Who remembers the days of real milk bars and real milkshakes – milkshakes made with malt and filled to the brim with real milk and dispensed in the traditional metal tumbler?
As a young lad growing up in Far North Queensland, FNQ to the initiated, I can remember my father taking me on a Saturday morning ritual to check the mail at the post office followed by a milkshake at our favourite milk bar.
I suspect Dad was never interested in what the mail brought, in fact I don’t ever recall him opening it, but boy did we savour those milkshakes.
So it was to my great surprise that I discovered Bell’s Milk Bar in our iconic Outback town of Broken Hill. Now I have written often about the rich history of “The Hill” and on sojourns to and from the Outback we always take the time to stop over, if only to stand on the western edge of this great town as the sun cast its last rays on a red ochre coloured landscape.
But somehow I had overlooked this gem that is caught in a 1950s time warp.
Needless to say I wasted no time in ordering a chocolate malted milk which I savoured with great pleasure as Janet and I wandered around looking at the memorabilia that has been collected over the years…
Plastic tables, plenty of chrome, even the old heavy black phones!
Without a doubt it is now on our must-do things when passing through “The Hill” in fact we’ve made a mental note to ensure it is the first thing we do as “The Landy” heads into town…
Crikey, I’d drive the 1,200-kilometres from Sydney any day to fill-up at Bell’s; to reminisce of days long-gone, of those moments with the “Old Man” in downtown Townsville drinking our liquid gold through a paper straw, the silence punctuated only be the slurping sounds of a quickly disappearing shake.
So take my tip and be sure to include Bell’s on the itinerary next time you are passing that way, you won’t be disappointed!
Photo Baz – The Landy
Broken Hill is one Australian destination that needs very little introduction. Growing from a small mining township in the 1880s it has developed into a large mining and tourism centre.
The town has been described as a living, breathing time-capsule with its many Art-Deco shop fronts from an era long-gone and many monuments that pay tribute to the men and women who forged an existence in the red-parched landscape making it what it is today.
Typical of many outback towns if you scratch a little beneath the surface it often reveals an underbelly that is interesting, unique, and important to the mosaic that makes up modern Australian history…
Many battles were fought at “The Hill” between miners and the management of the mining companies, but there was another battle that took place that laid a tragic mark on Australian history.
Many visitors to “The Hill” will be familiar with the caravan park on the town’s western boundary, and I have stayed at it on a number of occasions as we head to and from central Australia. However, many are unaware that within about half-a-kilometre of the park a significant event occurred on New Year’s Day 1915.
On this day the Great War visited Broken Hill when two camel drivers loyal to the Ottoman Empire opened fire with their rifles on a picnic train that was heading to Silverton, killing five men, women, and children.
The assailants were killed in a gun battle that went for a number of hours and this event is reported as being the only act of war to be committed on Australia soil.
A rail carriage similar to the one that was involved on this fateful day is positioned were the attack took place, little more than about a 15-minute walk from the caravan park.
So next time you visit Broken Hill be sure to scratch the surface a little, you’ll be sure to find something as precious as the metals they have mined there for well over a century.
Photo: Baz – The Landy