A town that grew out of silver.

Our accommodation in Broken Hill was a converted pub that used to be called the Duke of Cornwall

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I’d asked for an upstairs room so that we could use the balcony in the evenings.

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‘You know who’ on the balcony – in the background can be seen the ‘tailing’ or waste products from the old mines.

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Part of the balcony overlooking the main street of Broken Hill.

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We were able to drive to the top of the tailing and view the town below.

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On the top of the tailing is a monument to all the miners who have lost their lives in the mines.

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We walked inside the memorial and found that every miner who had been killed while working a Broken Hill mine is recorded. The deaths start in 1885 and carry on to the early part of this century. The names go on and on

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Of course around Australia we have the Big Banana, Big Prawn, Big Crayfish, and Big Marino sheep to name just a few. Here in Broken Hill they have the BIG SEAT!

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People used to be able to use the seat, but I don’t think the artist intended that it should be used as a real seat, because I couldn’t see any access to reach the seat (steps etc). As you see it is now surrounded by a fence, perhaps to comply with health and safety and make sure a user couldn’t sue the town council if they fell off or through the slats of the seat.

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The city is not busy – Maureen standing in the main street of Broken Hill outside our accommodation.

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A short walk from the ‘Cornwall’ and we came to the town centre. This is all that is left of the original town hall. Behind the façade it is a now a car park, where the remainder of the building used to stand until the 1970’s. It is thanks to the Broken Hill historical society that they managed to save the front aspect of the building.
Fortunately the post office next door is still operating as a post office.

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Not far from the town hall is the Palace Hotel made famous (or should that be more infamous?) after the release of Priscilla Queen of the Desert in 1994. While we were in Broken Hill part of the Palace Hotel was being refurbished.

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In addition to the fame from being involved with the film, the hotel is also famous for the inside murals. We were allowed in this area even though the area was being refurbished.

MuralsEntrance area of the hotel.

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Broken Hill in the evening, taken from our balcony.
A very pleasant area after the heat of the day.

The old tailing of the now worked out mines dominates the town, but the man made hill doesn’t take anything away from the town. I found Broken Hill to be an very interesting place and a restful place compared to Sydney. Life is slower, with a strong link to yesteryear. One day we will return.

Silverton movies and all that . . .

The Silverton Pub.

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As soon as I saw the local pub I recognised it from various films.

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Mad Max 2

Town

A town like Alice  – Australian min-series from the book by Nevil Shute.TownLikeAlice

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Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,
to name three that I’ve seen, and I couldn’t count the number of TV adverts.

Outside was parked an ‘INTERCEPTOR love child’ from the Mad Max film.

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As you can see it was hot and dry, so we had to go in for a cool drink from the barman behind the corrugated iron bar.

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My wife and I were the only customers -the two people you can see were staff.

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We carried our drinks outside – more corrugated iron, but under the shade it was quite pleasant.gaol1

The local gaol has been turned in to a museum, which focused on the surrounding area. What we thought would be a quick visit turned in to a much longer visit, because of the large number of exhibit rooms, and the display items outside at the back (beyond the wall in the picture). It was a fascinating visit. We were there about an hour and a half.

In the gaol museum we asked about the Mad Max II film and a local told us of the view from Mundi Mundi Lookout (another double name). From this lookout we could see the flat plain where some of the exciting scenes from the Mad Max film were shot. Where we stood seemed to be the only ‘high’ ground in the area. I say high, but it was only a few feet higher than the surrounding land.DSC03624r

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Not a cloud in the sky.

For more information about the making of Mad Max II at this location, just click on the link.

Although it was very hot, it was a dry heat with low humidity, which was not as unpleasant as  the same heat in Sydney, which would have had a high humidity.

Road trip to mines and dust.

The Silver City Highway took us out of Mildura, and we headed north to the home of the largest mining company in the world.

Charles Sturt, the explorer, in 1844 saw, and named, the Barrier Range, and commented in his diary that he had seen a ‘broken hill’, as part of the Range. Later silver ore was found at the ‘broken hill’. The hill is no more due to the silver ore having been mined and mined.
Some called the town ‘Silver City’, others the ‘Oasis in the West’ and yet others called it the ‘Capital of the Outback’, but today is is Broken Hill.
Although Broken Hill is in New South Wales, over 1100 kms (680 miles) west of Sydney, the nearest major town is Adelaide in South Australia, which is more than 500 km (311 miles) south west of Broken Hill.
The average rainfall is 235 mm (9 inches), so it is an ideal place for hosting one of the largest solar powered generating plants in Australia.

Broken Hill is an interesting ‘old Australian’ town, with wide streets, friendly people and plenty of places to visit.
During our road trip last year we (my wife & I) decided to stay in Broken Hill for three nights.

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Wide streets and friendly people.

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Broken Hill is quiet, but not dead.

During our stay we planned to visit Silverton, which is a ‘ghost’ town about twenty five kms from Broken Hill.

On the way to Silverton we decided to visit an old mine called Day Dream Mine. We thought the tour of the mine began at 10.30 am, so planned to arrive just before the start.
The sealed road out of Broken Hill was fine until we came to the turn to take us to the mine, which was about thirteen kms along a dirt road.

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The picture above is of the beginning of our thirteen kilometre drive. We had to go through two or three barred gate accesses. Maybe the gates were to comply with health and safety at night, because there is nothing worth stealing, unless you are big in to dust.

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I was glad that I hadn’t cleaned the car earlier.

DSC03613rEventually we arrived at the mine. A young lady was the only occupant of this ‘office’  (the lady in the picture is my wife, Maureen), and she told us that we had missed the start of the tour by half an hour, but we could join it if we wished. The next tour would be about an hour and a half later.
We declined her offer and just chatted about the mine as she pointed out various items of interest, which were old rusty mine equipment from the 1800’s, and where the old town used to be located. DSC03607r

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The picture shows the remains of the old ‘town’, more like individual houses, built by the miners. The settlement flourished between 1882 and 1889.

We didn’t wait for the next tour and with hindsight we made the right choice. The following day we met a husband and wife, and the husband’s elderly mother.
They were on the mine visit while Maureen and I were in the ‘office’ of the mine. They commented about not having the correct footwear to climb down a steep ladder to the bottom of the mine. The elderly lady was 81, and she was glad when it was all over, but her son and his wife also found it hard going, and they were in their late fifties. Having been down a deep slate mine in North Wales (on a vertical train) we were quite happy to miss the Day Dream Mine – perhaps if we were younger we would feel different.

Our next stop was the ghost town of Silverton.

 

Cost over convienience

I thought I’d drop a line about our experience at Kuala Lumpur airport if you are considering staying in KL for a few days.

On arrival at KLIA should you use the KLIAEkspres train or a taxi?

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Air-conditioned and comfortable – all announcements are in English as well as Malay.

It depends on how many are in your party. Having used both, it comes down to convenience compared to cost, and what is the difference.

Taxi

Taxis are large enough for four adults and have plenty of room for four suitcases.

If on a tight budget, and you are young single or a young couple, and healthy, perhaps the Ekspres train is the most cost effective, but you still have to add the cost of a taxi, Monorail or Rapidrail from Sentral (railway station) to your hotel, and you have the inconvenience of manhandling your bags.

For three or more people I found that a taxi is the most cost effective, and the most convenient, but be aware the journey is about forty five minutes to an hour, depending on time of day.

Based on actual costs in 2014, the cost of the Ekspress train was RM 35 / person one way, (it is now RM 55.00), making a total of RM 105 for three people; add RM 40 for a taxi to the major hotel area in the city centre, and you have a total cost of RM 145. (RM 205 for three in 2016)
A taxi from the KLIA cost me RM 134 for four people – door to door. (still around this price in 2016, it all depends on the traffic).

The increase in the Ekspress tickets could make the taxi option a more economical choice today, for two people, compared to three in my example. Overall I doubt that there would be much time saving by using the train – 28 minute ride, find a taxi at Sentral, possible fifteen minute ride to your hotel – compare this to about 45 minutes ride by taxi, door to door in air-conditioned comfort..

If you decide to take a taxi from the airport to the city, buy your voucher from the taxi counter at the airport RM 2.00 (just before you exit in to the meet & greet area – you’ll see other people around the taxi counter) – don’t get involved with touts outside the terminal it’s not worth the exercise.
On existing the terminal a supervisor will take your voucher and direct you to the correct taxi – he will hand back the voucher, which will be split between you and the taxi driver – keep your half just in case you have a problem later (e.g left something behind in his cab). The taxi will be metered, and you pay the metered price.

On departure from Kuala Lumpur  – depending on the airline that you use to depart Kuala Lumpur, the air line check-in at Sentral is a breeze.

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Check-in at Sentral

My wife and I, and our friends used Malaysian Airlines, which allowed us to check-in at Sentral, but recently other airlines have added check-in facilities – Royal Brunei, Cathay Pacific, Emirates and Etihad The cost compared to convenience is now reversed.

For a morning flight of 9.00 am from KLIA to Sydney, a check-in of two to two and a half hours before take-off was required.
We left our hotel at 6.30 am for the fifteen minute drive to Sentral, where we checked-in and lodge our checked bags.
The Ekspress train, just after 7.00 am, had us at KLIA in twenty eight minutes, and we strolled through immigration and security with just hand baggage, and missed the stressful airport check-in, the hours drive, and the checked bag lodging system. We arrived stress free at the departure gate, after a short visit to the duty free area.

For early to mid morning flights we consider the extra cost of the Ekspress system worth paying, because of the lack of stress.But then we are no longer young and active . . . . .

Three hundred years of print and thought.

The sunlight filters through the panes
of book-shop windows, pockmarked grey
By years of grimy city rains,
And falls in mild, dust-laden ray
Across the stock, in shelf and stack,
Of this old bookshop-man who brought,
To a shabby shop in a cul-de-sac,
Three hundred years of print and thought.

Like a cloak hangs the bookshop smell,
soothing, unique and reminding:
The book-collector knows its spell,
Subtle hints of books and binding—
In the fine, black bookshop dust paper,
printer’s-ink and leather,
Binder’s-glue and paper-rust.
And time, all mixed together.

‘Blake’s Poems, Sir—ah, yes, I know,
Bohn did it in the old black binding,
In ’83.’ Then shuffles slow
To scan his shelves, intent on finding
This book of songs he has not heard,
With that deaf searcher’s hopeful frown
Who knows the nightingale,
a bird With feathers grey and reddish-brown.

John Arlott.

The British cricket commentator – I can remember him on the radio (in the UK) as a child, but not being a cricket tragic I never knew that he wrote poetry, until years later.

As I looked at the books stacked on the pavement near Churchgate in Bombay (Mumbai now), his poem came to mind. Must admit I couldn’t remember it all, and had to look it up.
He originally wrote it for a friend, after seeing more than fifty book shops in Hay on Wye, on the boarder between England and Wales.

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Pavement book sellers Mumbai – blue tint due to the bus windows.

Book seller

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The above book seller in Hay on Wye was not happy with Kindle, he calls himself Prince Derek Fitz-Pitt Booth Addyman – the self proclaimed King of Hey on Wye – he proclaimed his title in 1977.
In the mid 60’s he visited the US to collect books from libraries that were closing,  and he shipped the old books back to Hey on Wye to help create what we know today.

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Hay on Wye sellers could be a standard shop or just an open stall in the grounds of the old castle.

Each year they hold a festival of books , which President Clinton refereed to in 2001, as the ‘Woodstock of the mind’.

Hey on Wye is in Wales, but the Royal Mail considers it is still in Herefordshire  –

DSC00278c As we walked in to the town we ‘crossed’ the border . . .

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There was no misunderstanding for this home owner as to which country he lived in – the house was right on the border. The Welsh Dragon said it all . . . .

The world is not always what you think

While in Georgetown, Penang, we decided to visit an unusual place.

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I like to hang around a place.

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Even the dinning room looked a little odd.

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The kitchen was clean, but the fridge door kept opening when ever someone leaned on the fridge.

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The piano could have done with a tune up.

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The strange environment didn’t seem to bother the fish.

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At least if you fall off the ceiling you have a soft bed on which to land.

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One had to hold on to keep their balance.

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Grab the bedhead and swing over to the bed.

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The children’s room was smaller

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One more go at landing correctly.

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Take a dive and hope that nobody will flush . . . .

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Hang on !

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Play room, and the blood is no longer rushing to my head.

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One handed balancing – now that is what I call balancing.

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Outside was just as strange.

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Stop that!

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Still outside

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The outside veg & fruit shop was interesting.

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A head for heights comes in handy as we inched along the ledge.

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Even when we finished I still felt a little off centre.

The lowest advertised fare is not always the lowest overall cost.

When I arranged our holiday in Vietnam for my wife and I, and our friends, we were all price sensitive, so I had to be careful of the costs.

Flying out of Sydney we could fly with Vietnam Airlines VietnamAirlines  or Qantas Qantas_Airways_Limited_logo.svg, but when I checked on the prices I realised that Vietnam Airlines had a virtual ‘monopoly’ on the route. Qantas did not operate their own aircraft, but sold tickets on their subsidiary airline Jetstar  Jetstar . Once I knew this I checked the cost of the Jetstar tickets. Their tickets were still too expensive after one added various additional charges for food, drinks, and entertainment.
My wife & I and another couple had flown Jetstar on a domestic route for a ninety-minute flight. We found them satisfactory, but as I am over six feet tall (188 cm in new money), the limited space in economy was tolerable for a maximum of ninety-minutes, so for a flight of eight-hours or more it was was out of the question, so it had to be Vietnam Airlines. Or did it?

I spent some time checking a number of different airlines Malaysian Airlines  MH (our old friend), which would require a night stop in Kuala Lumpur (more cost), Cathay Pacific Cathay_Pacific_logo.svg via Hong Kong was too expensive, Thai International  250px-Thai_Airways_Logo.svg ; a possibility over Bangkok, but they were expensive, so I finally checked Singapore Airlines Singapore_Airlines_Logo.svg and their rate was the same as Jetstar fare when I add on the additional cost for food, drink & entertainment. In fact Singapore Airlines was a few dollars cheaper than the total Jetstar price, and much cheaper than Vietnam Airlines, so it was Singapore Airlines, which would require an hour and a bit transit time in Singapore; but our bags would be booked through to Saigon. (Ho Chi Minh ).

Having flown with Singapore Airlines before I retired, I knew that their economy seating was larger than Jetstar – more room for all of us..

I booked with Singapore Airlines and we left Sydney at 8.30 am and connected with the 2.40 pm flight from Singapore to Saigon, arriving at 3.45 pm local time. I found it ironic that if we’d have booked the more expensive Jetstar we would not have arrived in Saigon until around 10.00 pm.

By using Singapore Airlines our booking would give us the opportunity of taking advantage of their ‘special offers’, which included discounted hotel rates in Singapore, discounted entrance fees to many places of interest, a free tour of Singapore, so a couple of nights in Singapore, at the end of our Vietnam trip, was the way to go.

Am I the only one that finds it funny that Ho Chi Minh’s city code, for the airline industry, is still SGN (Saigon). I suppose it is the same as PEK (Peking) for Beijing or RGN (Rangoon) for Yangon, BOM (Bombay) for Mumbai, CCU (Calcutta) for Kalkata . . . . it must be me.