Silverton is a small village north-west of Broken Hill. The town sprung up after two men drilling a well in the area hit a lode of silver in 1876.
The town’s population exploded, reaching a peak around 3,000 in the 1890’s. The discovery of an even richer silver-lead-zinc ore body in nearby Broken Hill led to a sudden decline in Silverton’s population, and by 1901 it was home to less than 300.
Today, it is inhabited by only a handful of people. Most of the buildings have now vanished, but there are some interesting buildings that remain, including the Silverton Hotel, the Silverton Gaol (which houses a museum, displaying a huge array of historic items), the Masonic Lodge, the Methodist Church, the Courthouse, the Municipal Chambers and others.
The Silverton Hotel has appeared in many films thanks to its desert surrounds, and the inside walls are covered with memorabilia. A replica car from Mad Max is parked outside. There are three art galleries, a cafe serving hot meals, a coin carvery , the historic cemetery, an Opal & Pioneer Museum and a camel farm offering rides.
There are still remains of the Silverton Tramway for railway enthusiasts and a short drive north of the main town is a lookout with an awe-inspiring view over the Mundi Mundi plains. Commonly referred to as looking out into the Never Never, it is a fantastic place to view the sunset.
Central standard time, 25km northwest of Broken Hill.
Check out Silverton’s website www.silverton.org.au for more information.
These lakes have the capacity to hold three and a half times more water than Sydney Harbour – being seven and a half times the area.
No wonder the town of Menindee, on the banks of the tree-lined Darling River is an oasis in the outback. The sunsets are gorgeous: artist and photographers take note.
Menindee sits amongst approximately 20 overflow lakes, part of the Menindee Water Storage Scheme. Willows shade the shoreline and the sky fills with the colour and noise of birds.
This is one of the finest freshwater fishing spots in NSW, with Murray Cod, Golden Perch, Silver Perch, European Carp, Crayfish and Catfish in abundant supply. (A lazy afternoon angling under a red gum could be your idea of heaven.)
The lakes and rivers are also great for water sports. Copi Hollow, an artifically constructed lake developed for speedboats, sailing, swimming and water-skiing.
Bring binoculars – the lakes and surrounding wetlands are an important breeding habitat for over 170 different bird species, among them many waterbirds – they’re keen on the fishing, too.
The dry sand-dunes around the lakes have given up some of the most prolific and consistently early remnants of human existence anywhere in the world – fossils and marked stones of the Barkindji people and their ancestors dating back 26,000 years!
Menindee was the first town on the Darling. Be sure to find the two historic trees – one marked by a survey team in 1882 and one in Yartla Street that marks the height of the 1890 floods.
Take a heritage walk past 19 historic sites to uncover a colourful past featuring local characters, Ah Chungs bakehouse and the Maiden Hotel.
The Menindee Lakes make a striking contrast to the desert that surrounds them, but now the desert is blooming with citrus, apple and stone fruit orchards, tomato and vegetable fields. With modern irrigation Menindee has rapidly developed a horticutural industry. A pipeline running from Menindee provides Broken Hill with regular supply of water.
Outside of town is the historic Burke and Wills Campsite, the Historic Woolshed, Kinchega National Park – and the wreck of the paddle-steamer Providence.
Accomodation, fuel, food.
Eastern standard time, 110km southeast of Broken Hill. www.menindeelakes.com
Once known as the Queen City of the West.
Situated on the banks of the Darling River, settled in the 1860s, Wilcannia became the transport hub for the regions pastoral industry from the 1880s – and the third largest inland port in Australia.
Several beautiful and architecturally impressive buildings made of local sandstone date from that boom era.Take the heritage walk or short drive around town for a glimpse of former glory.
Significant buildings and structures are the courthouse, the gaol, the school with its murals, the post office with its iron lacework, as well as the National Trust-listed centre-link bridge and old wharf that handled all that cargo so many years ago.
Eastern standard time, 199km southwest of Broken Hill.
Sign your name on the bar wall at Tilpas famous Royal Hotel, a real bush pub on the banks if the Darling River. A hundred years old and made of corrugated iron and timber, its full of outback character – and characters, too.
Tilpa itself was a busy river port in the era when bales of wool were transported by paddle-steamers, not road trains. There is good fishing – plenty of Murray cod – and boating on the Darling near Tilpa. The region has prolific birdlife and abundant wildlife, making it a fine destination for camping, bird-watching and bush-walking.
The town is surrounded by a huge sheep station and is close to several national parks. Nearby Kallara Station hosts visitors for an outback and river holiday.
A classic outback pastoral town – take the heritage trail to learn about a history of hard work and perseverance.
Battling through the tough times and the good, flood and crippling drought, Ivanhoe and other towns like it have earned their place in Australias annals.
Accomodation, licensed club and restaurant, hotel and cafes, post office and fuel.
200km east of Menindee.
White Cliffs was born through the discovery of opal in the 1890’s and is a pioneering town with genuine character.
To escape the summer heat, houses are built underground in mine shafts, where the temperature is a constant 23 degrees. The sun does have its uses – much of the town’s electrical power now comes from a massive solar generation plant. Fourteen parabolic multifaceted mirrors concentrate the heat of the sun.
Kangaroo shooters first found the fiery white crystal opals on the ground in 1889 and a year later the rush was on. By the turn of the century about 4000 people were digging and sifting for treasure, creating the lunar landscape that remains. There are more than 50,000 abandoned mineshafts, and the ground looks as if it is covered with anthills.
Take this opportunity to stay the night underground. It’s a fantastic unforgettable experience. Be sure to take the heritage trail and try your luck noodling for opal or potch. Visit Joc of Joc’s Place underground home and mine. Visit the photographic gallery, have a drink at the local hotel, have a go at the dirt golf course or just enjoy the unique atmosphere of White Cliffs. For further options you could combine a visit to Mutawintji or Paroo-Darling National Parks.
Above ground and below ground accommodation, bed and breakfast, motel, hotel, caravan park and camping sites.
Petrol and diesel, meals and refreshments, sealed airstrip and gas are all available.
The Romance of Opal
Shakespeare called opal the queen of gems. The Roman historian, Plinius wrote that opal had the fire of the carbuncle, the brilliant purple of the amethyst and the sea- green colour of the emerald, all shining together in incredible union.
The Romans considered opal a symbol of hope – a gem with a rainbow locked inside it. The Arabs loved opal, and believed the gemstone fell from heaven in flashes of lightning.
Opal is an October birthstone.
The famous French actress, Sarah Bernhardt, born in October, never considered herself well-dressed unless she was wearing opals.
The Science of Opal
The opal phenomenon is called play of colour. It is caused by the diffraction of light set up by the layers of silica spheres in its composition.
Milparinka has frequently been described as a ghost town, but following the restoration of the colonial public buildings of the Heritage Precinct, all that has changed.
The first proclaimed Albert Goldfields township, Milparinka is sited on the edge of Evelyn Creek, named by explorer Charles Sturt, which flows through Milparinka . For six months in 1845 Charles Sturt camped nearby on Preservation Creek. Later, in the 1870s, Mount Browne Goldfields miners camped alongside the waterhole on the Evelyn, a site which ultimately became the township in 1880.
At first this was a shanty town of several hundred souls huddled in huts and tents. But by the mid-1880s the town boasted a police station, newspaper, chemist, blacksmith, photographer, two butchers, four hotels, a school, a hospital and a general store. But by the mid-1920s the golden years were only a memory.
In the 21st century Milparinka has been brought to life with a Visitor Centre at the heart of an entire heritage precinct.
Milparinka Courthouse and Heritage Centre
A showcase of late 19th century architecture, the courthouse was designed by the famous architect, James Barnet, and constructed in 1896 from local sandstone. This is an imposing building with high timber ceilings and tall windows which looms imposingly upon the crest of a rise above Evelyn Creek.
Milparinka Police Barracks Visitor Centre
Beside the courthouse is the old sandstone police barracks, which once held offenders about to be charged. Today used as a Visitor Information Centre, friendly volunteers wait to provide local tourist advice.
Proto Resources Mining Interpretive Centre.
Two almost square cells of solid sandstone with heavy wooden doors are today used to house mining history displays and equipment. Interpretive panels provide a snapshot of life on the goldfields.
Pastoral History Shed
Between the hotel and the courthouse is a shed filled with artefacts and information about the areas pastoral industry. There are 47 station properties in the country around Milparinka.
Milparinka Historic Walking Trail
Follow a route around the old township, the public school, the Bakers House (post-office) , and a historic underground water tank.
Many pioneers lost their lives to typhoid and dysentery.
Harry Blore Memorial Park and the Variety Children’s Park
Take a break in the shade of shelters within two native park areas in the township.
The town’s one remaining hotel, first licensed in 1880, continues to operate for accommodation, meals and drinks.
Mount Browne Historic Township and Goldfields Pioneer Diggings (16 km southwest of Milparinka)
Visit the goldfields for a reminder of the difficult years of gold mining – and a chance to fossick for any that has been left behind. Private property.
Depot Glen, Sturts Cairn and Mount Poole (16 km northwest of Milparinka )
During their six month encampment at Depot Glen, members of Sturt’s expedition built a cairn at the top of Mount Poole whilst James Poole, Sturt’s second in command, died near Depot Glen and is buried adjacent to Preservation Creek. Private property.
The perfect place to discover what Outback Australia is all about. Tibooburra is a tiny community with an abundance of wildlife and wildflowers (in a good season). Discover the explorers’ history and the powerful desert scenery – it’s harsh, rugged and totally fascinating.
You’ll get a warm country welcome in this tiny, typical outback town. Not only the hottest town in NSW, it is also the most isolated, surrounded by harsh, rugged, open desert. After rain, the landscape is spectacularly transformed as desert plants green up and, in spring, the wildflowers bloom.
Tibooburra may mean heaps of rocks in the language of the local Aboriginal people, after the granite outcrops near town. These are spiritually significant sites. For 25,000 years the Wongkumara, Wadigali, and Malyangapa groups roamed through this area leaving scattered traces of middens, quarries, campsites, ceremonial sites, tool-production sites, and scarred trees throughout the area.
Tibooburra was originally known as The Granite or Granite Rush. The town was born after the discovery of gold at Mount Browne and then Tibooburra in 1881. That year nearly 1000 miners arrived in the town. Yields were disappointing. Lack of water was a cronic problem. Typhoid and dysentery took their toll, but the town, with its late Victorian streetscape, survived. By the end of the Depression era the richest seams had been mined.
The town’s main historic buildings, built of local stone, are the courthouse, and the two pubs, The Family Hotel (1882), famous for murals amd paintings by some of Australias most renowned artists, and the Tibooburra Hotel (1882), with its wall of old hats. Some Tibooburra homes are more than a century old.
Family Hotel Murals: A few decades ago some artists, fascinated by the desert, came to the town to paint. Any flat surface was fair game and there are still original works by Clifton Pugh, Russel Drysdale, and Rick Amor on the hotels walls.
Tibooburra Keeping Place: The main attraction: perched on poles, a replica sculpture of the 27-feet long whaleboat Charles Sturt hauled across inland Australia on a wagon, with the intention of using it to row around the continents inland sea (never found).
Tibooburra Outback School of the Air: The only dual mode school in Australia, where home-based students on the outlying properties actually interact with a real class of children. Turn up in the morning to see the school in action. Bookings essential, unavailable during school holidays.
Old Tibooburra Courthouse: Now a museum, housing artefacts from an 1884 homestead and mining relics. Check for opening hours.
‘Magnificent trees droop like willows to the waters edge with evening’s mildest radiance in their foliage, throwing a soft haze over the distance…’ Charles Sturt, 1844.
Wentworth is located at the junction of Australia’s two great rivers – the Murray and the Darling. Originally named Hawdon’s Ford, it was surveyed in 1858 and named Wentworth in 1859 after the Australian explorer, journalist and politician William Charles Wentworth.
Before the Darling River was opened up, Wentworth was the hub to which much of the woolclip was brought for shipment to either Echuca (for transport to Melbourne) or Morgan (for transport to Adelaide).
Due to the efforts of the early river explorers in the late 1850’s William Randell (Mary Ann) and Francis Cadell (Lady Augusta), the Darling River was opened-up for trade and Wentworth became the first river port of the Darling; although its early development can also be attributed to the river trade already being developed along the Murray.
By the late 1880’s Wentworth was Australia’s busiest inland port. In 1895, 485 vessels were recorded as passing through the Customs House (31 in one week alone).
Today, Wentworth is a large and prosperous township with lots for the traveller to see and experience and is an ideal base to explore some amazing sites in the area.
Wentworth is the first (or last) point of the Darling River Run and is not only a wonderful town to visit and provides great access to the Darling River (and the Discover Murray River Trail). The upstream section to Menindee is great for exploring. www.visitwentworth.com.au