Friday, July 31, 2015

Silverton: A Ghost Town Lives On

We have driven 25 km out of Broken Hill to the almost abandoned town of Silverton. It is hard to believe that in the late 1880’s Silverton was a bustling mining town with a population of 3,000 people. Today, even the buildings that once used to line these streets are no more—many having been transported to Broken Hill. A small population of about 60 people keeps the town ticking. Broken Hill’s mining boom actually began in Silverton but today, it is the artist’s galleries that draw visitors here. 

An eclectic mix of old world housing, rusted cars and dusty streets is what you see when you first drive up. But step inside some of the galleries and you are drawn into the colourful world of the outback and you begin to understand why artists have chosen to live in what is now almost a ghost town. The beauty of the outback is not apparent right away.  You have to stay here awhile and scratch below the surface to discover it.  Perhaps after you have witnessed a few sunsets that set the big skies alight or slept under the stars and woken up to the most brilliant views of the Milky Way, you may begin to appreciate why so many people have fallen in love with the Australian Outback.

The variable climate and low rainfall has prevented these towns from developing. Yet, as we travel through we feel there is so much more potential in the outback than meets the eye. We have driven past the Mundy Mundy plains where so many movies were filmed—Mad Max 2, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and countless commercials—to sleep at the Umberumberka Reservoir.  While in Broken Hill we learnt that though the average rainfall in this catchment is only about 250mm a year, the average evaporation rate could be around 2,000mm a year!  This poses great challenges for managing the population and again I wonder if some of the permaculture techniques we learnt about like the water retention landscapes might not be of benefit here. 

No comments:

Post a Comment