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Published: September 5th 2014
The highlight of my visit to Broken Hill would have to be my visit to the Pro Hart Gallery. Perhaps until we stand face to face with the real thing it is impossible to actually appreciate the talent and genius of such an artist. I knew it was one of the places I wanted to see because I’d seen illustrations, or photos, of his works before. But not until I was standing actually looking at these works in the flesh and in detail did I have any idea how wonderful they are. The colours, the detail, the intricacies of the events and scenes he drew, the scope and … well, I’m lost for words actually. It was quite simply the highlight of my visit to Broken Hill.
As the literature said, Pro Hart saw people as having three faces … the face they showed at the pub, or at church, the face they showed to their mates, and the face they showed at home to the wife and kids. And his paintings give life to this so clearly.
And his paintings did more to tell me about life in Broken Hill than the many hours I spent exploring it
on foot and by vehicle. Broken Hill … a town dominated by mines, or the detritus of the mining process. Huge slag heaps that tower over the city in whichever direction you look … Old rusting derelict mine shaft towers and winder houses … this is the image I will take away with me of this place.
And the roads … OMG … up hill and down dale … “who’d have thought Broken Hill was so hilly” I said to Lou over the CB radio one day as we trawled the streets. “That’s why it’s called Broken Hill love” came back a swarmy male voice”. Oops, I said to Lou … plovers!!!! That’s our code word for other ears and voices on our channel!!!! But this one was educational I guess, so I thanked him effusively for filling me in.
But the roads are terrible … one had best not travel at more than 50 kph or you will get knocked out by hitting your head on the roof of the van as you fly over the bumps and humps.
The other image I will take away with me of this whole area is of a rural
and far flung outback NSW in decline, and doing it very tough. I find it sad to see what were obviously once vibrant, humming and lively high producing regional towns in such a state of dilapidation, depression and decay. Buildings, even those still housing modern everyday working Australians of this current generation, are falling apart, much in need of repair and a coat of paint. These towns are dying … in our modern world, they are dying. I wonder when Tony Abbott last toured through this part of his “Australia is open for business”. There is little thriving business out here.
Silverton, where once over 3000 people lived, laughed, worked, and died, is now a ghost town … well yes, I know, there is nothing here to take out of the ground anymore. But they are still pulling wealth out of the ground in Broken Hill, and believe me, much of that town has nothing to show for it. Buildings of grandeur are buildings of yesterday … and they are really nothing more than monuments to yesterday. Our current generation is not able to match the grandeur of the past or add substantially to what will stand as a
record of today for future generations. But enough of my serious philosophising.
Silverton did burst into life today while we were here … suddenly the road outside the pub was a hub activity as rally cars competing in the Classic Outback Trial from Parks to Renmark came bursting into town in clouds of red dust. Last night’s sunset from Mundi Mundi Lookout was not spectacular but well worth watching and photographing. What a horizon … see the curve of the earth as it spans before you for 180 degrees. And with recent rain out this way, there is a mild profusion of colour from a wide assortment of wild flowers that are delicate and beautiful.
We will leave Silverton tomorrow and plan to head North West of Broken Hill to Gibbs Station – the birthplace of BHP apparently since that is where the Syndicate of Seven (the 7 men who took out the first mining leases here and started BHP) were working as farm hands, roustabouts, cattlemen and the like when they found the silver that made them rich. It is apparently still a working outback station, so that should be fun. Provided the rain holds off, and
the roads stay open that is!!!! 9 kilometers of dirt between us and Gibbs Station from the Silver City Highway … there has been a bit of rain out this way, so not sure how much of the routes I had planned to travel from here will be open to us. Don’t like the look of that red dirt when it gets wet, and am not about to let Sally pretend she is a 4 wheel drive.
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