I knew very little about Broken Hill, other than being a remote mining town in far Western New South Wales about 14 hour drive from Sydney, AND I knew that it was the home of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and Mad Max II. If honest, the latter was the most compelling reason I’ve wanted to visit this place since the 80s. I love that movie!
So there’s me - your modern day Road Warrier; swapping out Mel Gibson’s 1973 V8 Interceptor from his brutal dystopian world where you loose a limbs over a tank of fuel, for a 2015 Mazda 3 with air-conditioning, cruise control, and endless hours of bluetoothed crime podcasts.
On the way out to the desert I passed through Orange, Dubbo, Cobar, Wilcannia, and finally Broken Hill a couple of days later. Along the way staying in remote pubs with character; meeting locals with even more character.
The landscape change is subtle, but beautiful…especially as you see both the sunrise and sunset golden hours… all during the same day’s driving. The roads start to become longer, straighter and littered with more kangaroo carcasses (I hit one roo, and narrowly missed a large emu). That’s the reality. It's a tough environment known best by the local indigenous population, rural farmers and road train drivers, but the red dirt, huge open space and remote quietness all around you is magnetising.
Broken Hill is way more than a simple mining town. Plenty of art galleries and restaurants. I stayed in the large old Palace Hotel where Pricilla was filmed; walls covered from top to bottom in local landscape murals, and legal Two-Up every Friday night! (the town has some sort of exemption from the rest of the country apparently?!). That was a fun night mixing with locals, miners, engineers, students and travellers.
30kms further takes you to Silverton. A movie-set perfect outback town of a few houses, dry riverbeds, old vehicle bones, donkeys and a pub…oh, and the Mad Max II museum..... all separated by dust and sand.
Mundi Mundi plains lie just over the hills; a huge expanse of open flat dessert; wide and far enough to see the curvature of the earth. This is where I was most excited to get the camera and drone out!
The journey home took me south through Mildura in Victoria and the large country town of Wagga Wagga back in NSW. I looked at the map when I got back to Sydney and remembered I had only travelled around a tiny corner of Australia's map. So much more to explore!
Special thanks to the Roth's who put me up in Orange on my first night!