Hello! Lovely to see you! Here you will find random posts about living a creative life in country Australia. I am an illustrator. I create, take photos, faff, collect, teach. Watercolour, collage, colour, cheese, travel and dreaming are my faves. And Turkish delight. And cushions. And gardening. And op-shops...

Sunday, 25 May 2014

BROKEN HILL AND BROKEN HEARTS



Me , myself and I...my shadow on the slag heap

BROKEN HILL AND BROKEN HEARTS

This post is a little different to my usual, with a bit more substance to it..not just pretty pictures and eye candy.Please indulge me, as I give a little peek into another side of Broken Hill, quite different in nature to the post a little while back I did about Bell's Milk Bar.This is about another icon of 'the Hill', but not perhaps quite so charming.

For those not familiar with its location... many, many, many hours drive away from where I live,in Country NSW, already over 4 hours from Sydney and the coast
(indeed, far enough away that if I replaced NSW with a map of Europe we would have driven across several countries to get there)is a place called Broken Hill. You may well know it by name , even if you have not been there. Yes, it is in Outback NSW, not far from the South Australian border.Yes, it has featured in many movies.Yes,It is a bustling place, this city in the middle of a desert.

 It has amazingly cool street names, like Talc St. Galena St., Bromide St.,all names of elements and minerals. And the city itself is hunkered down under the gaze of surely what is one of the most bizarre and ugly things-a huge, massive gargantuan slag heap. A flat topped hill made from all the useless and unwanted stuff dug from deep in the bowels of the earth, in man's search for the things we desire.A waste heap of rock and dirt, brown, grey, red,  and totally treeless and not a blade of grass anywhere. It is indeed a Broken Hill.

And on top of this giant man made monstrosity, looming above the city, is a stark, powerful, brute of a memorial (and a modern cafe..now abandoned.)  

The memorial is for the fallen, lost men whose lives were claimed by mining accidents. Horrendously killed, by falls, crushings, explosions, infections, mishap and faulty equipment.. just to name a few of the grim means that they may have met their end.

Each man and boy who has died has their name, how they were killed, where they were killed and their age recorded on a wall of memory, complete  with a sad and faded plastic rose. Heartbreaking, and so much grief in what has always been a tight - knit town full of strong characters and strong hearts.

It truly is remarkable and deeply moving place, made even more powerful by its location, because from up high and its vantage point, the isolation and the enormous span of the horizon is intense.You look out and see space, vast open space, desert, and sky. You can even see some of the curvature of the earth, it is so damn incredibly vast.

I was so desperate to get back to Broken Hill, to feel the enormity and scale of our country, and bask in its isolation.I had been there as a teenager, and it had felt powerfully intense.I drew orange and blue, flat landscapes afterwards for many months. And now I felt the same emotions stirring, again, up here on the slag heap. 

Standing there felt akin to standing on some bizarre planet, like something or somewhere BBC might have filmed Dr. Who episodes, or some other slightly dodgy sci-fi show.

Truly and definitely strange. 

Definitely an experience.

Definitely glad I am not a miner.Definitely amazed by those who go deep into the underground for their livelihood.Definitely aware of how HUGE our nation is. And definitely glad to be back there to experience it all again.
Just as raw and powerful as I remembered it. 

 Roses on the memorial wall


Miss 7, looking out from the memorial
Memorial shapes, brutal and harsh against a blue outback sky
now abandoned cafe on the slag heap
The Miner's Memorial in profile
Looking back from the desert, the slag heap, with the and cafe and memorial...and Broken Hill nestled beneath them.