Tom & Matt’s Four-State Road Trip
Day 19 — Sunday, 14th August, 2011 — Hawker, SA, to Broken Hill, NSW

 

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Back to our home State

Yes, today is the shortest run of the whole Road Trip — just 430 km* or thereabouts — but it means we are definitely headed for home. Tonight we stay in Broken Hill; tomorrow night at the home of my brother, Collin, and his wife, Yvonne, in Nyngan; and, barring any unfortunate incidents, on Tuesday night we should each be sleeping in our own beds.

We set out this morning from Hawker and, because the only place we could find open in that little town on a Sunday morning was the petrol station, all we bought was milk (we had bought petrol yesterday). We drove on, hoping we would find something else open along the way as we needed a few supplies for our lunch.

* 430 km is a little less than 270 miles.

 

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This really is a beautiful part of the country, Again, the South Flinders Ranges are to be seen in every direction. The road in this picture looks relatively flat but mostly the countryside is gently undulating hills.

 

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This gives you a better idea, both of the countryside and of those Flinders Range hills in the background. As you can see, it was a glorious cloudless morning with stunning blue skies. We had a lot of cloud on Day 17 and Day 18, as photos opn those days will show. Yesterday afternoon we had just a spot or two of rain as we drove back from Wilpena Pound, but not enugh to turn on the wipers. This morning there was evidence that it had rained just a little during th night but today is perfect.

In fact, we STILL haven’t turned on our windscreen wipers since I left Woonona almost three weeks ago!

 

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Suddenly the glorious day was swallowed in fog! We saw it in the distance and initially thought it was smoke from hazard reduction burns (after all, we had seen so much of that in the Territory). As we got closer, it was clear that it covered a huge area and we began to doubt that it was smoke.

When finally we reached it, clearly it was fog and our speed was reduced considerably — not that we were worried as we had plenty of time to get to Broken Hill.

 

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Just as the fog began to lift (you can still see wisps of it in the sky in this picture) we came to the little town of Orroroo. We debated with each other as to how it should be pronounced and eventually settled on “Orror” (ie., ‘horror’ without the ‘h’) and then “roo”, as in ‘kangaroo’. If you know better than that, let me know.

We found it to be a pretty little town with clean tree-lined streets, impressive public buildings and this well-kept cenotaph in the main street. We found a few shops open and were able to get a needs for lunch, as well as a (slightly early) cup of coffee.

 

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Eventually our journey took us on to the Barrier Highway, the main road between Adelaide and Broken Hill. Beside it ran the main east-west railway line that crosses the country from Sydney to Perth and which is used by the famed Indian-Pacific train. We didn’t see it.

But, lo-and-behold, along came a goods train. Just one diesel loco and, if you look at the eighth item of rolling stock. . .

 

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. . . It is the right-most item in this shot, meaning that you can see the full length of the train.

There is always something interesting about trains. :-)

 

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By now we had left the Flinders Ranges far behind and the country had once again become very flat.

Usually, however, it was possible to see a little blue bump somewhere on the horizon and, all the way to Broken Hill, we were never in entirely flat country, the way we had been several times in the Northern Territory.

 

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Several times we have caught glimpses of emus but Matt, who was driving at the time, suddenly braked to a halt and cried out “Emus!

I grabbed my camera and snapped a couple of times as the mob began heading off away from us. This is the best of the shots. I am very happy with the results.

 

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Lunchtime found us in the tiny hamlet of Olary (make your own guess as to how to pronounce it), a mere blip on the map. But it does have a picnic area with tables and seats and quite good toilets.

The pub on the left seems to be the most significant building in town. You can see from the caravan on the right that, as usual, we shared the space with yet more grey nomads.

But what you see is almost all of what you get in this place. The only other feature we detected was to the right of this shot . . .

 

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. . . Olary Railway Station looks to me as if the trains no longer stop here and, even when they did, it was for as short a time as possible!

 

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Everywhere we went in the outback, there were crows. They gathered to pick over road kill. They caw to each other in the bushland settings. They seem always to be present.

This one was sitting on the top of an iron post (remnant of a telephone line) at Olary where we had lunch. Australian crows seem to me to bigger than similar birds I have seen in Scotland and are certainly bigger than the ravens at the Tower of London. This one, when he/she flew down to the ground after I had taken this photo, was at least as big as a domestic fowl. In looking at the link above, I learn that they are all related in the Corvidae family. I also learned that the family evolved initially in Australia!

 

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We reached the tiny town of Cockburn (I am told it is pronounced ‘Coe-burn’, though the Wikipedia article says otherwise) and, at its eastern edge, this sign welcoming us (back) to New South Wales. Curiously, the next sign (just beyond the trees) has an almost identical design and welcomed us to “Outback New South Wales”. Quite what the distinction is that requires two separate signs, I am not sure.

Note the clouds are gathering again, but we still have had no rain.

 

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And so on to Broken Hill, known as the “Silver City”, reflecting the fact that silver is one of the major minerals mined here, together with lead and zinc. It is very much a mining town and is so far west in New South Wales that it operates in the Central Australian time zone (nine and a half hours ahead of GMT), broadcasts South Australian news on its radio stations and follows South Australian football codes. As you may have gathered, it is closer to Adelaide than to Sydney.

We stayed at the Charles Raft Motel (pictured), named after the man he founded the town (now city) of Broken Hill. And yes, there actually was a hill (roughly in the centre of the city) which appeared to the explorer, Charles Sturt (not to be confused with John McDouall Stuart, previously mentioned in this blog), to be broken. That hill no longer exists as it has been mined out.

 

And so tomorrow we head for Nyngan — a more normal (for this Road Trip) distance of about 590 km*. Two more blog reports to go and we are already planning to list our favourites (and anti-favourites) in the last blog.

*590 km is about 365 miles.

 

 

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