This morning we thought we would go and have a look at the tourist centre thing overlooking the town. The building is perched precariously high on the top of the line of lode, and from the streets below it just looks like a building that slid off the back of a truck and landed hanging half off the edge of a big pile of gravel. As you travel around town it pops out from between buildings looking like it will only take the slightest tremor to slide it onto the train line below.
Once we got up there we were confronted with a completely unexpected thing. A giant, red, park bench. A nearby plaque explained that it was art so the boys sat down, trying to appreciate it, but we only ended up laughing at its sheer silliness.
Obviously when the artist envisaged this piece he never though of one thing. People actually using it. It’s a chair and all, surely he would have factored in that possibility.
No human could have possibly sat up there without first climbing up on the wobbly bricks some obliging, and more practical, person had piled up on one side.
After a few photos of the kids pulling the kinds of faces a giant red chair deserved we wandered inside. It seemed to consist only of a cafe and a small gift shop, the outside area leading to a miners memorial and other touristy things was shut due to the weather, the winds were pretty strong and we were up pretty high… but, still, annoying… The whole thing looked better from down below when there was the chance it might fall down..
Afterwards we thought we would look for something we had seen in one of the tourist brochures. There was still a remnant of the original BHP (Broken Hill Proprietory Company) building left in the town in the form of a stone chimney.It wasn’t very well signposted and in the tradition of all crappy tourist maps we pretty much had to guess where it might be. We found it easily but I really don’t think to many people bother to turn up the very short street at the side of the line of lode to see it.
It was just a chimney the same as all the other 1800’s stone chimneys we see on our travels but this time is wasn’t an anonymous pile out in the bush, or a picturesque ruin in someones garden. This was where the biggest mining company in the world began. Yep, BHP Billiton. Richest hole diggers in the world.
I think that anywhere else in the world the chimney would be surrounded by a museum extolling the virtues of the company, here in Broken Hill it is just an old chimney with the top broken and a corrugated iron roof keeping the worst of the weather off.
Once we left the chimney site we went looking for another old mine site, Browne’s shaft. Unlike most of the mine stuff in town that has been placed in a viewing area, this is a place that almost looks like the miners just walked off the job last year.
Right next door is the managers house, now a private residence. You look down the shaft and there is a big dark hole. The small cages the miners rode down to the levels are right there, above your head.
It gives the impression that it wouldn’t take much effort to get it all up and running again, and was by far the most interesting mine thing we had seen so far.
The man found a pile of old corings just lying in the spinifex and the kids ran around happily finding bits of old metal, pins and other interesting scrap just scattered around.
The saddest thing we saw today was these trucks on the side of the road as we were going up to the top of the line of lode. The plaque on the left reads;
To the memory of mullockers
Thomas Jordan aged 19
Leopold Campbell aged 21
Whose bodies remain beneath this spot in the A5 stope, 500 ft level, Central mine
as a result of a fall of rock at 3am 8th October 1902.
Dedicated 8th October 2002.