Australia has many outback towns that are full of charm, old buildings, magnificent pubs or watering-holes, and of course, just as many characters to fill them.
There are also some hidden gems to be found, if you scratch the surface deep enough and spend the time to fossick around, talk to the locals who might be just willing to point you in the right direction.
And you can bet there is always some healthy and good natured banter at the coming together of the city and country folk, especially if it is over a cold beer.
Broken Hill, a frontier town on the far western border of New South Wales, is one place that will need little introduction to most Australian’s. A town built on the back of silver and the hard toil of the men who worked the mines, and the women who supported them. It is the original home of the Big Australian, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, or BHP as it later became known, and the nearby area of Silverton was the site of the Mad Max Movies starring Mel Gibson…
It also has a great pub, The Silverton Hotel!
It was with great anticipation that we drove The Landy into town a couple of weeks ago as it was the staging post for our travels into Mutawintji National Park.
And speaking of characters, we were able to catch up with a local resident of The Hill, a man who oozed knowledge of the area and a passion for sharing it, over a cold beer of course!
Dave Beharre was aware of a love I have of Broken Hill and the Corner Country region. Contacting me ahead of our visit, Dave offered information on places that we might find of interest, knowledge collected from the many years spent as a tour guide operating out of Broken Hill.
TomO, an avid reader, was thrilled to be presented with some books on the area from Dave…
Such is the way of the people of Australia’s outback, a tough, no-nonsense people, embodied with a pioneering spirit and a heart of gold…
And talking about scratching the surface and finding a gem, we visited the Living Desert Reserve just outside of town and situated on a hill that provides majestic views over the harsh, but wonderfully beautiful countryside.
Country of the Wilyakkali People who traditionally occupied the lands around Broken Hill.
The Reserve is set on 2,400 hectares of land and has a number of walking trails that you can traverse. At its centre-piece, perched atop a hill, is a number of sculptures carved from sandstone rock, around 52 tonnes of it brought in from the MacCulloch Ranges, a range situated about 250 kilometres to the east of Broken Hill.
The sculptures were completed in 1993 by artists from around the world in collaboration with Australia’s first inhabitants, the aborigines.
The story of the bringing together of all these different people and cultures, sculpting by day and at night, dancing and singing by the glow of a warm fire under a sparkling outback sky, and in tongues native to their own lands, is one that portrays a spirit of human co-operation.
The sculptures include Nhatji – the Rainbow Serpent, Thomasina – the Water bird, the Bride, Motherhood, Moon Goddess, Tiwi Totems, and the Jaguar – Bajo El Sol Jaguar.
The latter, a creation of an Aztec Sculptor from Mexico.
Broken Hill is more than an Outback Town, it is a living beauty, touched by sunrises whose rays reach out to breathe life into the land, and of sunsets that redden the parched, dusty ground with a brilliance that is hard to define, but awe-inspiring as the sun slips below a far-off western horizon…
Above all else, “The Hill” is a town full of endearing people – they are the real gems that you will find there!
Photos: Baz, The Landy