Published: March 11th 2007March 11th 2007
Mundi Mundi Lookout
A totally brilliant evening with some lovely BH locals at a remote lookout watchng a spectacular sunset, with pizza too!
Before I launch into my latest tirade about my trip, here is a really cool link to a bunch of photos of me and our beloved Sydney Gang, courtesy of Casey adding them to my new Facebook account! check it out. My eyes.... something in my eyes... sniff ;)
Good times - these are photos of us at Mardi Gras, having a sing song at the Opera House, and other random parties we created for ourselves from sticky-backed plastic and some pipe cleaners.
I arrived in Adelaide, South Australia state, about two hours ago after 8 hours on the Indian Pacific from Broken Hill. The trip was visually stunning, which is about right because my batteries ran out when I got on board so I have no photos. I am staying 2 nights at the Cannon St Backpackers, which at first look is a bit shit and stinks of bloody cigarette smoke. So I am trying to book my way out to Coober Pedy toute suite. Adelaide doesn't seem very pretty yet but I've not seen much of it yet so I will reserve judgement...
Well, the last couple of weeks has been a fortnight to
Me and Alex
At our private rave by the opera house, after too much goon. HANG TEN!!
remember forever. Let us start with the most recent jaunt, 3 days in Broken Hill. The Hill, as I'll now call it, is in the Far West of New South Wales state, or as they call it, Country NSW, near the corner of three states, NSW, NT, and SA. I took the fabled Indian Pacific train (part of the historic Ghan line that crosses the country), though no cabin just a normal seat in the prol cabin for me, taking 16 hours mostly in the night across the lonely outback at possibly a slower pace than most South West Trains usually crawl out of Waterloo. I ummed and ahhed (spellcheck on the colloquialisms?) about coming there for weeks because I didn't meet a single backpacker in my entire trip who had been or who was going, or who had heard of it, so I figured perhaps thats because its shit. But then I realised it must be because its some really cool not so touristy place which gives a taste of the 'real' Oz and just is harder to get to. In fact the Greyhound doesn't go there and that's probably why no one goes. But the Indian Pacific stops
My new favourite t shirt
My Aboriginal flag t shirt from Paddy's Markets, Sydney
there en route to Adelaide, and I needed to come to Adelaide to get to Coober, so I booked my ticket for the rather expensive price of $200 one way Sydney-Adelaide with a 3 day break in the Hill and I departed in the afternoon on 7th March.
The train is worth it to get you to the Hill and for the views, but as long distance journeys go it was the most uncomfortable yet; the seats, which big and with good recliners, were somehow just totally unsittable (and I can sleep anywhere so thats saying something), and I didnt know that pensioners use the Indian Pacific a lot because they get a good concession, so it was packed with mostly old people. Now its not PC to say it but I am a bit afraid of codgers and when they are snoring with their blackened lungs and arthritic throats or whatever, keeping me awake, well its no good. Plus the cabin was so well air conditioned I was too cold to relax. So I caught about half an hour's sleep in the dining car but was awoken by a jobsworthy guard for breaking the safety rules. Thank Christ
My Moomin Buddy
Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na, Pa Pa Pa Pa Pa Pa Pa Pa Pa
for my iPod is all I can say. But the views of the never ending outback, especially in the sunrise as we snaked across the endless plains, made it worthwhile, and to be fair the breakfast on board was good and cheap. But the division of the classes was alive and well on the train; us 'Red Kangaroo' level travellers were actually not permitted to walk into the sleeper cabin carriages so I never saw them.
Arriving at Broken Hill about 7am the next day I had a short walk in the already baking morning sun to my hotel (yes! HOTEL - not hostel), the very famous Mario's Palace, where Priscilla Queen of the Desert was filmed. I thought it was great; original 1970's sick-swirl carpets in red and orange, a mix of colonial and 1950's wood interior, a good old ozzie bar which was already open and serving, a pool hall, and the famous wall-to-wall murals painted by Mario himself. It was like, the epicentre of kitsch. It also lays claim to the state's longest verandah, and it is definitely long, and really lovely. I was stoked to find that I had a single room to myself, with
What do you put on your bread?
a telly, a sink, tea and coffee making facilities (me and bill bailey - the only peole on the earth who care about such things), a strong fan, and no bed bugs. After a few hours sleep I spent the rest of the day exploring by foot, which in this town is easy because is is a planned town with a Manhattan-style street organisation thingy, and all streets have names relating to mining, such as 'Oxide St' or 'Iodide St', with Argent St (Argent meaning silver in Latin) the main drag, if you will. The Hill is really a great place and I heartily reccommend anyone to make the effort to go there. The place itself is quite nice to look at; the main streets have plenty of 1050's shop and hotel fascias, all lovingly kept, mixed in with colonial buildings like the police station and the post office, and lots of wooden verandahs. There is a smatteing of greenery and the place is generally well kept and pleasant to stroll around. Backpackers don't have much in the way of local food stores for cooking, but then I didn't see any backpackers or hostels. I followed the pretty cool 'Larrikins'
I played guitar in front of people!!
pivotal moment folks... but you should hear Casey's power chords
trail which is an hour long walk around the centre following plaques marking out where well known characters and good ol' boys (and girls) used to live, work, or get drunk and start fights. I noticed how important women were to the town with its roots in a gritty mining outpost where me were men, and women were keeping it all together, not least when their menfolk were at war and then when mining started to declin in the face of international competition. On Saturday I took the tour of the original BHP mine (BHP meaning Broken Hill Proprietary, didn't know that BHP was started here), now named Delprats, which has been a tourist mine for 30 odd years but, as I found out, is closing to re open for actual mining shortly. I was very lucky to catxh the tour before it disappeared because it was great - as one of the tour guys said to me, 'you've ont seen Broken Hill until you've seen it from underground, cuz that's where it all began' - which is a truism of the highest order. As I showed up early one of the guys leading the tour, who was a volunteer
much props to my stateside amigas
every Saturday, took a shine to the pigtailed girl wandering round snapping pictures of random rocks and flies faces, and showed me some of the older and very dilapidated parts of the mine complex that are not actually on the tour - the change rooms, the engine room etc, and explained very interestingly how the whole thing worked. We then got dolled up in some very sexy grey overalls, a hat with a light, and a belt with a huge battery hanging off it,and descended in the tiny metal cage down 1200 feet into the mine, which has been continuously mined for ores for over 120 years now (in various sites. this one obviously had a 3 decade hiatus but has life in it yet due to the current price of zinc). As we walked through the mine our guide described in detail hoe life down there changed over the years, conditions improving with each new invention or machine invented to raise productivity. He was himself a miner which was great to hear from the horses' mouth. Then just as some of our group were getting weary from the lack of air and from the increase in technical terms being
a good girl
Breanna and her chauffeur
thrown out by the clearly passionate and nostalgic miner guide, the guide brought out the big guns and woke up us buy producing an absolute beast of a drill from round the corner, and without much warning, thrust it into the wall and started drilling away at high speed, producing possibly the loudest cacophony I've ever heard. We were all like, woah, not least the boys in the audence who wre all slavering over the sight of this mammoth tool going at the poor rock face,
There are more photos below