Saturday, November 1, 2008

This town is Broken

Right: A reminder of Broken Hill's brave past.

BROKEN HILL, NSW (Sunday, Nov. 2, 2008) – What does a mining town do when the mines run “dry?” Broken Hill, NSW, will have to face this possibility soon and the outlook isn’t good. Founded in the 1880s after a chance discovery of gold, silver and tin, Broken Hill in 2008 has basically worked itself out – the remaining mines are expected to soon exhaust whatever capacity they have left, probably within the next 10 years.

As the Indian Pacific rolled into town about 7 a.m. this morning, the announcement over the train’s PA system noted how Broken Hill officials are going to try to cover some of the gap with tourism. And, I admit, the town has potential. The big wide main street just off the railroad tracks, Argent Avenue, certainly gives the city some charm. The shops on each side give the feeling of a 20th century small town. There are supposedly exquisite art galleries in town, but none of them were open that early on a Sunday.

Below: Downtown Broken Hill.

What’s worse, I can’t find an open wi-fi network anywhere, not even the library. I’m writing this in the dining room of a Hungry Jacks, as it is the only place I could find with power.

Hungry Jacks is what they call Burger King in Australia. If I recall my Wikipedia right, when Burger King first went to expand into Australia, there was already a small shop in South Australia using the name. So they named their business “Hungry Jacks” after the franchisee. Eventually the “Burger King” name came available, but Hungry Jacks was so established by that point they kept the name.

The lunch menu is almost exactly the same as in the United States, although the breakfast menu is a bit different. They serve pancakes and don’t serve croissants, for example. All the brekky sandwiches are on English muffins. In fact, the sausage and egg muffin with single large hashbrown I had this morning was explicitly similar to the offerings at … McDonalds.

I actually slept pretty well last night. We picked up some more passengers in some Po-Dunk outback town (Orange, NSW), and although they took up most of the empty seats on the train, the seat next to me remained clear. I got about eight hours shuteye, despite waking up in the middle of the night and watching some video on my MacBook for about an hour.

1 comment:

Rob said...

Wow, looks just like Small Town USA. Except, why are those cars parked on the wrong side of the street?