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In Australia, outback landscapes are reviving a broken mountain

In Australia, outback landscapes are reviving a broken mountain

Michael Scheinecker had a dream for a long time. Finally, in May, he and his wife jumped into his big pick-up truck. In two days he traveled the 2,800km that separates his city from Perth – on the south-west coast. Australia – From the ghost town of Silverton: 19 ine century, when gold was hunted and silver veins were discovered, adventurers and laborers flocked to this remote corner. The mine closed and they left. Six churches remain, but only 50 people.

By arriving in Silverton, city dweller Michael Scheinecker immerses himself in the legendary outback of the Australian outback. He is great. Restless and beautiful, full of energy and yet almost desolate. However, if Michael went so far, it was not primarily to these wide open spaces. It is Mad Max 2, The Challenge, an Australian film where he goes crazy. Michael wanted to see The Corner, a 1981 film that was a mix of action, action and sci-fi. and attendance Museum under the same name.

Thorns, acacia, eucalyptus…

The museum was created by Adrian Bennett. This Englishman has discovered Mad Max 2 If “awesome” Cars, motorcycles, clothes and film-related items piled up in a huge hangar. Some were used for filming, others were replicas.

To take advantage of this museum, Michael will stay in Silverton for two days: he has reserved a room in the same hotel. The day after tomorrow, he would travel to the neighboring town of Broken Hill, supported by a large pile of slag. He has only 25 kilometers of paved road to cover amid vast arid landscapes, rarely punctuated by a few farms. Generally it is a realm of tall grass, thorn bushes, acacias, eucalyptus, dust, saffron, red, parchment, sun-struck soil. And sometimes fire. This year, the countryside is barely green. It rained heavily. Due to this, roads are impassable in Muttavindji National Park. It is impossible to reach the most beautiful tribal rock carvings in the region.

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Looks like a far west town

Like Silverton, Broken Mountain is an oasis in the middle of the outback. Like Silverton, the town was founded in 1850 thanks to its silver, lead and zinc mines. The first arrivals were pioneers, sometimes adventurers. Hard workers too: In the beginning, the miners worked in such terrible conditions that a powerful trade union movement was born: the great strike of 1919-1920 lasted more than eighteen months! Today, 16,000 people retain the taste for freedom and independence from this epic.

Broken Mountain also looks like a town in the American Far West: the desert begins at the city gates, the streets are wide, and the buildings are no more than two stories high. Vaguely Victorian in style, many are fronted by colonnaded galleries. The main avenue, the “Street of Money” (Argent Street), is easily recognizable thanks to the post office’s brick tower. Farmers from the surrounding areas come here in pick-ups to do their shopping, while young people flock to the many bars and restaurants in the evenings and weekends. The atmosphere is friendly, the decor often rustic, solid burgers, thick steaks, breaded cutlets, fries, all washed down with beer and sometimes local gin.

The omnipresent past

At other times, the city seems a bit deserted. However, there are still a few hundred miners working at the mine where the zinc has now been acquired. And the past is omnipresent: atop a grim pile of slush, a steel monument honors past tragedies: inside, among artificial roses, plaques list the names of the 800 victims annually. In the town, the mining past is on display at the museum, which pays tribute to the geography of the region. However, the population of Broken Hill is declining. To get out of its rut ​​and secure its future, it is now focusing on tourism.

Already, cinema has helped him come out of obscurity. Australians love to make and watch films that showcase the Outback and its vastness. The richness of its landscapes, spectacular color change over the course of the day, and easy access from major cities make Broken Hill an ideal shooting destination. It was in 1971 I woke up in horror, the story of a teacher who, during a stopover on his way to vacation, discovers a veritable hell in a mining town. then, Mad Max. then, Priscilla, Mate of the Desert.

The film follows a group of drag queens on a bus named Priscilla as they colorfully cross Australia. Scenes were shot around Broken Hill, others at the Palace Hotel (48 rooms), 227 rue de l’Argent. Since then, the kitsch decoration of a bedroom has been retained: this “Priscilla suite” was a huge hit with customers.

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“The Big Picture”, the number one tourist attraction

Originally, in 1889, the Palace Hotel was a refreshment establishment, favored by the Women’s League. Due to lack of profits, it was soon closed. A hotel-restaurant took the place. Today it is a tourist attraction. Thanks Priscilla of course. Thanks to the large colorful paintings on its walls and its staircase. Its owner, Mario Celotto, painted part of it, while others were inspired by Gordon Way, an Aboriginal artist from the Australian outback.

However, Broken Hill’s number one tourist attraction is the “Big Picture,” a 100-meter-long, 12-meter-high circular mural on display inside the building at 66 Chloride Street. It will be “World’s Largest Acrylic Painting”. Author? Ando, ​​a local artist. Meaning? Again, outback landscapes. Here, they are presented with such incredible luxury details that the audience believes they are in the midst of nature.

Many artists are also inspired by these same landscapes. Often they exhibit in their own gallery, such as Kevin Charles “Bro” Hart. This former miner, now deceased, was the father of the Australian hinterland pictorial movement. Although he painted mine and religious subjects as well, he owes his fame to his ability to recapture the “spirit of foreign countries” in his paintings.

12 giant sculptures carved in sandstone

After hesitation, Broken Hill’s elected officials also realized that large protected areas and clear skies were undeniable assets to attract tourists. At the city’s gates, they have consecrated a vast nature reserve called the “Living Desert”. Atop a hill are 12 giant sculptures carved in sandstone by artists from around the world. A perfect place to watch the sunset over the majestic landscapes. Also see kangaroos and emus – two symbols of the region – and all kinds of local flora. On the outskirts of Broken Hill, Linda Knodge enchants tourists with her outdoor dinners, dedicated to observing the stars and the Milky Way. As for Peta and Duncan Devine, they offer camel rides around their farm in Silverton. It’s a nod to the Afghan camels that once helped “open” the outback to pioneers.

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With a passion to help “natural” tourism, these choices succeed. Tomorrow, if Broken Hill bounces back, it will be thanks to its large untamed spaces that don’t represent the mood of Australians.

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One kingdom, six states, three territories…

Opened to Europeans in 1770 by Captain Cook. Australia has been colonized by Great Britain since 1788.

Today it is an autonomous parliamentary democracy, But it is attached to the British Crown. He is a member of the Commonwealth.

This country is fourteen times the size of France It is divided into six states – especially in New South Wales, 1,100 km west of Sydney, Broken Hill – and two territories.

90% of the 25.7 million people Fifteen live in major coastal cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide…). The rest of the country is almost deserted
(2 to 3 people/km2)

Ask about:
– Australian Tourism Board: https://www.australia.com/en-us
– Further:
https://destinationbrokenhill.com.au/