Monday, 3 July 2017

Whitecliffs, Broken Hill, Milparinka

Travelling further north, we came to Whitecliffs - a small opal mining community - and set up in the caravan park there for four days. While Peter was most interested in the mining of opal and a little fossicking, I was content to sit with a book or knitting when he joined a Mine tour one day.
Looking down at Whitecliffs
Red Earth Goldmine shop and tour

Pioneer children's cemetery

Whitecliffs has a constant changing population of campers who come - sometimes for several months in winter months - to fossick for opal in areas surrounding the settlement. There is a pub, a petrol station and a very small general store but not a lot else going for it. A 4 litre bottle of milk and a loaf of bread cost me a staggering $14.50, so I think the owners take advantage of the remoteness of the town to make a good profit.

One night we went to the local Sporting Club for their weekly 'roast dinner'. $20 each gave us a bowl of Pumpkin Soup, followed by either Chicken or Corned Silverside with white sauce, plus vegetables. Not really a roast dinner, but it certainly filled us up. Seated nearby was a roughly dressed man I took to be a truck driver however when he began speaking he had a soft South African accent. Hugh had been born there, went on to University and was now a Professor and lectured and advised on Arid Land Management. We had an interesting discussion about his birthplace and spoke of some of the places we had visited in Africa in 20..

Peter & Charley at the Line of Lode lookout
Leaving White Cliffs we drove to Broken Hill for a short stay. There we stocked up on groceries, did some washing and revisited some places we had seen on a prior visit. I love our old architecture and stopped to take some photos in the main street. Visited the Line of Lode lookout, drove past the delightful 1950s styled Bell's Milkbar and waved as we sailed passed artist Pro Hart's gallery and said a silent 'hello' when I glimpsed my Scottish grandmother's Lang family's (James Lang & Son) massive industrial lathe still on display at the Railway Museum.   (All of these were visited four years ago on a much longer visit to Broken Hill).

Argent Street, Broken Hill

Torpy's Store in Argent Street

Such an extravagant Trades Hall.
Leaving we drove along the Silver City Highway with a brief stop at Packsaddle whose roadhouse was one of the best we had seen - clean, tidy and welcoming.
Packsaddle Roadhouse dining room.
Onwards then, to our next stop which was to be a Stationstay (camping on an outback farming property).
The countryside near Theldarpa
It was Theldarpa Station and it took quite a few hours along some rough roads to get there. Unfortunately, when we phoned the owner, he was most apologetic saying he and his family were in Brisbane for a couple of weeks. However he did tell us where to set up, find power, water and showers and toilets in the Shearers' quarters. We enjoyed the wide open spaces there, but with no-one around, we only stayed one night and headed back along the long unmade road to Tibooburra stopping around midday for a good look around the historic own goldfields town of Milparinka - a remote and very dry area.
Milparinka's old Courthouse (left) and Police Station
The old Police Lock-up with original doors.

This was once the main town for the Albert goldfields from the 1880s to the early 1920s. I quote from the Albert Goldfields information sheet: "Most of those who rushed to the new fields of the Albert Gold District were ill prepared for the conditions. They started, with their picks and shovels and Miner's Right, on a journey of more than 300 kilometres into an area only recently explored, and described by [Explorer] Sturt as 'stoney, waterless waste'. Once there they set up their tents or built a hut, pegged their claim and set to work". Being so remote, "...miners ran out of food and were starving". Eventually a string of camels were loaded with food and provisions and sent. The cameleers were predominantly Afghani, and provided the settlement for many years. Interestingly most of the deaths were either due to scurvy (later Chinese grew vegetables in market gardens and so prevented many deaths), or, surprisingly, to drowning (flash flooding in some years). A really interesting place to visit and learn some of its history. Next stop Tibooburra (another town in the goldfield area).

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