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|Broken Hill, Friday 29th January 2005|
|A Dry G'day
from Down Under
I took shelter in a fish & chips shop to get a bit dry. Staring out of the window I saw the most fantastic raincoats passing by. They are dark brown, made of an oily type of canvas, with a kind of cape around the shoulders. The owners seems untouched by the rain. No matter how bad the rain gets, the raincoat copes.
These raincoats are typical Australian gear.
Almost the whole country is as dry as a bone, so when in rain the Ozzies prefer to keep it dry too.
That is why the Ozzies call their raincoat
Now, that is fun and humour too.
I roamed all shops in Leura, but did not find such a fine raincoat.
Back in Sydney Rob and Annet immediately get enthusiastic of my raincoat story.
Rob shows his own
He does not really need it in Sydney, but what the hack.
It is just fun, such a dry, canvas raincoat.
Wednesday the 26th was Australia Day.
The whole population of Sydney seemed to gather in the various parks.
Close to the Queen Victoria building a big store caters just about any Australian gear.
Yes, they sell as many
as you like.
They even come in various colours.
Hip hip hurray!
Travelling on board the interstate is a slow motion affair.
Choose another way of transportation when in a hurry.
This thing just goes coast to coast in slo-mo and is proud of it too.
Built for comfort, not for speed,
hmm, I've heard that expression before.
They are right though. Travelling by train is comfortable. There is plenty of space, a reclining chair, a smoke-free environment, a fine slowly changing view, a spacious shower facility with lovely warm water, towels, a lounge, a small restaurant, a kind of hotel on wheels. I enjoy my dinner, get a towel and take a shower to flush the city sweat of Australia Day. Back in my chair, wearing fresh clothes I'm all ready for the journey to Broken Hill.
Just outside Sydney
the Blue Mountains
The view is well known to me, green close by but blue towards the horizon.
The busy populated areas disappear, the clouds make their come back.
Slowly, I see all known train stations of the past weeks: Leura, Katoomba, Blackheath, Mount Victoria
(visit the museum next to the station!)
That is where the train halts.
The police picks up a drunken passenger from the
The whole train population watches.
I hear an approving
He was drunk before he got in
from various sides.
The Blue Mountains end shortly after Lithgow. Big planes appear, with grazing cows. Some kangaroos gather, as if they are in a meeting.
The planes get more and more dry. The grass gets more yellow. The cattle at the planes is now sheep, with an occasional horse. My mobile phone only works when passing ever scarcer villages.
Evening falls, even before the train reaches the desert. It is dark outside. My chair reclines when the movie starts. Isn't this good and this is yet the first bit of the big journey.
The restaurant on board serves eggs on toast for breakfast. I wake up with a black coffee and stare with amazement at the bare desert. This place is dry, just a thousand kilometres from the wet Blue Mountains.
Broken Hill is a bizarre place of arrival. It is a large town, right in de middle of the desert. The air is dry, as dry as a bone. Yet Broken Hill is surprisingly green. It seems that water is symbol of status here. The more expensive the building, the greener the grass that surrounds it, artificially watered.
Broken Hill happens to be in the desert just because it contains lots of ores. It is a mining town, with a distinct, sturdy atmosphere. It is above all a man dominated town, full of 4WD's, hardware shops, out-door gear, pubs and clubs. Working and drinking seem of utmost importance here.
The mines are now almost exhausted. It will take a year of 2 to finish the natural resources. So the economy of the town is switching towards tourism. Tough mining goes hand in hand with the soft service industry, an odd combination. The town has lots of museums, as if the mining is a thing of the past already. There are lots of galleries too, with artists exposing their work. The light must be special here and the special environment a good source of inspiration.
Broken Hill is too big a town to explore by foot. The center is small, but the town expands quite far. The JP Keenan Lookout offers an excellent overview of the entire city, including the strange artificial mountain in the middle.
Pro Hart's exposition is surely worth visiting. Pro Hart was totally unknown to me, but his art is creative, distinct, has identity, well made, top class. There is work of other artists too. To my surprise I am greeted by a portrait of Rembrandt at the entrance. Another hall shows a real Picasso.
Broken Hill is a puzzling combination of sturdiness and culture.
So, I'm ready for the Dutch showers of spring.
Should you, during a heavy rain,
enjoy a SUMit training and wonder how
managed to arrive dry as a bone:
The answer is an Australian
and an abundance of sunshine inside.