We arrived in Echuca on Sunday afternoon. For a town that attracts a lot of tourists due to its old-timey paddle steamers and wrought-iron what-nots, it was very quiet. We ate the first of many roadtrip pies and watched the local gang of youths catch Pokemon in front of ye olde blacksmith.
Highs: Tasty tasty fudge in the ye olde cinema | Lows: Shelley’s Squirtle escaped
We got to Swan Hill quite late in the day and camped our first night in a generic recreational area on the Murray River, where we got our first look at the Grey Nomad tribe. Initials observations are that they enjoy talking about their successful sons and making mildly humorous signs for their rigs, like ‘Barry and Rose’s Slow Coach’.
Stopping at Mildura for lunch on the second day, we found more derelict steam-driven things, both aquatic and locomotive. Locating a well-equipped BBQ at a riverside park was a win, as it meant we could cook our bacon sandwiches for free after being royally ripped off by the hipsters of Mildura at Black Milk cafe.
Highs: Free hot water at Jaycee Park (with all that steam going around they can afford to be generous) | Lows: $5 for a small latte that took forevs to make
Broken Hill is a funny place isn’t it? We heard a bit about its mining history before arriving and while we were impressed by the view of the slag heaps in the dying light of the afternoon sun and the very imposing corten steel memorial they’ve perched atop one of the particularly big slags; we were more excited to see the famous ‘Priscilla hotel’. FYI, Google will try and mislead you, but the real hotel featured in ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert’ is on Argyle Street. Known as Mario’s Palace and dubbed by Guy Pearce’s character as ‘tackorama’, it’s filled with murals, a weird but charming mishmash of Renaissance remakes and Australiana scenes. It was incredible, we could have spent more time/drunk more Sunshine Ale there. Shame the Priscilla room was booked out.
We also checked out the Pro Hart museum in Broken Hill. The Lonely Planet guide claims that in addition to his own pieces, the gallery houses works by Albert Tucker, Norman Lindsay, Brett Whiteley, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso. We saw no evidence of this, although some of his work is reminiscent of these artists, but with more yabbys. The collection did give us a really good sense of Broken Hill’s culture over the lifetime of the artist who was a miner in his younger years and painted his thoughts on his surroundings. Frankly, Broken Hill life over the last century looked uber-blokey and terrifying – lotsa playin cards underground, drinkin methylated spirits and illtreatin animals.
Highs: Aquiring stubby holder from Mario’s Palace with wraparound murals, Pro Hart’s ‘The Yabby Eaters’ | Lows: Drinking water from camping spot in Broken Hill racecourse tasted like chlorine, not Yellowglen NV Yellow as expected
We continued on the Silver City Highway to picturesque ghost town Silverton, a dusty crossroads spotted with mutilated VW Beetles and rogue horses who want to punish you for their shithouse existence. Formerly a silver mining community, it is now a goldmine for 4WD advertising execs and film location scouts looking to roll tumbleweeds past decrepit things. It has featured in films like Mad Max 2, Priscilla and Mission Impossible 2. So we got some great arty photos for the Insta and continued on our merry way. If you felt like paying $15 for the privilege of looking at Mad Max 2 props, you could visit the museum. Instead we chose to drive the roads around Silverton to Mundi Mundi lookout and Umberumberka reservoir and pretend we were in all of those movies at once.
Highs: Escaping the horse bite that was coming at Gaz’s face | Lows: Using X-Pro II filter when Lo-Fi would have been better