Monday, 17 September 2012

On the Road to ... Wentworth,Broken Hill, Silverton & Menindee

Wentworth is situated in New South Wales, Australia, at the confluence of two great Australian rivers, the Murray and the Darling.

River Darling at Wentworth, NSW
The confluence of the Darling & Murray Rivers at Wentworth

Fotherby Park, Wentworth, NSW
Possum at Fotherby Park, Wentworth, NSW

Perry Sandhills, Wentworth

Perry Sandhills

Perry Sandhills, Wentworth

Perry Sandhills, Wentworth, New South Wales

Our stay in Wentworth was better than we had expected.  The weather was perfect and we saw some amazing natural beauty.  Apart from our trip out to Mungo, we also did a drive out to Perry Sandhills.  We had seen the signs to the sandhills and thought we would go and have a look as it was only 6 km out of town.  The drive out was not particularly interesting, just the same old scenery of low bushes, blue bush I think, but once we turned into the minor road to the sandhills we saw the bright red sandhills in front of us.  We parked the car and got out to get a closer look, but the wind soon got the better of us and we decided to just drive around the base to see as much as we could.  They were really interesting and if we had known it would have been good to come out there at sunset as I'm sure the colour would be magnificent, but we did get some good photos, and even found a lizard hiding among the bushes.  The drift patterns on the sandhills were fascinating and we did get some good photos.

We left Wentworth about 10 am but had a problem with the diff lock on the LandCruiser so had to find a mechanic to get the problem sorted.  Luckily we found 0ne who was very helpful and although he was extremely busy, he looked at the Landcruiser and after a bit of gentle persuasion got the diff lock unlocked and we were on the road again at about 11 am.  We headed to Broken Hill about 350 km north of Wentworth.

The drive from Wentworth to Broken Hill is mainly flat terrain with saltbush and low shrubs. It was a good road and we enjoyed the short drive and it was a really nice day.
We stopped at Popilta Lake for a lunch stop and to stretch our legs.  There were a few other vans there, all enjoying the nice sunny weather and it was good to see the lake which is one of the lakes fed by the Anabranch of the Darling River.
Lake Popiltah where we stopped for lunch

 We did see a few feral goats and also some road kill kangaroos.  We arrived at Broken Hill early afternoon and booked into Lake View Caravan Park, which is quite central to the main part of town.  After setting ourselves up we decided to have a quick drive around town and to visit the Information Centre to find out what we should see while in town.  I also needed to find a hairdresser, so had a walk up the street and the first salon was able to fit me in so about 1/2 an hour later I had a nice cut and blow dry and I felt much better for it. 

A bit of history about Broken Hill 

In 1844 the explorer Charles Sturt named the Barrier Range while sesarching for an inland sea. He named it Barrier Range because it was a barrier to his progress north.

Broken Hill was founded in 1883 by Charles Rasp.  He discovered what he thought was tin, but this was later found to be silver. 

The Kintore Shaft, Broken Hill, NSW

The Kintore Shaft was typical of early shafts at Broken Hill.

Broken Hill Town Hall

Broken Hill has many beautiful old buildings and we noticed that many had been restored.   The Town Hall was built in 1890.

"Ant" Sculpture in  the park  by famous Australian artist Pro Hart

Broken Hill Post Office

The Post Office was built in 1890-92 and is a beautiful building with a magnificent turret.

Broken Hill has many artists in residence and there are quite a few art galleries as well as museums.  We decided to visit the gallery of Jack Absalom whose paintings we have always admired.  He is one of the "Brushmen of the Bush" and when we arrived he was actually in the gallery, which is adjacent to his home, and we were thrilled to be able to meet him and have a chat.  He is a real gentleman and it was such a pleasure to talk to him about his paintings as well as his magnificent collection of opal which he personally mined and is the best collection in the Southern hemisphere.  He also signed a couple of prints that we purchased which was certainly unexpected and made our visit memorable.


Silverton is a small town about 25 km north west of Broken Hill.  Rich deposits of silver were found in Silverton but the large silver/lead/zinc deposits  in Broken Hill soon made the town a "ghost" town, but today there is a small permanent population and is mainly a tourist attraction.

The iconic Silverton Hotel

An interesting old cottage with an interesting sculpture

The Ticket Office from the old Railway line in Silverton
The drive out to Silverton is another fairly uninteresting drive, but we always try to make the most of our trips and look for highlights along the way. The old railway is no longer in use but the Ticket Box is still standing so we had a look around and took a few photos and I also found some different flowers there. 
The old Silverton Railway line which ceased operation in 1970

Some of the flowers around Silverton


This great little cafe was a real surprise to find in Silverton.  We enjoyed a very special Quondong Ice Cream which was particularly good on a hot afternoon.  The cafe also had a lovely collection of tea pots as well as other old wares.
Silverton is a great little place to have a look around, with lovely old stone buildings, some needing some TLC and others which have been lovingly restored.  There are also quite a few galleries to look at, it seems to be a mecca for artists.

St Carthage Catholic Church, Silverton

View of the Mundi Mundi plain from the Umberumberka Reservoir just out of Silverton

The Umberumberka Reservoir near Silverton

Mundi Mundi Plain


Menindee is a small town on the Darling River and was the first town to be established on the Darling River.  The weir on the Darling River diverts the water into a series of overflow lakes which regulates the flow for irrigation for South Australia. 
We hadn't planned on going out to the Menindee Lakes but as this was our last day before heading home, we were just going to relax around the town, but it did seem to be a waste of a day and we decided to see what the lake was like.  We have friends who had said it was worth a drive out, so I packed some lunch and drinks and we set off.

An Egret near the diversion weir

It was a really pleasant drive through similar countryside of blue bush  and dry grasses and it was quite a surprise to come to the lake and the first sight of it was amazing, with so many birds on the lake and people fishing from the weir.

Diversion Weir, Menindee, NSW

The Main Weir, River Darling, Menindee, NSW
The main Weir, River Darling, Menindee, NSW

Birds on the weir, Menindee, NSW



Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Mungo National Park

11th September 2012

Today we set off from Wentworth for Mungo National Park which lies mostly within the Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area. It is part of an ancient dry lake bed in south west New South Wales.During the last ice age, Lake Mungo was one of a chain of freshwater lakes strung along Willandra Creek.  These dry lake beds preserve the longest continual record of aboriginal life in Australia, dating from approximately 40,000 years ago to the present day.

We got up early as we knew we had a full day ahead of us as the Mungo National Park will be approximately a  400 km round trip.  I packed some lunch as there aren't  any shops to buy food and we aren't sure just what will be available in the park so we will be prepared with our food and drinks.

From the town of Wentworth to the Top Hut Road was a good bitumen road of a distance of about 90 km, and then we entered Top Hut Road which was a good dirt road for about 60 km to the entrance to the Mungo National Park.  We are not sure what to expect of the park itself, but the brochures we have seen have made us very interested to explore this area some more.
Top Hut Road to Mungo National Park


We arrived at the Interpretive Centre and were surprised to find a really modern building with a lot of information about the park and the aboriginal culture. The Interpretivc Centre had an outdoor area with beautiful native plants and a walkway up to a lookout and several walking tracks clearly marked.There were also shelters for picnics and an undercover bbq area. Just a short walk away was the shearing shed which had been preserved as well as an accommodation block.

Walls of China, Mungo National Park
Our first view of the Lunette

These little wildflowers are known as Poached Egg daisies

More wildflowers in Mungo NP


View from the Interpretive Centre to the Shearing Shed
An emu on the drive to the Walls of China

A lizard tries to hide

We decided to take the self drive tour to the Walls of China and from there we did a short walk on a boardwalk to a viewing area to take the photos of this amazing landscape.

From the first viewing area, we then drove to another viewing area near the Red Top Tank and after parking the car we walked to another viewing area, again with very easy access on a boardwalk.

The lake or tank known as Red Top Tank

 From here we were able to view the area at close range and it was amazing to see the natural beauty of the area, and to see just how remote this area is.
More views of  the lunette

The spectacular lunette (walls)
We drove back to The Interpretive Centre and had our lunch & walked to the shearing shed.

Outside The Interpretive Centre

Back at the Interpretive Centre we had another look around at the various sculptures.

The sheltered picnic areas at the Interpretive Centre

The Mungo Woolshed was constructed in 1869 of locally hand cut Cypress Pine, a termite resistant timber.
The shearing shed timbers

Inside the shearing shed

A little swallow in the roofing timbers

View from inside the shearing shed to the race
One of our grandaughters made these cut out dolls for us, so we took a photo of them having lunch with us at Mungo.  They are all smiling so I think they are enjoying their holiday!

We then set off back down the Top Hut Road and on to Pooncarie, an old port on the Darling River.  This town was huge in its hey day, but now there is not much in the town itself, but it was interesting to see where the riverboats would have loaded their supplies on the Darling River.

An unusual advertisement

The Daarling River at Pooncarie