Where bicycles go to die

There is no official definition of where the Australian Outback  starts.

But when you reach Silverton, NSW, you have definitely arrived. It’s “original outback”, according to the sign.

There is red dirt, open landscape, and flies. Lots of flies.

Silverton is basically a ghost-town with tourists and tourism infrastructure.

It is still a living, breathing place, albeit a dusty, rusty one. Well, apart from the cemetery, which is less living and more dusty.

Apart from the wind farm turbines turning lazily on the horizon, you could be a million miles from anywhere. But you are only 22 kilometres from Broken Hill (which in itself could be considered a million miles from anywhere).

We have come to Silverton by car, but with bicycle on hand. My plan is to explore around town and then ride to Broken Hill.

Silverton, a proud precursor to Broken Hill, is kept alive today by the drawcards of mining history, outback artists and its film resume. It has been the site of a number of Australian films, including Mad Max II, Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Razorback. The town’s very own star actor is the Silverton Hotel.

 

We have come to Silverton by car, but with bicycle on hand. My plan is to explore around town and then ride to Broken Hill.

The pub is the obvious place for lunch. Its walls are adorned with fading photos of the famous actors who have been there. It is for sale.

After lunch, a cattle dog slowly follows me from the pub’s shade to watch as I put on my bike helmet and gloves. As I leave it barks twice and chases me for about three pedal turns before bee-lining back to the shade.  It obviously is too much effort.

It doesn’t take long to do a lap around the town.  There are old sandstone buildings, an old church, all the usual for such an historic town.

But what gets me is the bicycles.  There are, for the want of a better word, bicycle carcasses everywhere. Artist John Dynon in particular has a bit of a collection. I didn’t enter his gallery, not knowing anything about him, but now wish I had. There are several art galleries in town, all worth a visit.

 

 

I take a short trail out of town which is billed as a walking/cycling track. My God, how did early cyclists get anywhere? It’s deep sand, and where it’s not that, it’s deep dust. I find myself pushing my bike through the deep sand of a creek bed. How did anyone ever think calling this a cycle track was accurate?

Back on the stop-start track, I almost run over a kangaroo which is laying lazily in the shade of a tree in the middle of the track, refusing to move until the last moment.

I quickly abandon the track for the bitumen highway. I need to get up enough speed to outride the flies. So long, Silverton.

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A tea-tree, perhaps, at the Day Dream Mine, where you can go underground and see the way mining used to be done.

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Odd characters about in the outback, keeping guard of Silverton. See the tangle of bicycles in the background.