Across Australia on a Postie Bike…

One of the great things about being “Out & About” in this great country of ours is you never know what you might see next…

Recently I came across a great bunch of blokes riding their “Postie Bikes” halfway across Australia in support of a number of charities.

And no, they weren’t delivering the mail, but riding the bikes on our dusty outback roads was clearly thirsty work that could only be quenched with a cold beer at the end of the day’s touring…

Photo’s: Baz – the Landy

Baz – The Landy
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A golden experience, whispers from the past…

milparinka

Blue skies, the earthen coloured red soil of the Australian Outback, sunsets to dream of and three weeks in the Corner Country was an opportunity far too good to pass up.

So I didn’t..!

With my customised touring vehicle loaded with supplies and TVAN Firetail camper trailer in tow I headed to the far west corner of New South Wales – “The Corner Country”.

After two days and 1,300 kilometres of travel along bitumen and dirt roads I arrived at Milparinka, a ghost town just to the south of Tibooburra, the town that is often the hottest place in the state during our long summer months.

Now it would be easy to miss this gem of a town as you make your way north to Tibooburra, or south to Broken Hill along the Silver City Highway as it is off the main highway. But a detour to Milparinka, whose history is steeped in a gold discovery, is well worth the effort.

The Corner Country has been a favourite of Janet and mine for as long as we have been touring the Australian Outback. So when the opportunity came along to spend three weeks as resident Information Person and caretaker at the Milparinka Heritage and Tourism Association I jumped at it…

The area’s first recorded exposure to European’s was in 1845 when Captain Charles Sturt mounted his exploration of the interior expedition in search of an inland sea. He found anything but a vast ocean of water, but his journey into the region opened the way for pastoralists’ who began arriving from the 1860’s onwards.

The environment is harsh and unforgiving, even to this day, especially with an annual rainfall averaging less than 5 inches per year. The tenacity of Sturt, and perhaps those who have followed in his footsteps are best summed up by this note in his journal…

“I would rather that my bones had been left to bleach in the desert than have yielded an inch of ground I had gained at so much expense”…

 

Charles Sturt

It was near to the current township of Milparinka that a station hand, John Thompson, discovered a couple of nuggets of gold whilst herding sheep on Mt Poole Station in 1880.

This discovery led to a “gold rush” with hopeful miners and prospectors making an arduous journey over an unforgiving land. They had no idea of just how harsh this environment was, and that water and eventually provisions were in short supply. As was the case on Australia’s early goldfields, many perished from disease; some were successful, but most left with little more than the shirts on their back.

Often, those that were most successful were the business’s that thrived on supporting the miners, especially the “sly grog shops” and “pubs”. And it is worth noting, in 1882 water was in such scarce supply that a whiskey and water cost substantially more than a whiskey “straight-up” – such was the value of that most basic of precious commodities, water…!

The township of Milparinka was first surveyed in 1881 and finally chartered in 1883, but its population peaked around this time as the “gold rush” was short-lived. However, the town continued to support a core group of residents and there were many sand stone buildings constructed from stone quarried locally.

Amongst these was the Police Barracks built in 1884 and later; the James Barnett designed Courthouse in 1896. James Barnett, the Architect for the Colony of New South Wales, designed many buildings, including the magnificent Post Office that stands proudly in Sydney’s Martin Place today.

By the 1930’s the police administration and court functions had moved north to the township of Tibooburra, or “The Granites” as it was referred to at the time and many of the old buildings fell into disrepair, some crumbling back to the earth either through lack of maintenance or vandalism.

But a community initiative in the 1980’s halted the destruction of the Courthouse and surrounding buildings, but it wasn’t until 2003 that the Milparinka Heritage and Tourism Association brought them back to life and re-opened the Courthouse as the local Historical Centre.

The Association is actively looking to preserve the couple of remaining buildings that are in disrepair and in early 2018 purchased the old Post Office with a view to bringing it “back to life”.

milparinka post office

The one remaining business in town is the Albert Hotel, which has been closed at various times, but I’m pleased to say is once again serving cold beer and fine pub style meals to the passing tourists. Much the same as 130 years ago when George Blore built the pub…

Sitting on the verandah of the Albert Hotel, beer in hand, is a great way to spend time reflecting on the beauty of this ancient land, its landscape and people, as the sun casts a golden hue over the surrounding Grey Ranges making way for an inky black sky that promises to showcase the “Milky Way” in all its glory…

australian pubs

So next time you are heading along the Silver City Highway and see the signpost to Milparinka, be sure to take time out to visit this “glimpse of the past” if only to quench your thirst as early travellers did…

Who knows, you might even hear “whispers from the past” as you walk around the old buildings, the sounds of laughter from long ago drifting on the breeze…

I’m confident if you scratch the surface of this town that time forgot you’ll be rewarded with something more valuable than just a nugget of gold; an experience that is golden…

Photo’s: Baz – The Landy, Milparinka, Outback Australia…

Barry O'Malley
Baz – The Landy

 

Milparinka – Outback Australia…

There is something very special about the Corner Country that has kept Janet and me coming back for as long as we can remember.

 

Perhaps it is the wide-open plains where the sunburnt land meets a deep blue sky on a far-away horizon, perhaps it is the golden sunsets as the sun slides below the western skyline, or maybe it is just the people and characters you meet out there…

In late May I will be acting caretaker at the Milparinka historical precinct and museum.

Milparinka is a tiny community located in far north-western New South Wales, about 40-kilometres south of Tibooburra and 300-kilometres north of Broken Hill. It is the oldest proclaimed township in the Corner Country, and is situated on the banks of the Evelyn Creek, named by Charles Sturt during his 1845 Inland Expedition.

Hey, be sure to drop into the museum and say g’day, if you’re out that way…!

Oh, don’t worry, if you can’t make it I’ll be sure to be capturing some of our spectacular outback in photo’s…

Photos: Baz – The Landy, Corner Country, Outback Australia…

Barry O'Malley
Baz – The Landy

Tibooburra (Explorers’ Country)

Family Hotel, Tibooburra, Outback Australia

Our drive to Tibooburra was through some spectacular countryside, remote and vast, and we crossed through the “dog-proof” fence at Warri Gate, just to the north of the Sturt National Park.

Before arriving at the dog-fence we passed Epsilon Station a working organic cattle property set amongst the sand dunes of the Simpson Strzelecki Sand Dunes and not far from the country first explored by Captain Charles Sturt.

Numerous explorers’ have visited the Tibooburra region over the years, most notably Charles Sturt as he went in search of an inland sea.

And it has had its fair share of modern day visitors, including Clifton Pugh, a famous Australian artist, who actually painted a mural on the walls of he Family Hotel; in fact he even owned it at one time.

We are staying nearby to the hotel and will spend some time visiting the museum in town that has a wealth of information on Australia’s original inhabitants.

 

Photos: Baz, The Landy