Brisbane, QLD

Monday, January 30, 2012


The Visitor Centre
After stopping at Peterborough and Terowie we finally arrived at the town of Burra for our overnight stop on our tour of South Australia with friends. We wanted to stop here because on our last tour by bus through here we only stopped for 30 mins and we were disappointed as it is a very historical town and still alive with about 1,200 residents.
Burra became famous when shepherd Thomas Pickett found copper in 1845. By 1850 Burra had one of the worlds biggest copper mines and saved South Australia from bankruptcy. The mine closed in 1877 but was reopened in 1971 to 1981.

The main street in Burra

Burra is now a State Heritage Area and boasts a big collection of buildings from the 1850's which have not been radically changed. 

Most country towns have an old rotunda.

It so happens that I have an old friend living in Burra. Val and I used to room together when we attended teacher's college (ASOPA) in Sydney. She is also a friend of my avid reader, Colin. They taught in the same village in New Guinea. She owns and lives in this very old hotel called "The Smelters Home" built in 1849. It has 17 bedrooms and was used by travelling sales men to display their wares to retailers.

It is the oldest hotel in Australia with the original floor plan. It is like stepping back into the mid 19th century when you enter this building. Unfortunately, Val is not well enough to continue refurbishments.

We visited the old Burra Burra Copper mine, which started as an underground mine in 1845 but in 1870 it became one of the first open cut mines in Australia. It is full of water now and musical concerts are held by the side of the lake.

Overlooking the old mine.
Besides tourism, Burra is a farming and grazing centre. The surrounding country was cleared of trees to feed the huge smelter during the mining era. 

The rapid development of the mine in 1847 led to a housing shortage for mining families. So the miners excavated dugouts in the steep banks of the creek. They stretched for 3 miles along the creek, housing 1800 people. One third of them children. Due to poor sanitation, disease and floods, they were forced to move into company supplied housing in 1870. There are only a few dugouts left today.

Ouch! They had low roofs. Even though we paid for a key at  the visitor centre, it only allowed us into the property but would not let us go deep into the dugouts as George discovered here.

Ann checks out an upmarket dugout.
It was reported that some had one room and others more. Some had carpets inside and whitewash outside. They had chimneys coming out of the top of the creek bank and some had a porch. They were cool in summer and well protected in winter.

There were many more interesting places to visit but our day was coming to an end and we were heading off to Hahndorf for our next sleep.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


We left Peterborough and continued south to Burra on our South Australia trip with 4 friends. On the way we detoured and called into the ghost town of Terowie. On our last tour here on a bus we stopped at the historic station( see my old post) but we didn't go into town to see the old buildings nor did we stop at the paddock of sculptures. This time we were driving ourselves and so could stop for a nosey around. 
 Just before the old town there is a paddock full of metal sculptures. I wasn't overly impressed except for the long line of old bicycles attached to the fence.

 The buildings are historically significant as they haven't been altered since the 1880's. The town was established in 1875 and became an important rail junction town. The wide gauge changed to narrow gauge here so all trains had to stop. There were big rail yards here. In 1969 the rail gauge was made uniform and so trains didn't stop and the town declined. In 1980 the rail line was moved to the west and and the town died.

 After years of drought the farmers gave up their farms and moved as well. Now there are about 100 people left.

 It is sad to see these buildings not being used, I wonder what will happen to them.

Taken from car window.
 I laughed at the typical Aussie farewell as we headed out of town towards the main road.

 The weather was threatening but it passed over. The next two photos will no doubt annoy my country bred friend Colin as he, like all farmers, hate this purple weed, called Paterson's Curse. Can you see it stretching across the base of the hills? I think it is poisonous for cattle but I'm sure Colin will tell us all about it in my comments.

 However, I think it makes beautiful scenery and photos.

 This is what the farmers prefer to see. Typical Aussie farmland with grain and sheep but no Paterson's Curse.  

Friday, January 27, 2012


The people of Peterborough erected a statue of "Bob The Railway Dog" in memory of this adventurous little dog believed to be a German Collie Dog mix. His story is below taken from Wikipedia.

Bob first experienced the railway life, when, as a young dog, he took a fancy to the railway workers building near Strathalbyn and followed some of the navvies to the line. He was brought back to his owner, the publican of the Macclesfield Hotel, two or three times before finally disappearing; he was about 9 months old at the time.
Bob was, it was believed, picked up as a stray in Adelaide. His true railway career appears to commence not long after he was being consigned from Adelaide along with fifty other dogs to Quorn, to be used to exterminate rabbits. He "broke pack"and was obtained as a stray from the Police in Port Augusta by William Seth Ferry, then working as a Special Guard at Petersburg as Peterborough was then known. Ferry "registered him right away" and is recorded as noting he acquired Bob on 24 September 1884.
Bob was known to travel on trains to and from Petersburg often sitting in the front of the coal space in the locomotive tender, travelling many thousands of miles. According to the Petersburg Times: " His favourite place on a Yankee engine; the big whistle and belching smokestack seem(ed) to have an irresistible attraction for him....he lived on the fat of the land , and was not particular from whom he accepted his dinner"
Every time he heard the train whistle he would run and jump onto the footplate of the engine. Some say he died in Adelaide others say Peterborough. He was 17 years old. His body was displayed in a local pub.
His collar is on display in the National Railway Museum, Port Adelaide, along with photographs and other artifacts. Bob is remembered today by railway workers and historians alike.

The following poem was published in the Advertiser on 17 August 1895:
Home-keeping dogs have homely wits,
Their notions tame and poor;
I scorn the dog who humbly sits
Before the cottage door,
Or those who weary vigils keep,
Or follow lovely kine;
A dreary life midst stupid sheep
Shall ne'er be lot of mine.

For free from thrall I travel far,
No fixed abode I own;
I leap aboard a railway car;
By every one I' know;
Today I am here, tomorrow brings
Me miles and miles away;
Borne swiftly on steams rushing wings,
I see fresh friends each day.

Each Driver from the footplate hales
My coming with delight;
I gain from all upon the rails;
A welcome ever bright;
I share the perils of the line
with mates from end to end,
Who would not for a silver mine
Have harm befall their friend

Let other dogs snarl and fight,
And round the city prowl,
Or render hideous the night
With unmelodious howl.
I have a cheery bark for all,
No ties my travels clog;
I hear the whistle, that's the call
For Bob, the driver's dog.
This post is for Taphophile Tragics #5 meme.

Thursday, January 26, 2012



Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil;
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history’s page, let every stage
Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.
Beneath our radiant Southern Cross
We’ll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.


To celebrate Australia day I would like to shower you with Australian wild flowers.

 Our national floral emblem, the Wattle.

Grevillea and Banksia

Gum blossoms

Kangaroo Paw, Native Frangipani, Native Pea, Flame Tree.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


 We were driving from Port Augusta to Burra in South Australia. On the way we stopped at Orroroo for morning tea (last post) and we stopped at Peterborough to visit the 'Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre.'
Peterborough was settled in 1875. It was called Petersburg but the name changed during WW1 due to anti german sentiment, as were many towns in S.A. They had german names because of the big german migrant population there.

Peterborough is situated in wheat  country and has a population of 1,700. It has an interesting rail history. It used to be on the intersection of the east west and north south rail lines. Both lines were narrow gauge (3'6") until 1970 when the east west line changed to standard gauge (4'8½") and the line south to Terowie was converted to broad gauge (5'3"). (One wonders why this happened) However, it made Peterborough become a triple gauge junction there were three in the country at that time. This meant an awful lot of changing trains when travelling across the country. It also meant that triple gauge turntables had to be built at the junctions. Now most of our railways are standard gauge. When the conversions took place lines were also moved and Peterborough was no longer a junction but the east west line, (the Indian Pacific train) still passes through Peterborough.
On the map you can see Adelaide at the bottom and Port Augusta at the top left. You can see the Pich Richi railway to Quorn.(past post) Peterborough is on the right. The red line is the north, south railway with the "Ghan"train going from Adelaide to Darwin. The blue line is the east/west line with the"Indian Pacific" train going from Sydney to Perth.
 We took a guided tour of the museum.  The triple gauge turntable is still in working order. The roundhouse where locomotives were serviced now houses many different heritage engines and carriages.

 It was well set out museum with easy access to all the engines and carriages.

 Bill and the boys were having fun.

 An early diesel engine.

 They had a variety of carriages this one was the travelling nurse's carriage.

 This one the club car.

It took over an hour to see everything but for an outback town it was a splendid museum.

The centre also provides work for the unemployed who cannot find jobs but are receiving 'the dole' (social security payments.) After so many weeks on the dole they must do some kind of work to continue receiving the dole. So here they  help restore old rolling stock.

Monday, January 23, 2012


We passed an old farmhouse and wagon.
 After spending 3 days exploring Port Augusta, we continued on our tour of South Australia a few months ago. Together with 4 friends we drove on towards Peterborough to visit the Steam Train Museum. However, we stopped on the way for coffee at a charming little country town called Orroroo. The coffee shop was gorgeous with lovely crafts and gifts too.Before we arrived there we stopped at the biggest gum (Eucalyptus) tree.

As we entered the town we were greeted by this great sculpture made from metal strips and their heads nodded in the breeze as if they were really pulling the plough.

Council chambers

The little houses in Orroroo were so cute.

As usual I can't finish a post without a wildflower from the area.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


During our tour of Port Augusta in South Australia we visited the 'Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden' It was established in 1993 to provide an international, arid zone ecosystem, research centre and to provide a wider appreciation of Australia's arid zone flora.The myriad of highly evolved plants are adapted to extreme temperatures and years of drought. They are fragile, complex and they are not found anywhere else in the world.  Here are just a few: