Wednesday, December 12

Day Dream Mine - Silverton

I was really keen to visit the town of Silverton, which is about 22 kms from Broken Hill, and I set off not only to see the town but to visit the DayDream Mine which is some distance from Silverton.  I had phoned earlier to see if I could stay at the Penrose Park Caravan Park, but there was no answer and I left a message.  (I later learned that they tried to phone me, but had not written down my correct number.)

On the way to Silverton I had a bit of a scare.  I had made a pact with myself that I would not stop to help anyone on the way, lest a distressed person be the bait which someone sinister uses to con a traveller to stop, and there in the middle of the road near Silverton was a woman, and nearby a car with another woman.  Breathe deeply and keep driving I say to myself and drive on.  As I reached them the woman had left the middle of the road, and I could see she was just taking photos!   Phew!!!  I went on to the Caravan Park, but there was no one there, so I headed into Silverton itself and stopped at the hotel.  There I learned that the caretaker had gone to Broken Hill for the morning, and would be back later.  Don't you love it where country folk know everything??!!!

Me ready to go down the mine.
So I headed for DayDream Mine.  It was quite a long way from the sealed road, on rather rough dirt roads, and two gates to open and shut as one went through.  There are other working mines there, sheep, goats and the occasional emu on the roads, but I made it to the little shop where one pays/books for the mine tour.  There were a few people sitting around - tourists from New South Wales and Queensland, and we chatted and when a group returned from the mine I questioned them about the difficulties of visiting the mine.  I was assured it was easy!!  So I paid my dollars!

Our tour guide Jason, explains how difficult it was to work in poor candlelight in the mine.


This was 'home' to a miner.  A pile of rocks, and timber or canvas roof,

The mine is underground, there were low ceilings,  primitive 'stairs' and with our lamps on our heads we made our way cautiously through the mine, following the guide who explained the various parts of the mine, how it was constructed, how the miners worked.  It was a shock to learn that 8 year old boys worked these mines, as the Mica and other environmental hazards rendered them blind and sick (Mica is a glass like mineral that was inhaled and caused terrible lung damage, bleeding and  early death).  At one stage my left leg went wobbly, and I was concerned about getting out.  I had no choice but to keep walking.  At times we were bent double, almost at a crawl, and slowly inched our way through the mine.

The miners worked with basic tools, in candle light (candles not as good as the one our guide showed us!), six days a week for about 10 hours a day.  Around 500 people lived in the mine area, and the remains of many buildings are dotted around the mine site.   It would have been very hot in summer, and very cold in winter - hard to imagine the terrible conditions in which they worked.

Eventually we came out of the mine, and by then both legs were wobbly.  I can on suggest that I pulled muscles in my thigh as I almost crawled and I did suffer for nearly two days afterwards.  A couple who were on the tour had a huge Newfoundland terrier Mouse, a lovely dog that they left a the shop.  Strangely I was to meet up with this couple several more times in the next few days, even at Burra!!

Scenery around the mine area - many mines are still working there.

Dry creek bed.

Old buildings around DayDream Mine - the building on the right was where the mine owner lived.

After the mine trip was over (and I had resolved NEVER to go down a mine again!) I returned to the Caravan Park, and booked into one of the cabins.    As it turned out I was the only traveller staying in the park on that night.  Apparently many travellers avoid this area in summer, so there are plenty of vacancies in these places at this time of year.  My cabin was primitive - basic - a small donga, with fridge, bed, table and bathroom.  Enough for me.

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