We arrived at Penrose Park in Silverton after some great reviews from friends (thanks Tracey!), backed up by some Wikicamps users and the Camps 8 book. At only $25 per night for a powered site I’d planned to stay here for a few nights and trek into Broken Hill to look around or to Silverton.
We’d arrived around 4 o’clock and set up pretty quickly (we’ve got this part down pat for speed). While we were setting up we met KiwiBarb who set up next to us and started chatting – she was on her way from Perth to Brisbane to start a new life. Within five minutes of setting up a light rain started and before long it was absolutely pouring (I’m starting to wonder if the rain is following us?!).
There was a wedding being held that night in the Big Shed onsite and they raged all night with the music going until around 8am the next morning! Here I was thinking the Irish knew how to throw an all-night wedding, these guys left them for dead.
After a fairly sleepless night, KiwiBarb joined us for a drive into Silverton to check out the Mad Max Museum – a museum built by an Englishman and his wife so obsessed with the movie they moved here from England! There was a camera crew there filming a documentary, a deaf dog that liked cuddles and an owner obsessed with leopard print – Miss6 was in her element! She managed to flash a few smiles for the camera crew (signed a permission form with hopes of seeing the kids in the three-part doco sometime in November), cuddle the blue heeler and even scammed a new leopard print handbag and hair clip from the owner who fell for her charm.
After lunch we headed into Broken Hill to see the Silver City Mint (though I couldn’t justify paying $20 to see the world’s largest canvas painting – no matter how good it was!) and some milkshakes at the very retro Bells Milk Bar.
Back to Silverton to grab the camp chairs before driving out to Mundi Mundi lookout to watch the sunset. There were a group of older couples with the right idea – table, chairs, wine cheese and the most gorgeous sunset and views looking out over the outback. It seems to stretch for miles with nothing interrupting the views.
We farewelled KiwiBarb the next day before heading back into Broken Hill for a jam-packed day of sight-seeing taking in the highest view in town – Line of Lode Miners Memorial, Browne’s Mine lookout, ‘Bushy’s mining museum including his artworks made of minerals and his wife’s massive collection of dolls and teddy bears (impressive and disturbing all at the same time), the airport to check out the Royal Flying Doctor Service and museum, Pro Hart Gallery (only $5 to check out his artworks!) and then out to the Living Desert.
We decided to park the car at the bottom of the hill and take a 1.2km bushwalk up to the Living Desert and sculptures in time for sunset. I hope none of the other tourists up there were looking for some peace and quiet at sunset! Miss6 really loved the sculptures and kept yelling out ‘Mummy look at this one!’ while Master14 took the opportunity to add to his photography portfolio.
I can understand why there are so many artists inspired by this part of the world – the views and colours of the desert are just spectacular. It’s like getting that 72 pack of Derwents for Christmas looking at all those shades of gorgeous colours and not being able to wipe the smile off your face.
We were going to leave the next day but decided to stay a fourth night so we could look at Silverton a little more and take a tour of the Daydream Mine between where we were staying and Broken Hill.
The mine tour was great fun – the kids really enjoyed it and Miss6 surprised me, I thought she’d get clingy in the dark underground but instead she was tearing ahead asking if we could go further underground into the mine! No fear this kid – and so fashionable for the mine in her purple skirt and leopard print puffy vest!
I thought I’d do some washing before we left for our next destination so after hanging out the washing I wondered over to see what the kids had been up to while they waited for me. They were checking out the numerous animals at Penrose Park and were making Jack the cockatoo dance for them – I thought I’d be nice and donate some coins to help feed the animals. After putting money in the tin in his cage the kids encouraged me to give him a little pat – the sign clearly said ‘this bird bites’ but he looked at me with his little blue eyes and bowed his head encouragingly to get me to scratch the top of his head. I was sucked right in so I put my little finger in for a scratch and after a moment he shot his head up and latched that beak of his so fiercely into my little finger I think I gave him a few new choice words to add to his vocabulary!
The kids helped me loose and ran for some tissues to help hold the blood – as I’d driven with the laundry down from camp I had to drive us back to the van with blood pissing out of my finger trying to hold a tissue over the wound, hold my hand above my heart and drive manual – even I was impressed with my driving!
Caleb helped grab the first aid kit and go through it for some bandages (it was at this point I realised the kit didn’t include steri-strips or butterfly band aids (now on the ‘to buy’ list) and to grab the teatree oil to help clean the wound. Letting out a very loud “FARK!!” when I applied the tea tree Miss6 burst into tears thinking it was all her fault for encouraging me to pat the bird. She may be a bundle of attitude, humour and a bit of crazy but she sure has the sensitive empathetic soul that Master14 and I have.
Determined not to let a bit of blood, pain and swelling get in the way of our adventures I loaded the kids into the car and we headed into Silverton to check out the od Gaol Museum and then to the pub for an overpriced (delicious) lunch and a well-deserved pot of beer.
It was a pretty windy and warm afternoon so we decided to check out the old cemetery on the way back to camp and found the Silverton Photography Gallery by mistake on the way back. Helen Murray not only takes a beautiful photograph but she was an absolute delight showing us around her gardens and showing the kids her horses and dog ‘bandit’ who of course, took a liking to Miss6.
We ended up staying there for ages chatting, taking photos of Helen’s collection of old mining, farming and other memorabilia throughout the garden. By the time we got back to camp it was late afternoon and all I could think about was relaxing before making a start on dinner and some of the pack up before we left the following day.
In the tradition of packing up ‘kickarse mum style’ – we returned to camp to find that the wind had taken our little 3×3 marquee and blown it halfway across the sand completely destroying one of the legs and it had blown Master14’s bed so hard that the little plastic bracket holding the bar over his canvas had snapped off leaving his bed collapsed!
Some minor cursing and make-do repairs later, we managed to pack up the marquee (minus one leg) and I removed the bracket from Master14’s bed, made good use of the liquid nails and put all three of us into the other bed for the night while the glue dried.
As a fellow camping mum pointed out to me, at least with everything breaking on our trip so far, I’ve been able to fix or patch up most of it on my own with the aid of liquid nails, gaffa tape, ocky straps and some well-placed F-bombs. So much for Murphy being a home-body – here’s hoping he doesn’t make it past the quarantine line!
Another late set off the next day as our pack-up routine (who am I kidding – we’ve really only mastered the set up routine – packing up is nothing but a distant goal for us at the moment). Needless to say, during the pack up phase the cask of wine was moved in the cupboards so that now all I need to do is open the door and pour – no more pulling it out of the cupboard to put on the bench and pour!