Mines of Broken Hill

Broken Hill, NSW, Australia, 30th March 2015

Back in Broken Hill, I had an hour or two available so I decided to check out some of the artifacts of the mining past.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Landscape, Mining, New South Wales, Photography, Travel

… which is not this image.  This is the big chair, overlooking Broken Hill, about six to eight feet high.  The chain around it is because someone fell off it and sued the Council.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Landscape, Mining, New South Wales, Photography, Travel

As a mining centre, rail was very important to Broken Hill.  There must be something of a repair facility below because there are lots of wheels and axles staked by the tracks.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Landscape, Mining, New South Wales, Photography, Travel

This is the mining deaths memorial, recording the names of over 700 workers.  Broken Hill was a great centre of the labour movement and there were severe disputes in 1892, 1909 and 1919.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Landscape, Mining, New South Wales, Photography, Travel

Slag heap and the town beyond.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Landscape, Mining, New South Wales, Photography, Travel

Coming back down from the hill above Broken Hill, this is an old mine no longer in operation.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Landscape, Mining, New South Wales, Photography, Travel

Taken over the fence of a museum, which was not open at the time.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Landscape, Mining, New South Wales, Photography, Travel This is a working mine but I didn’t record its name.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Landscape, Mining, New South Wales, Photography, Travel

Nearby, this is Browne Shaft, an old mine no longer in operation.  It operated from 1886 to 1928 and 1946 to 1972.  There was a very severe fire 550 feet down in 1906.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Landscape, Mining, New South Wales, Photography, Travel

I went up to the Browne Shaft Mine and from there saw the North Shaft Mine, which operated from 1905 to 1993.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Landscape, Mining, New South Wales, Photography, Travel

Turning around, these great steel vats are at the Browne Shaft Mine and they are visibly sitting on top of the lead lode.  The lead, zinc and silver lodes rose almost vertically through the ground and appeared above it.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Landscape, Mining, New South Wales, Photography, Travel

I then became fascinated by the textures and pattern on the surface of the vats….

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Australia, Broken Hill, Landscape, Mining, New South Wales, Photography, Travel .

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Australia, Broken Hill, Landscape, Mining, New South Wales, Photography, Travel .

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Australia, Broken Hill, Landscape, Mining, New South Wales, Photography, Travel .

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Australia, Broken Hill, Landscape, Mining, New South Wales, Photography, Travel .

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Australia, Broken Hill, Landscape, Mining, New South Wales, Photography, Travel .

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Australia, Broken Hill, Landscape, Mining, New South Wales, Photography, Travel .

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Australia, Broken Hill, Landscape, Mining, New South Wales, Photography, Travel .

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Australia, Broken Hill, Landscape, Mining, New South Wales, Photography, Travel .

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Australia, Broken Hill, Landscape, Mining, New South Wales, Photography, Travel .

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Australia, Broken Hill, Landscape, Mining, New South Wales, Photography, Travel .

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Corrugated Iron Houses of Broken Hill

Broken Hill, NSW, Australia, 26th to 27th March 2015

Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages

On the long drive to Broken Hill, here I am waiting at a road works.  I’m waiting for the trucks and cars coming across the horizon from the right, along the stretch where the road is being rebuilt.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages

Broken Hill is a mining town, founded on massive deposits of silver, lead and zinc that originally came to the surface.  Although it is in New South Wales, it is closer to Adelaide than Sydney and keeps South Australian time.  In 1885 it gave birth to the massive Australian mining company BHP (Broken Hill Proprietary), now BHP-Billiton.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages

One of the intriguing aspects of Broken Hill is the old houses with walls of corrugated iron, dating back as early as the 1890s.  Corrugated iron is a common roofing material in Australia and New Zealand, but not for external walls.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages

There is no wood growing in appreciable quantities anywhere near Broken Hill though stone and brick may have been possible locally.  The original inhabitants of the cottages would have been BHP workers and I presume BHP corrugated iron, produced in Broken Hill, was available to BHP workers at discount rates.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages

Broken Hill is pretty much a desert environment and it gets pretty hot in summer.  Average temperature in January is 33.5ºC (92.3ºF) and maximum January temperature is 45.3ºC (114ºF).  So corrugated iron seems a strange choice, especially in the old days in the absence of air conditioning or evaporative cooling.  One hopes the houses were built with effective insulation but my guess would be that this was not originally the case.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages

This is a corrugated iron house with fetching blue Doric columns.  It is obviously corrugated iron construction from the side but not so obvious from the front, which is plastered.

There is a woman behind the fly screen door who asked “Can I help you?” to which I answered “I’m just taking photographs of the old houses”.   What she was really asking was “What are you doing hanging round in front of my house?  You’d better have a good explanation or I’ll call the cops”.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages

By and large they are humble worker’s cottage that just happen, somewhat curiously, to be built of corrugated iron.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages

Some aspire to be grander than that, which is fine, but somehow faintly comical and incongruous given the building materials.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages

Others have no pretensions and are all the grander for it.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages

Backyards also feature many corrugated iron structures.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages .

Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages

Most are neat and well kept.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages

This one seems to have something of a problem with the roof.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages

This one has elegant plantings of palm trees, one of which unfortunately seems to have died.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages

Clearly, someone of an artistic and creative temperament lives in this one.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages

This one appears very neat with a mainly paved front yard, faintly reminiscent in that to the house in Mon Oncle but probably not in anything else.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages

This is a brick shop on a corner with a plaster facade.  However, the sheds behind it are corrugated iron and so is the awning.  The sides of the awning and the posts are metal and so is the fascia at the top.  The sign at the top says “Microwave TV Video Repairs” but there is a much older sign under that including the word “Repairs”.  Evidentally it used to be a different kind of repair shop.  There were probably older signs under the traces we can see.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages

This store is clearly of corrugated iron construction although the fascia is probably wood.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages

An old house with a new picket fence, as yet unpainted.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages

A pedestrian passes by an old corrugated iron house.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages

Here is a front view of that house, including a wooden fascia.

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Australia, Broken Hill, Corrugated Iron Houses, Landscape, New South Wales, Photography, Travel, Workers' Cottages

Finally, another faded reference to classical Greek architecture and Corinthian columns.

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