A Travellerspoint blog

Port Augusta to Broken Hill

From South Australia to New South Wales

sunny 30 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Back to Oz on SteveJD's travel map.

Originally, we had intended to have a brief stop in Port Augusta but were so glad that we had the extra day. We had heard of two attractions and thought we could probably ‘do’ them in one day. We probably could have but would have missed so much.

Our first stop was the Wadlata Outback Centre which is quite compact but very well designed. It leads in through geological history into the arrival of the Aboriginals and some of their Dreamtime stories and their present-day life and culture. There was a small exhibit devoted to wildlife of the outback and more to the early explorers, Eyre, Stuart and Giles (although, oddly, no mention of Mitchell who, we were frequently reminded when we drove through the outback, explored the area in 1846). This ‘lapse’ was compensated for by a fascinating film of a postman (Tom Kruse) delivering mail in 1954 from Marree along the Birdsville Track to Birdsville itself. We had originally planned on travelling on this route but although it is challenging now, it is no longer the nightmare that he drove through. There was also original footage of the railway and telegraph being laid through to Kalgoorlie. The weather by now had become decidedly warm so that when we saw the old films of people in thick trousers and jackets, even collars and ties at times, working in the outback, we were truly thankful for modern light-weight clothes and full of admiration for the early explorers and settlers. There was so much to take in that we had a ‘pass-out’ to have lunch in the very pleasant restaurant there.

We took no photographs there (thank goodness do I hear you say?!) and it is difficult to paint an adequate picture in words but the centre was excellent and really gave us a taste of what awaited us in the days ahead.

The following day we drove out to the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden which we found totally absorbing if somewhat exhausting as it was very hot and most of the plants gave little shade. As well as showing off the huge range of plants which appear to thrive in very tough conditions, the garden gave ideas for introducing some of these plants into gardens and showing the difference in water consumption of different selections of these plants instead of the same area of lawn – massive water-savings. One of the specialists is a group of plants called erimophelas (also known as Emu Bush or Poverty Bush) and we had a few of these growing in our garden in Perth but were unaware of the huge range of colours, sizes and shapes available. The gardens also supported more wildlife than we had expected.


We found Port Augusta an attractive and friendly town and were a bit sad to leave for Broken Hill, much as we were looking forward to the rest of our journey.

Not far out of town we came across a range of hills and had to drive through these, sometimes in low level cloud, to get through to Peterborough. The land flattened out and we saw a few kangaroos and emus although still much roadkill. As we drove along, clouds of birds would erupt from the various carcases, at first mainly ravens but then more large birds of prey which we have decided must be black kites. We also saw wedgetail eagles on one or two carcases. Some of the countryside through which we travelled was almost as 'boring' as parts of the Nullarbor.


Broken Hill has retained much of its outback town/mining town heritage and is quite attractive in an unexpected way. Its name derives from descriptions given by early explorers of the appearance of some hills in the area (this must be a pretty general area as the town is very largely flat!).
In 1883, the largest silver/lead/zinc orebody in the world was found and the discovers formed the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, now better know as BHP Billiton.

We had pointed out to us a pub which featured in “Priscilla; Queen of the Desert” and I think we saw at least one almost identical pub in almost all the Outback towns we travelled through. There must have been a kit ready to roll out as towns developed. It also has its fair share of ‘characters’ some of whom we saw as we wandered through the town. On our only full day there we had arranged for the Land Cruiser to have a service, neither of us being bush or other type of mechanics, so we had to explore the town on foot. I was disappointed to be unable to find a museum which told the story of the town’s origins and development but found the buildings very interesting, as were little vignettes dotted around the town on noticeboards along the Heritage Trail.


We also found some very colourful and interesting murals or street art.


Later in the day when the vehicle had been serviced, we drove up to the top of a large former mine slag heap on which there is an impressive memorial to the miners who have lost their lives while working in Broken Hill – some, dating back nearly 100 years, were just children. Thankfully casualties have not been reported for several years, demonstrating the improvements in mine safety. We also enjoyed a coffee break (also a break from the wind which howled across the top of the heap) in the Broken Earth Cafe which was perched, we thought very precariously, on the edge of the heap.


Just before leaving our motel, we spotted one the very colourful butterflies that we were to see, subsequently in increasing numbers such that are only a memory in most of the UK these days - in this case, a Spotted Jezebel.


And now we venture into the Outback!

Posted by SteveJD 02:10 Archived in Australia

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I have thoroughly enjoyed your trip so far! The photos are just amazing!! Thank you!

Reply - thanks Christmas! Hope you enjoy the rest of our travels.

by Christmas 2017

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