Author Topic: Western New South Wales via the "Road Less Travelled". 6c. Broken Hill .  (Read 1212 times)


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Despite Dylan's disapproval we all took off that afternoon for Silverton.  Prospectors began working in the area in 1867. They'd heard a tale of a gold find by a local station hand - unfortunately, his claim turned out to be a pretext for stealing a horse. Some years later, though, two men drilling a well on Thankaringa station to the south hit a lode of silver. Silverton's population was 250 by September 1883, double that by December and 1700 a year later, all living in slap-dash huts of iron and canvas.

Many of the diggers came from South Australia's copper mines, depleted by that time, but Silverton also had a reputation for harbouring various undesirables - horse stealers, cattle duffers and mining sharks. Silverton's high grade ore was quickly taken. With the boom in Broken Hill, many owners carted their homes to the Silver City and, by 1901, Silverton was home to only 286 people.

Now Silverton is a picturesque cluster of buildings, with a restored gaol, some art galleries and artist's studios and the celebrated Silverton Hotel, with it's desert backdrop, a replica of Mad Max's car in front and film memorabilia inside. Silverton is situated 25 kilometres north-west of Broken Hill. Access is via a sealed road. Once a thriving community of more than 3000, it is now a ghost town. For us it was unique!

and the main office of the now  tourist mine.

Dylan meanwhile, protesting about time away from his precious 'Skate Park', still made a good subject!

For the underground part of this visit, we all had to don helmets and mining lamps and sign a special register, before going underground.

How astonishingly difficult everything had been for the miners of old. The ore, and tailings were 'SOOO' heavy and had been lugged out, in the beginning, in 60 kg sacks. Difficult to believe in this day and age.

an interesting fact about the previous image, is that the mine props were made from Mallee timber, which had been totally clear felled for a radius of 150 kms around Broken Hill in order to make mine props as well as feed the furnes's for ore production. Now, only a treeless desert remains. Curtesy of the early mining ventures!

while Dylan's main interest, was in seeing if his phone worked underground!

Lida is holding a piece of the original Mallee Prop timber which now has the feel of a piece of granite. It was said to be the worlds strongest timber for this purpose.

Two of the original props still in use.

We continued down to the 3rd level, marveling at the labors of our predecessors.

and finally, back out again. It is said that 8 year old children had loaded the pre-drilled holes with explosives, tamped down the wicks, lit them, then, because of their small size, had been able (mostly!), to run from the mine before the explosive detonated!! Sounded appalling to me! 
Soon to the ghost town of Silverton, or, whats left of it.

and...the Pub!

I didn't know what this was here, but it looked good!

« Last Edit: June 01, 2008, 06:44:04 AM by rod1 »


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Thanks again for the wonderful series of images.  I can't help being struck by how hard life was (and is) for folks living in the outback, and places like it around the world.  And how indomitable the people were that chose to live there.  It takes images and narrative like this to remind us how well off we really are with all of our modern conveniences.