Royal Flying Doctor Service

Broken Hill’s airport is also the Royal Flying Doctor Service  headquarters.

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Entrance to the HQ

On entering we were invited to watch a short film about the service, which included real incidents where sick and injured people were picked up by a flying ‘hospital’ and flown to a major population centres.

It is thanks to the Rev John Flynn who was ordained in 1911 and began to set up centres for the sick and injured in the Australian bush. He had a dream of supporting the bush hospitals, miners, farmers etc with a fast medical service, and in 1928, thanks to a large bequest, he began the what we now know as the Flying Doctor Service. The first aircraft being a single engine fabric bi-plane.

The ‘Royal’ was added in 1955 by the Queen.

The explanation of each exhibit in the museum, and the educational video, brought home how important the service is to anything up to 220,000 people who live in remote areas.

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The above is a picture of ‘where does it hurt’ – the injured person could be hours flying time from the nearest doctor, so over the short wave radio he tries to describe his injuries and ‘where it hurts’ by the number & letter code system.

 At the end of the video the receptionists asked us if we would like a conducted tour of their operation. Of course we agreed, and Larry (one of the operational staff) showed us around and explained how the whole system worked.
We saw that day’s operational team, and up to the minute situations. The Service operates 24 hours a day, three hundred and sixty five days a year. When I realised how large the organisation is, the cost of running such an operation is a question that I had to ask. The total cost is around $360 million dollars a year, split between Federal and State Governments for operational costs, but not for replacement of equipment, including about forty aircraft, which have to be replaced after each aircraft reaches about twenty years of age, or so many thousand of landings. On average the Service has to replace three aircraft a year at a cost of $8 million each.

For these aircraft replacements, and everything else from an office chair to a computer printer, has to come from public donations.

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Inside the hanger. (Picture from the RFD web site)

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and outside.

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Concrete landing strips at HQ, but out in the bush it is a dirt landing.
The above picture is from the RFD web site.

Flying Doctor Service

Check the above link for a 90 second piece of film for some real medical items.

Australian TV made a fictional series of the Service in the 1990’s, which became very popular in Germany, UK & Belgium (no idea of  the number of repeats), but donations from the European fan club to help support the Flying Doctor service, is worth about $1 million a year to the Service!
There is also a souvenir shop with a wide range of items for sale, but the best part for me was being shown around the operational centre. The centre was ‘real’ it was not created for the tourists.

Silver City Comet

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Around the corner from our accommodation was an old railway station called Sulphide Street Station. It is no longer in use, but is now the location of a small railway museum.

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Silver City Comet is now part of the museum.

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The above is the left side of the explanation of the train at the museum.

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Pictures of the two engines.

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Economy Class

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First Class . . . .

The yellow signs at the end of the carriage (under 202 and to the left & right) indicates that the area ahead is the smoking area for first class passengers – very un PC today!

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I was impressed with the size of the fully electric kitchen to supply the needs of passengers in 1937.

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Dinning car

The museum had other trains as well as the Silver City Comet.

We were allowed to climb all over the various trains, including inside the engines – you don’t have to be a child to enjoy playing with trains..

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Explain

Within the museum they have a section that has been given over to stories and interviews of migrants to the Broken Hill area from Europe, just after the WW II.

Some stories made very sad reading, and others are quite inspirational. Particularly those who could not speak English when they arrived, yet they managed to make a new home, learn a new language, and in a number of cases they became successful businessmen. They all wanted to fit in to Australia; none of them demanded that they should receive special treatment.
Multiculturalism hadn’t been invented when they arrived; all they wanted was a new safe life, and the right to be Australian.

 

 

Sons of Broken Hill

After visiting Silverton we decided to visit Pro Hart’s gallery in Broken Hill. I am not a particularly enthusiastic art viewer – I know that it has been said before, ‘I know what I like’, but I don’t always understand what I am viewing. The gallery is well laid out over three levels. Many of the paintings had a description alongside, which helped the viewer (me) to understand what the artist was thinking as he painted. The Australian picnic or race meeting were easy to understand, but each one took time to study the full detail. He painted many pictures of ants.
Coming from Broken Hill he would have had a great deal of experience with ants and other insects. Dragon flies were also popular with this artist.
I have read that he approached a tattoo artist to have ants tattooed across his feet, but it never happened due to his illness, he died in 2006 at the age of 77Pro hart

Called the ‘chop bone’ – look closely at the centre.

During our visit to the gallery we watched a short video of his life and his work, which I found interesting, considering that I knew very little of the artist, except that he was Australian, from Broken Hill and created a famous advert for Stainmaster carpet in the 1980s. (Click the link for the 29 second ad)
At the entrance to the gallery we saw his 1973 Silver Shadow Rolls Royce, which he’d repainted with Australian historical scenes.

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The day was an arty day because our next stop was Jack Absalom’s gallery, a short drive from Pro Hart’s gallery.

Jack Absalom’s gallery is part of his home (click on the link to see his paintings). We walked up the path and read the notice on the door – if locked ring bell – if unlocked come in.
It was locked so we rang the bell and an elderly lady came to the door and invited us in to the gallery area. As you see the centre display contains jewellery, and one of the finest displays of Australian opals.

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As we entered the gallery we were left alone to view the paintings. For me, Jack Absalom’s paintings capture the great expanse and feel of outback Australia.

The colour of the floor was carefully thought out to fit with the overall ambiance of the gallery, and the lighting is such that it doesn’t show a shadow. I felt that I could stand and ‘drink in’ the views, feel the heat and smell the bush.

As well as being an artist specialising in the outback, he is also an author – Outback Cooking, Safe Outback Travel to name two. At the age of fifteen he was a professional kangaroo shooter.

We were viewing the paintings when an elderly man came in to the gallery from the private home area, and stood at the counter under Jack Absalom’s portrait. It was then that I realised that it was Jack Absalom himself.

As Maureen and I were the only people in the gallery it didn’t take long before we were in conversation with the artist. I’d picked up a book about his life and his painting and had it in my hand as we spoke. I offered the cash for the book, which he accepted and also took the book and signed it for me. He was telling us that he would be off again to the bush to paint. He expected to be away for several weeks and would be living in the bush – not bad for an 88 year old. He did comment that he had to keep painting in the bush, while he was still young enough to get about  . . .

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This is the portrait of Jack Absalom, painted by Cynthia Dowler, I think it was painted in the early 90’s, so at the time he would have been in his mid-60’s. It now hangs in the Jack Absalom’s gallery.

With hindsight I should have taken his photo with Maureen. Aren’t we all wise after the event?

It had been a long day from mines to film sets and art galleries and it was time for home and a relaxing drop.

Having our drinks on the balcony allowed us to watch the traffic passing, not that there was a lot of traffic after 5.00 pm, but we always received a wave from the passengers in the tourist buses. Perhaps we looked like locals  . . . .

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 . . . . .