Compared to our previous logs – the trip to Broken Hill was quick in comparison. Just over 100kms, we were at our first destination by 9.30am or 10am Sydney time. *Insert interesting fact: Broken Hill is 30 minutes behind the rest of NSW – a result of a train line that connected South Australia to Broken Hill over a lifetime ago. Due to this train line, Broken Hill was kept on the same time zone as the remainder of South Australia! Save this fact for your next trivia night at the pub!
After arriving at Broken Hill and scoping out the locale of our caravan park for the evening, we drove to a local caravan repair shop to fix the water pump – a part of the van that had a slight disagreement with me whilst in Menindee. Despite the Menindee site being absolutely beautiful, we had become accustomed to having water connected to the van during our last eight days in the van. As the Menindee caravan site was not connected to ‘main’ water, we had to use the water pump to extract water for drinking, cooking etc. It broke! Hence the need to get it repaired in Broken Hill. After a quick visit to the repair shop, we were back and running (or should I say pumping)… Felt so proud of my manly repairing skills – think I should ask Santa for a tool belt for Christmas!!
We arrived at camp and quickly set up to explore the Living Desert and Sculptures off Nile Mile Road – a short distance out of town. We paid the entry fee we drove a windy road towards the top of a hill, where sculptors from around the world were commissioned to create approximately 12 sandstone artworks depicting stories of Aboriginal legend, horses, a carving of the sculptors son and one in which “only Fred Hollows and I truly know what the sculpture is”. Really interesting for Caroline and I – Audrey and Ava just ran around like headless chooks for 30 minutes.
Another first for Caroline and I at the sculptures. Friends of ours, Claire and Mark, bought us a selfie stick for our adventure (actually in reflection, I think it was bought for the girls – now claimed by me!). We used the selfie stick for the first time today and loved it – think it will get more use over the next 80 days!! Thank you Claire and Mark!!
After visiting the sculptures, we headed to our next artistic location of the day. An enormous (and very impressive) Solar Farm that AGL own, approximately 5kms outside of Broken Hill. For a novice in the energy arena, I have to say I was dazzled by the technology and infrastructure. The site itself was the equivalent of 160 soccer fields! Solar panels as far as the eye could see. Dave (an employee of First Solar) was absolutely fantastic. He explained the Solar Farm, the impact of the elements (rain, clouds) on wattage and the conversion of the energy. I felt extremely comfortable asking what may have been silly questions as was eager to learn from our personal tour of the plant. Caroline too was in awe of the Solar Plant – a different ‘technology’ to the wind farms she is used to. I could tell from her face that her interest was equally matched by her pride in working for AGL.
After our Solar Farm excursion, we decided to divide and conquer. Caroline took Audrey to get restock on supplies, while Ava and I tried to wash off approximately 30kgs of red earth from the car. May sound like a slight ‘Lachlan’ exaggeration, but it really was approximately 30kgs of dirt that came off the car!! Ava and I picked up Caroline and Audrey and headed to our next destination after restocking the van – the Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS).
Similar to Caroline’s interest in the Solar Farm, I felt a deep connection and desire to visit the RFDS. Hearing my Gran Gran (Molly St Vincent Welch) state it numerous times, my Great Uncle Kenyon St Vincent Welch, was the first EVER flying doctor, making an emergency flight from Cloncurry to Julia Creek in 1928. Furthermore, my father and mother also worked for the RFDS as doctor and nurse respectively, living in Broken Hill before I was born. This linage made me very proud to be of St Vincent Welch / Beattie stock!!
After visiting the RFDS we returned back to the caravan park for a quick shower as we had civilised dinner plans for the evening. Caroline had managed to arrange a dinner catch up with one of her school mates, John Wenham, his wife Sarah and their daughter Esther in Broken Hill. Coincidently, John recently worked for the RFDS and shared stories of flying to remote areas of New South Wales and Queensland. We shared a few beverages, a lovely meal of ‘Spag Bol’ enjoying our return to civilised life. Ester was absolutely fantastic, entertaining Ava and Audrey while Caroline, John, Sarah and I engaged in adult conversation. Thank you Esther! And a special thanks to John and Sarah for their hospitality! Please look us up if you are ever in Sydney!!
After dinner we headed back to the van. The girls were exhausted from the action packed evening and fell asleep pretty much instantaneously. Soon to bed for Caroline and I – a long trip tomorrow to Hawker (a town in the Flinders Rangers).