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15 - 22 September 2019


Sun 15 

 It was a bright sunny morning when we met at Rockdale Station at 6.45 am on Sunday 15th September

 We were all but one so I rang Lynnette on her mobile and got very sleepy answer as she was still in bed at home in Glebe

 Fortunately we had another pick up at Central Station so she was able to pack in record time and met us at Central in time for us to set off in good time which made our driver Serge very happy

 It was my first experience going out of the city over the Anzac Bridge and into the new West Connex Tunnel it was amazing to be going past Parramatta 20 min later

 It is a 700 Km drive to Cobar for our first night so it was important to get away to a good start as we had a long first haul

Cobar to Broken Hill Photos

 We stopped at Maccas in Mudgee at 11am for a Brunch then it was a Wee Stop in Narromine and another 2 1/2 hours to Cobar where we arrived at The Town & Country Motel just before 5 pm

 I watched the Eels beat the Broncos 58-0 at the local pub and then it was a 6pm dinner at the motel before an early night 


 Mon 16

 We had a good breakfast we were on the road by 8 am heading out on long straight roads and dry country to Broken Hill

 Our morning tea break at the Emmdale Roadhouse which is a pretty isolated spot with a Fuel and a small Cafe break.  They were rushed off their feet by the bus load of Probarians but the coffee was great

 It was 1.00 pm when we arrived in Broken Hill we were able to use the Information Centre for toilets and a quick lunch in their many cafes. 

 A few of us ducked across the street to the Willyama Arts Centre  which is free to enter they had some interesting displays including a Priscilla exhibition as the Broken Heel Festival had just finished last weekend

 After lunch we had a drive thru the Main Streets of the centre of Broken Hill with magnificent old buildings from 1900 -1930’s on every corner. The whole town of BH is Heritage Listed

 The first organised visit on our list was the Pro Hart Gallery it was the same building which was his home and it was certainly very much more organised than when we visited 40 years ago

 The 3 level atrium as you enter now has Kevin “Pro” Hart’s major works professionally displayed instead of being in stacks against the walls and stairs

 There is the original artists studio and a relaxing lounge area where videos of Pro Hart were enjoyed by all

Pro Hart Gallery photos

 I enjoyed the Sculptures in the park opposite the gallery

 Then it was on to the Hill Top Motel by 4pm where Lynton issued us the rooms & keys they were OK Lynton said dinner would be great which proved to be the case

 Dinner was at 6,30 pm in Betina’s Restaurant with 2 courses and enjoyed by all


 Tues 17

 We had an early start this morning for the School of the Air visit the early birds had to wait until the restaurant opened at 7.15am sharp

 The breakfast buffet was very well done I’m going to have to lose some Kg when I finished this trip with a week of Bacon & Eggs every day

 It was a short 5 min drive to the School of the Air we arrived in time for their 8.15am class for Kindergarten to Year 6 group but unfortunately the Satellite was down so we did not get to see or hear the students interacting with their teachers.  There was a video and the Teacher explained how the system is operated by the NSW Dept of Education being the same curriculum as the city kids to children in remote cattle & sheep stations all over an 800 sq km area

 It was founded in 1956 by RJ Heffron who was the Minister for Education I remember being 10 years old at Matraville Public School when he made a visit to my school

School of the Air photos

 From there we drove to the Joe Keenan Lookout for a view over the city and the huge Hill of Mine Tailings which towers over the main streets of BH. It was sunny but very windy so the photo op was short

 We had a morning tea break in the city centre then drove out to the BH Airport for our 11am visit to the Royal Flying Doctor Service Base for a guided tour

Broken Hill City Centre photos

 After a short video we were shown around the hangar space and the radio operations room before hitting the excellent museum for most of the guys and the souvenir shop for the ladies

Royal Flying Doctor Service Base photos

 Then it was back to Main St for lunch at our own expense I enjoyed a Mac’s Oven Pie and a cold beer in the Theatre Royal Hotel while The ladies enjoyed sandwiches and salads

 At 2 pm we were at Whites Mine & Art Museum for our afternoon visit this was very interesting to me as a retired Metallurgist. 

 Bushy White is a retired Underground Miner he gave us a tour of the Underground Mine which he has recreated. This is so tourists can safely get an idea of what the miners have to endure in dangerous underground mining conditions at BH for over 100 years

 I was very impressed with the  mine displays and he has created a new career as an Artist  by making “Paintings” using finely crushed local minerals to depict scenes from around BH.  For the ladies there was a big display of Antique Dolls & Teddy Bears as well as the souvenir shop

Whites Mine photos

 Then it was back to the Hill Top Motel for a rest or email catch up before 6.30pm dinner


 Wed 18

 Today we started at the Silver City Art Centre which is the home of “The Big Picture“  which has a Guinness Book of Records award for the World’s Largest Acrylic painting on canvas by one artist

 The painting took 9 Tonnes of Paint and is 100 M Long by 12 M high it is in a circular room where you walk in and feel like you are in the desert surrounding BH

 Lots of local artists with works for sale in the main gallery, a workshop making Silver Jewellery from Silver metal refined from the ores of BH plus a very nice display of Opals 

Silver City photos

 Since the gallery is in the city centre we had a couple of hours of free time in the city centre for coffee and lunch, Elizabeth set off for the shops in Argent St which is the main street while I set off on the Heritage Walk to take yet more photos

 Outside the city community centre was a display about Charles Raft who was the Boundary Rider whose horse kicked a shiny piece of mineral of what he thought was Tin Ore near a huge outcrop of Lead/Zinc/Silver ore which was then called the “Broken Hill “. The  Syndicate of Seven was formed by the manager and workers on Mt Gipps Station and their Bronze Busts stand  on pedestals in the park

 My next stop was the Railway & Historical Museum which is in the old Sulphide St Station which linked BH to Silverton and was not included in our tour. 

 No doubt in deference to the ladies but as a train buff I found it fascinating  with details of the 1915 Picnic Train Attack which was the first terrorist attack in Australia when 2 Afghans wilding a Turkish Flag ( Our enemy in WWI) fired on a train load of locals heading for Silverton for New Years day - 4 people died before the 2 attackers were killed by militia at White Rocks Reserve

 I loved the old Steam Engines and “The Silver City Comet” which was a  Diesel Motor Rail that used to run between BH and Parkes.  It was the first air conditioned diesel train in the British Empire and built in 1937 it was retired 52 years later in 1989

 To many exhibits to mention all but the Palais Fun Park with its Carousel was in great condition and the Triple Chance Mineral collection is world class

Railway Museum photos

 I met up with Elizabeth in Argent St we enjoyed a light lunch at the Democratic Club

BHP Founders photos

 At 2 pm we arrived at the Jack Absalom Gallery. Jack was one of the 5 “Brushmen of the Bush” which featured some years ago on ABC radio.

 Jack had recently passed but his wife was still running the gallery which had many lovely landscapes done by him and a very expensive Opal display which fascinated the ladies

Jack Absalom Museum photos

 From there the coach took us to the old Junction Mine which is situated on the North end of the “Line Of Load’ it is now the only place where you can see the original “Broken Hill”  ore outcropping as Charles Rasp would have seen it in 1883

 We had group photo and also had a great view over the North Mine which still operates 

Junction Mine photos

 Next was  a drink in the bar of the Palace Hotel which was the centre of activity during the Broken Heel Festival the paintings on the roof of the lounge area are well worth a look any time you are in BH

Palace Hotel photos

 We were all quite relaxed as we returned to the motel for another lovely dinner with good company


 Thurs 19

 After another great cooked breakfast before we set off on the 9 Mile Rd for the Living Desert and Broken Hill Sculptures.  This a fenced nature reserve to protect the native flora and fauna with a group of  Sandstone sculptures perched on a hill looking back to BH City about 12km out of town

 On April Fools day 1993  a group of 10 Sculptors began carving 53 Tonnes of Wilcannia Sandstone into a dozen sculptures ringing the crown of the hill surrounded by desert. 

 The result is an outdated group of Sculptures with “Under the Jaguar Sun“ and “Horse” the most striking

Sculptures photos

 From there we headed out to the old mining town of Silverton which is 25 Km from BH where we had a a couple of hours to look around the various galleries and museums before our lunch in the Silverton Hotel

 We did the optional Mad Max II museum which was shot in the desert around Silverton on the Mundi Mundi Plains. Lots of memorabilia and videos of the movie

 After a nice lunch in the pub we drove to the lookout at Mundi Mundi where the car chases for Mad Max II were filmed on the flat dry desert

Silverton photos

 Then it was back to the centre of BH and the bus took us to the top of the huge mountain of mined earth which towers over the city below.  Here there is a very moving Miners Memorial and Broken Earth Cafe

 The memorial is a huge Iron Structure with names of over 800 miners killed in the very dangerous underground mines over more that 100 years.  Vey moving with great views over the heritage listed city

Miners Memorial photos

 Our last stop in BH was the Trades Hall where the local unions still meet today and where they have an interesting museum on the the 1909 Miners strike which started on 1st January 1909. The unionists were locked out of the mines for over 2 years to 1911 after the strike had ended on 23rd May 1909

Trades Hall photos

 Our final dinner in Betina’s Restaurant at Hill Top Motel was great we all agreed that the meals certainly made up for the location which was a bit too far to walk to the CBD


 Fri 20 

 We set off  on our journey home with an early start as we had a 3 hour drive to the opal fields at White Cliffs. We stopped at Wilcannia for morning tea at 10.30am then we had a 93 Km drive to White Cliffs where we arrived at 12 Noon

 First we had a talk at the Red Earth Cafe and Gallery where Graham explained how Opals are formed millions of years ago in a dry lake bed.  He showed us some very rare “Opal Pineapples” which are only found at White Cliffs he has sold one at the Tucson Gem Show for over US$700,000

 Then it was on the bus to his mine tour where we were all kitted out with Hard Hats we were all able to walk down to the labyrinth of tunnels. This is where the Opal is formed about 25 m below the ancient lake bed. It was fascinating to see how he has adapted mining equipment so that he can work single handed digging out thousands of tonnes of red earth to get to the opals still remaining in the old Opal mining area which is covered with holes that make it look like a Moonscape

White Cliffs Opal Fields photos

 Everybody made it in and out of the mine we then enjoyed a lovely lunch provided for us in the cafe by his wife 

 We left just before 3pm it was another 3 hour trip into Cobar to the Town & Country Motel where we had stayed on to way out to BH

 Everybody was glad to have dinner and get into bed after a wonderful day


Sat 21 

 We had an early start and at 8 am we had a quick stop at the Fort Bourke Lookout which is on the outskirts of the Cobar town centre.   Here you can look down into an Open Cut Mine where they have been extraction Copper and Gold Ore.  At the bottom of the pit you can see the entrance Portal to the underground mine which is still working today 

 It should have been a quick 3 hour drive to Dubbo but at 9.30 am we were in a dust storm where Serge could barely see 50 metres in front of the coach.  We arrive in the small town of Hermidale where the Barrier Hwy was closed due to a fatal accident in the dust ahead so we had a 30 KM detour on country roads with very low visibility to get to Nyngan where we had a wee stop.

Cobar, Nyngan and Dubbo photos

 Serge did a great job of getting us safely to Dubbo where. We had a quick lunch at Macca’s then out to the Western Plains Zoo by 2 pm

 It is years since we have visited this zoo so it was great to see how it has developed into a first class tourist attraction

 We travelled around in the coach but it was great to have our driver Serge interested in photography so lots of photos of all the animals.  It was bit of a pity the light was not terrific with lots of dust still in the air at Dubbo

Western Plains Zoo photos

 Our accomodation was at the Cattleman’s Country Motor Inn which had nice rooms and a huge restaurant which served up another great meal.  I would recommend this motel to anyone staying in Dubbo as I left my computer in the room and the had it back to me safely and sound in 3 days


Sun 22

 We had a great group with everyone on the bus ahead of schedule times for the whole trip we were off again at 8 am

 The route back to Sydney went thru Bathurst we arrived for morning tea at 10.30 am just as their annual fun run was finishing where Serge normally parks his bus. The gardens in the central park were in full bloom and everyone managed to find the toilets and a coffee 

 A surprise for me was Serge taking the coach around the Mount Panorama race track only a couple of weeks before the Great Race the Bathurst 1000.  We got a great group photo at the top of the mountain just before The Esses. We did not do 300 KMH down Conrod Straight but it was an experience bring up high in the guides seat at the front on the coach so lots more photos

Bathurst photos

 We had another quick lunch at Macca’s Blackheath  then it down the Blue Mountains in pretty light traffic for a Sunday afternoon we arrived at Central Station for a drop off at 3.30 pm

 Then we dropped Lynton at the airport for his flight back to Wentworth and we all made our way home from Rockdale Station after a very enjoyable trip with great company

 Looking forward to next year's adventure with Rockdale Probus


 John Paterson

Have a look at the Probus Club of Rockdale Facebook page to see just some of the many photos taken