Monday, 5 June 2017

AAA Tour - Day 14 - Flying Doctors & Minerals

For nearly 90 years, the inspired desire of John Flynn to provide a "mantle of safety" to Australians in remote areas, has been flying doctors, dentists and nursing specialists to them to protect and save. These days, that service has extended beyond the emergency call for help and includes the provision of an expansive system of clinics run in community centres and the use of motor vehicles.

This all takes money, some of which is provided by State and Federal governments - wages, insurance and running costs. However, replacement equipment has to be met by fund raising and this includes new aircraft. The most common aircraft in the fleet, the Beechcraft King Air, costs $10 million to be fully kitted out and under the usual servicing and replacement schedule for these aircraft, that means three need to be replaced each year.

Somehow they do it or perhaps, somehow we do it, for it is average Australians who do the heavy lifting in fund raising for the RFDS.

This all became apparent during our tour of the RFDS base at the Broken Hill airport. Our guide, Larry, took us through the operational procedures of the service and explained the changes from radio to telephone communications thanks to satellite.

Very, very impressive people.

We returned to the cafe we tried yesterday, The Silly Goat, giving it a chance to redeem its noisy impact on us yesterday. It was a lot quieter today. The coffee was just as good and we also had a fabulous gluten-free, dairy-free lunch.

After lunch we tried to visit West Darling Arts but it was closed. We did visit the Silver City Art Centre and Mint and wished it had been closed. It's the home of the "The Big Picture", a big concave scene of the outback which is 100m long and 12m high, painted by Peter Anderson over the course of two years and using nine tonnes of paint. I guess when you use that much, you know longer measure it in litres. His brother has built the scene in front of it to make it more realistic: hence the plastic kangaroos. The rest of the "gallery" is an exercise in tacky. Elsewhere in Broken Hill, visitors will know what it is that art does in response to its landscape and the integrity of art's interpretation of life.

From this low point, we went to the Albert Kersten Mining and Minerals Museum, also known as the Geocentre. Formerly a Bond store where items were stored awaiting tax being paid on them, it was purchased by the local Council specifically for the museum. It has two very important pieces on display: a 42kg silver nugget and a small tree modeled in silver and originally owned by the man who discovered silver in Broken Hill, Charles Rasp. The geological development of the Line of Load - the large deposit that lies under Broken Hill - is explained well in a short video and there are lots of minerals and crystals on display. In a separate gallery, an exhibition of the artwork of local school children on the theme of recycling and reusing materials was refreshing.

Click to view today's photos
I particularly liked a large video display highlighting individual streets in Broken Hill - mostly named after ores and minerals - and what each of them are.

We finished out the day with communal nibblies and drinks back at the caravan park - an event organised by the park hosts each afternoon. Its a good chance to catch up on things to do and places to stay. I'm perfecting small talk. Its hard.

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