NSW Country trip: August 13-17

Thursday August 13 – Cobar

After spending the night at a caravan park (needing the safety net of power for the fridge), we moved on this morning after everything worked fine on gas overnight. We set the van up at a free camp just outside town. This is a property between crops, where the owner allows people to come camping, and, from all the reviews, even drops off firewood. In true outback style, we are surrounded by gum trees, green crops, blue skies, and red soil – and all on our own….

The photo below shows our site.

Glenhope free campsite- near Cobar

We then headed into town to learn about its history, see the attractions around that, and enjoyed nature with a bit of a hike.

Cobar started as a mining town with the discovery of copper in the late 19th century. Prior to that the district’s main trade was from the Darling River.  It became a wealthy town with the surrounding areas all benefiting from the ‘Great Cobar’ mine.  This prosperity lasted until after WW1 when demand for copper fell, the mine closed, and with it, lost 90% of Cobar’s population.  The people of Cobar are known to be hard workers, and they bounced back, and mining started up again mid 20th century.

We stopped at the Bourke Fort Lookout over the New Cobar Mine, which operates every day of the year. It, together with the Peak Mine a bit further south, produces around 25k tonnes of copper, and 100k oz of gold a year.

Cobar Mine (still working)
Memorial in Cobar
Plaque in appreciation of the hard working Cobar people.
Plaque’s inscription

Hike around the Newey Reservoir
Along the Cobar Heritage walk

Friday 14 – Monday 17 August; Cobar – Broken Hill

We had hoped to do a hike at Mount Grenfell on our way west, but it was miserable weather, so we kept going.  We stopped at a free campsite just east of Wilcannia and moved on to Broken Hill where we arrived Saturday around lunchtime.

We had tried to book in to camp at the Racecourse after it was recommended however, they were full so we settled on the caravan park in town.  Not sorry, it’s a nice park with a big firepit for late afternoon social drinks and amazing brand new amenities. We have decided to stay here until Friday, as it was clear there is plenty to do and see in Broken Hill and surrounds.

Broken Hill is the outback town where the Australian mining company Broken Hill Propriety (largest mining company in the world in 2017) got started in the 1880s after a local immigrant George Rasp found what he thought to be tin, but once tested proved to be silver and zinc.  It became clear that the ground was rich with ore including lead, and the town grew bigger, as did the surrounding areas.  Broken Hill Mines eventually became the world’s largest ore producers. The miners were treated pretty miserably – some 800+ men died in the mines and today a lot of the historic evidence of these hard but booming times is on display by way of artefacts, art and the old buildings.  In 2015 all of Broken Hill was Heritage Listed, as various beautiful buildings had been demolished to make way for new (eg a multi-story garage…).

The miner’s memorial is very sobering and moving – all those killed showing their name, age, date and cause of death. Many younger men through accidents, many older (ie 40+ from lead poisening).

Miner’s memorial

We did a volunteer-guided town walk, and learnt a lot of the detailed history. 

We cycled around and visited Pro Hart’s art gallery, one of Australia’s most famous artists and who had far broader interests, skills and talents than just painting or sculpting.  He was mostly known to the average Australian for some peculiar but for him very lucrative carpet commercials back in the 80/90s.  Little did we know how talented and disciplined this man was.

Anyway, he was a Broken Hiller through and through, and very much part of the town fabric where a lot of his art is displayed.

We went to the Living Desert and saw sculptures at sunset.

Nhatji (Rainbow Serpent) 

We learnt that in 1915 (WWI) on New Year’s ‘Picnic’ day, when the town people would dress up and take the tram to enjoy this annual event, they were shot at by 2 immigrants who were Turkish sympathisers and various people were killed.  This resulted in a fury that ended in a 3 hour stand-off shoot-out between the 2 killers and the locals.


We took a trip to Silverton

which is now a tiny little town, but with plenty of history…. not least the place where Mad Max 2 was filmed back in 1981!

But apart from that major event, it was also an important town during the mining boom, and the place via which the ore was carted from Broken Hill to South Australia’s Cockburn on the state border.  NSW state had not bothered to build the rail past Broken Hill to the border, but now this newly mined ore needed to get to SA’s Port Pirie to be processed.  So a private company covered this gap, having to name this railway a ‘tramway’ and so the Silverton Tramway Company emerged.

Destination (Port Pirie in SA) of ore once it arrived at Cockburn on the ‘Tramway’

Another of Broken Hill’s original and well-known artists John Dynon has his gallery (see below picture) in Silverton.

The local gaol was interesting – small cells, hairdresser, hospital, general store, exercise area, and a whole of ‘stuff’, mostly memorabilia from that time…

Mundi Mundi lookout

The Silverton Hotel where we had lunch….

Silverton is also the place of the 200 MW Silverton Wind Farm Project, generating approximately 780,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of clean, renewable electricity each year and is the seventh-largest wind farm in Australia. The 58 turbines supply power to approximately 136,000 average Australian homes.

This post’s route

Click here for a map of our route so far this trip.

Interesting history of the states and territories – sit back, watch and learn!

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6 thoughts on “NSW Country trip: August 13-17

  1. Jen, je hebt het weer interessant verwoord.
    Ik was al heel benieuwd hoe de streek er daar uit zou zien en dat is nu duidelijk, mede door de fraaie foto’s van Arno er bij.
    Hoe is de temperatuur daar nou in Broken Hill?
    Groetjes Ton

    1. Hoi Tom, dank voor je reactie! Temperatuur hier in BH is tussen heerlijm (in ‘t zonnetje uit de wind) en koud als het waait. Max tussen 13-19 en min (‘snachts) zo’n 3-6 graden. Ook hebben we een beetje regen gehad gisteravond. Arno speelt momenteel golf en ik lees Pro Hart boek in de zon terwijl de was droogt… 🙂

  2. Wat een prachtige foto’s en interessante verhalen. Ton was al erg benieuwd en ik denk dat het de moeite en de reis door de outback meer dan waard is om dit te zien. Geniet ervan.
    Wij hebben nog steeds tropische temperaturen hier maar klagen niet. Liefs en goede reis verder xx

  3. Nog even een vraagje over de kaart : ik zie een lijn over de kaart van west naar oost terwijl jullie van Oost naar west moesten of zie ik het nu helemaal verkeerd?
    Ik zie als beginpunt Port Pirie maar lees er niks over of is dat het eindpunt en moet de beschrijving nog komen vanuit Broken Hill ??

    1. Hallo Annette – het kaartje is de route die de trein moest nemen, met als eindpunt Port Pirie in Zuid Australie. Er zat geen foto van onze route bij, die komt wel weer.xxx

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