The Outback at 100 Km an Hour

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From the Spirit of Tasmania we drove to Castlemaine to take Blot for his pre trip check up.   He had a wonky rear spring but otherwise passed with flying colours
Silver City Highway

Whenever we mentioned the vast distances we intended to drive we were advised against it but we were totally psyched up for it and did indeed enjoy every day on the road.  On our second day out of Castlemaine we were here on the edge of the Outback and we couldn't have been more excited

                                               Blot raring to go at "Seven Trees" (count them) rest area.  Only 180 km to Broken Hill

We are taking these distances at 100km an hour, it's the official limit and at this speed Blot can go all day.   It's a comfortable speed for us and fuel consumption is good

 In the 7 hundred km we travelled this day we saw the same two vehicles in our rear view mirror for hours on end and two passed from the opposite direction  

Drivers  generally obey speed limits, I don't know how they enforce them out here but they must, no drivers anywhere are as compliant as these


Broken Hill

The legendary labour town on the edge of the edge of the Outback with surprisingly more art galleries (36) than pubs (24)

In 1844 whilst exploring an area he named the Barrier Ranges Charles Sturt noted the unique shape of a hill and referred to it as a "broken hill in his diary.  The 'broken hill' which gave the future town it's name was actually a number of hills that appeared to have a break in them.  Unfortunately that hill no longer exists, it was mined away.  The world's largest ore seam of silver, lead and zinc, known as The Line of Lode, was discovered 39 years later by boundary rider and prospector Charles Rasp

The Mullock heap which dominates the City.

Tiny Tony -'Big Bench'

The Line Of Lode Miners Memorial 2002.   Sits on the edge of the Mullock heap beside the Broken Earth Cafe and Restaurant

Between the two, the Australian flag is flanked by the red flag of blood and a black flag of death


 Dedicated to the  900 miners who lost their lives below ground since 1883,  if it feels damp and claustrophobic to you then the creators have succeeded in evoking the environment miners faced underground.  Inside is a wall with a rose beside the name of every fatally injured miner

The Junction Mine

Was leased and pegged in 1884 and began operating as the Junction Silver Mining Company in 1886.  This wooden head frame erected over Browne Shaft is the oldest that remains on Line of Lode

Mario's Palace Hotel

Was commissioned in 1889 as a coffee palace by the local Temperance Society.  As may have been expected in a mining town in its early boom times and producing 1/3rd of the world's silver, coffee did not cut it and the premises were quickly licensed and changed to The Palace Hotel.  Mario Celotto the owner decided what the ceiling above the staircase needed was its very own Venus, so he painted a copy of Botticelli's 'Birth of Venus' and the rest is Outback history

 Happy it's no longer the Coffee  Palace        

Staircase with the entire Venus but up side down

And here she is, I don't think Botticelli need worry

         But he might well be rolling in his grave

Flushed with success Mario offered 1000 pounds sterling to anyone who could match his painting in the blank area beside Venus.  Gordon Waye an indigenous artist took up the challenge.  He painted a wall in the bar to Mario's satisfaction and over the years painted all the other murals.  Most are landscape, with Mario stipulating they should depict a water feature as he wanted the hotel to be an oasis in the dessert of Outback NSW.   I noticed the ceiling is still blank beside the Venus, perhaps Gordon couldn't compete with Mario's masterpiece.  He died in February 2009

In 1994 the cast and crew of the movie 'The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert' came to town,  Many scenes were filmed in the hotel which the producer described as "drag queen heaven',  In the movie the decor is described as 'tack-o-rama',  maybe it is but they were darned lucky to have a ready made set available

Union Mailboxes Broken Hill Trades Hall.  The Trades Hall is well worth a visit

Broken Hill played a pivotal role in the trade union movement of Australia.  It was the scene of some of the most hard fought industrial disputes in 1892, 1909 and 1919.  The latter strike lasted from May 1919 until November 1920, involving thousands of miners and their families. 





 The Living Desert Reserve - Sculpture Symposium

In 1993 twelve sculptors were invited by the Broken Hill Council to work on Sundown Hill for 6 weeks, turning it into Sculpture Hill now the center piece to The Living Desert Reserve.  Known as the Sculpture Symposium, the camp on the hill had bush showers, toilets, kitchen and sleeping tents.  Beds and bedding were supplied by the Broken Hill Base Hospital

Prior to commencing the work the sculptors were taken to Mootwingee National Park 130 Km to the north-east to view 30,000 year old aboriginal rock carvings.  This visit and the various ethnic backgrounds of the sculptors influenced the completed works

No power tools were used and the stone was too hard for all but tungsten-tipped hand tools.  Over 2000 miners donated the tools.  The larger pieces of stone are anchored to the bedrock with 1,5 meter stainless steel pins.  A public appeal to the community provided the funds to extend the Symposium an extra week so the works could be completed

Nhatji  (Rainbow Serpent) Badger Bates




Badger, a Sites Officer with the National Parks Wildlife Service is widely regarded as one of the regions best bushmen.  During the Symposium, Badger felt a spiritual link with his ancestors who left magnificent stone carvings at Mutawintji National Park

This was his first attempt at sculpting stone, having previously established a national reputation in emu egg carving and lithographs

The work is dominated by rainbow serpents travelling north.  As the serpents always lived near water, a pool was carved between them.  The footprint is a duality, being both the god Gullawirr journeying from Broken Hill to Mutawintji and Fred Hollows stepping into the afterlife.  the hand stencils represent three generations of the Bates Family

Other symbols include two interlinked water holes with animal tracks as well as a sand goanna

Motherhood   Badri Salushia -Tiblisi Georgia

 Badri could not communicate with his family throughout the weeks of the symposium because of the war in Azerbijian and this sadness is reflected in his work

His classic sculpture is influence by the serenity he found on Sundown Hill.  He commented "The child is a portrait of my son and the fine details are left to your own interpretation"

Horse  Jumber Jikiya - Tiblisi Georgia

On first seeing the site  Jumber thought the natural stone arrangement so powerful that they could leave it alone and all go on holiday instead, happily for us they did not

His work is a tribute to the horse as Stalin had ordered all the magnificent Georgian horses slaughtered.   "People must be aware of the nobility of the horse"


Bajo El Sol Jaguar

Under The Jaguar Sun

My  favourite sculpture on the hill

By Antonio Navee Tirado an Aztec Indian who studied at the national School of Painting, Mexico City

Based on the music of Jarge Reyes

The artist explained:

"Use of the sun and moon depicts the duality of night and day. Night is represented by the Star of Venus.  The mouth of the jaguar takes the sun at night to protect it Day is represented by the circle created by the sun"

Moon Goddess   Conrad Clark - Katoomba Australia                           

Depicts "an aboriginal legend of a woman who steals the moon and places it in a Dilly Bag"

A Present For Fred Hollows in The Afterlife

 Lawrence Beck, Symposium Director  - Koolewond Australia

The 'Present for Fred' prompts the question , who was Fred Hollows, why is this Symposium dedicated to him and what does the sculpture signify? Lawrence said of his creation, "All matter is love, even hard Wilcannia sandstone, only Fred and I truly know what the sculpture is"

Professor Fred Hollows compassion for the aboriginals and in particular the large number of their children suffering from trachoma caused him to set up the Aboriginal Medical center in Redfern in 1971, he also founded the National Trachoma and Eye Health Programme and his Australian mobile clinics became legendary 

He also worked tirelessly in Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, Vietnam, Latin America and Eritrea.  Raising money to establish clinics and build factories to make the lenses needed to cure patients blinded by cataracts.  Twenty million people worldwide were blind because they had no access to lens implants 80% of those in the 3rd world

He died at age 63 in February 1993.  On April Fools Day Lawrence Beck and his band of artists began work on his Symposium.  Beck had a state funeral in Sydney followed by burial in Bourke where the "red dirt and mulgas signal the start of the Outback" he loved so much and whose people loved him in return

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