race track and golf course. I had wondered where the posh area of Broken Hill was and naturally, it was on the high part. I use the work posh for BH advisedly.

The tour concluded with a drive through the cemetery. Very good value for $35.

Talking of housing and gardens, the houses in BH are generally very plain. Many are made of corrugated iron with bits of house tacked on here and there. As there is not proper soil, there are not many house gardens. There was the odd place where an attempt had been made, but generally no one bothered. A friend who grew up in BH told me that his father used to buy soil so that he could have a lawn. Even public gardens and streets had little in the way of vegetation. I guess when the temperature is regularly near forty degrees and the air is dry during the summer, it would be quite hard to grow any sort of exotic plant. Although Mildura is much the same and it has very nice public and private gardens.


  1. Aboslutely great stuff Andrew. I have a book ehre that was a wonderful find in an Op shop. It is a book on the RFDS and its history. I would have loved to be a RFDS nurse. Maybe in another life?

  2. I think there might be a lot of down time Cazzie. And then many things happening at once...........ok, just like you normal job.