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Three Rivers Run – Day 6 – Wentworth to Broken Hill

We had a lovely night around the fire, the temperature wasn’t as cool as the past few nights so we roasted a few marshmallows and enjoyed the peace and quiet of our surroundings and our few and far between neighbours.

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Thegoa Lagoon
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The rain has sprouted pretty flowers in the forests

Tash woke up for sunrise and wandered to the river edge and reported back grey clouds so I rolled over and went back to sleep as I haven’t been sleeping all that well. I think its safe to say that she isn’t going to last much longer as my weather/light reporter.

We were starting to get the hang of this holiday thing, so we had a lovely cooked birthday breakfast (cooked by myself!) before packing up and heading off.

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It’s pretty hard this camping thing!

As we headed out of town we couldn’t help but stop at the Lock again.

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Perry Sandhills

Just out of the town of Wentworth is Perry Sandhills. The sandhills cover an area of approximately 160 hectares, and have been formed over the past 40,000 years by wind erosion and are continually shifting due to the wind.

As turned off the main road to head to the dunes i noticed an Roads vehicle sitting on the edge of the road, I’m not sure why but i as we went past them i took a few looks in the mirror, thinking oh boy they probably haven’t seen our camper before and i wondered if they might try to do a ‘once over’ on us. We pulled into the carpark and as i got out of the car i saw the roads vehicle pull up beside us with their lights on and i all i could think was “i don’t have time for this!” … turns out the two guys were keen campers and hadn’t seen our camper before but weren’t quick enough to catch the name, so came after us figuring the dunes were a pretty good guess as to where we headed. It was quite funny in the end and we ended up chatting to them for about 20 minutes and showing them all over the camper.

We explored the dunes for a little while enjoying the beautiful sunshine but knowing it was time to move on.

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As the dunes have shifted and grown they have engulfed the trees.
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It’s quite a sight from the top looking out over the farms and back to the town.
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The weather watching being King of the Dunes
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The boys are also enjoying the trip.

We had a quick lunch stop down by the river.

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Being self-sufficient makes life on the road a little easier.
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Bunne Rungee Rest Area, Great Darling Anabranch Bridge

Broken Hill

We were headed for Broken Hill and by the looks of it straight into a decent storm. Thankfully we managed to skirt round the edge of it.

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The storm we skirted around the edges of.
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Silver City Highway heading into Broken Hill.

We headed out to the racecourse once we arrived in the Hill to set up camp. We headed back to town and up the hill to the The Line of Lode Miner’s Memorial. It is also a symbolic and spiritual representation of the human tragedy of more than 800 deaths since mining commenced in Broken Hill in 1883. The Line of Lode is the ore body that bisects the town.

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Memorial with the town behind.
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Line of Lode Memorial
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The memorial to the 800 or more miners who lost their lives working along the Line of Lode.

The views from the memorial are pretty spectacular.

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Broken Hill
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It’s a little strange seeing green and not a big red dust bowl.

Silverton

With sunset closing in on us, we decided to take a very quick trip out to Silverton. With only a week of holidays and lots of closed roads, we have had to take the long way around and we were now working out our priorities and unfortunately Silverton this trip drew a short straw.

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Silverton Municipal Chambers
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The famous Silverton pub
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An old church at Silverton
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One of the old Silverton relics

I was hoping for a sunset but it wasn’t to be.  The clouds off Mundi Mundi lookout looking out across the plains were pretty sweet.

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Mundi Mundi Plains.
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Soweto'd

We headed off this morning buoyed by our red bus experience in the CBD yesterday. Today we were setting off to explore Soweto an English abbreviation – South Western Townships.

We stopped at FNB Stadium – Soccer City – home to the Soccer World Cup. Its an awesome stadium and i was bummed that we only got a a quick outside look at it.

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Soccer City

From here we headed into the heart of Soweto.

I had been into Soweto once before in 1996 in a tightly controlled visit with a friend of the ‘family’ i was staying with. Its a visit that has stuck in my mind for many reasons and i was keen to revisit.

Unfortunately by this time, in my opinion the tour guide was a pretentious arrogant little muck that was more concerned about making sure we knew that he was middle class, lived next to a well-known South African singer chose to still live in Soweto like he should have a medal and that millionaires chose to make Soweto their home.

I have seen the shanty towns, the slums whatever you might want to call them, i had been into Alexandria and Soweto before, i had been to the creche’s that support HIV/AIDs orphaned children in Alex and in rural areas so i know the pure poverty and lack of water and sanitation that exists. i also know that these have not miraculously disappeared – have they improved absolutely, are there now areas of middle and high class that could be slotted into other Jo’Burg suburbs absolutely, but to spend almost the entire 2 hours of the tour focused on which millionaire lives there, what they own and how Soweto doesn’t need Jo’Burg because we have car yards and malls was complete rubbish.

We drove past tin shack areas, we drove through areas where the huts don’t have water and sanitation, so for me to completely disregard and gloss over these disrespects the struggles and triumphs of others that have come before and what they have achieved for Soweto and South Africa and for those that are still there struggling, trying to make ends meet, sitting on waiting lists for new housing or just trying to get by.

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Orlando Power Towers
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Orlando Stadium

We stopped at Hector Pieterson Memorial where we greeted by a community volunteer – ie not being paid by the tour company but you are handed over to them, and expected to put your hand in your pocket for their ‘speech’ on the memorial – I’m sorry but i hate this, if the tour company wants to use locals with local/history knowledge then pay them and if we like them we can tip them!

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Hector Pieterson Memorial

We then stopped at Nelson Mandela’s house – but the tour didn’t give time to go through, you needed to stay with the community guide at the memorial the stop before – only no-one told us that, so all of us on the tour wanted to go into the museum for Mandela’s house but couldn’t. The bus driver then suggest we walk down the block to Tutu’s house, and wouldn’t you know when we get there, there are some dancing zulu boys, again with cap in hand. By this time i was pretty pi*sed, this wasn’t a tour it was a set-up and the loathed “Africa”.

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Soweto Hotel

For me the tour should have had a mix of the poverty/low class, the middle class and the high class. it should have show cased a world renown teaching hospital in Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital, reportedly the worlds third largest hospital and a hospital that supports several million people, the shebeens and the real people.

The renowned shebeens i would have thought to be a vital part of any tour into Soweto. Historically shebeens have been located in townships as an alternative to pubs and bars, where under apartheid, indigenous Africans were barred from entering pubs or bars reserved for those of European descent. Shebeens also provided music and dancing, allowing patrons to express themselves culturally. They are now legal in South Africa (well most anyway) and have become an integral part of South African urban culture. We were really looking forward to having a beer and feed in one so to not even come across one was very ordinary.

So overall i was extremely disappointed and pretty annoyed at the tour, it became apparent that this tour has latched onto the other red bus but is not directly part of the “hop on hop off” enterprise.

So that’s my rant over .. if you want to know some history of Soweto and why we would be interested in going there keep reading if not stop here!

The history of South African townships south west of Johannesburg that would later form Soweto was propelled by the increasing eviction of black South Africans by city and state authorities. Black South Africans had been drawn to work on the gold mines that were established after 1886. From the start they were accommodated in separate areas on the outskirts of Johannesburg, such as Brickfields (Newtown). In 1904 British-controlled city authorities removed black South African and Indian residents of Brickfields to an “evacuation camp” at Klipspruit municipal sewage farm (not Kliptown, a separate township) outside the Johannesburg municipal boundary, following a reported outbreak of plague. Two further townships were laid out to the east and the west of Johannesburg in 1918. Townships to the south west of Johannesburg followed, starting with Pimville in 1934 (a renamed part of Klipspruit) and Orlando in 1935.

After the Afrikaner-dominated National Party gained power in 1948 and began to implement apartheid, the pace of forced removals and the creation of townships outside legally designated white areas increased.

In 1956 townships were laid out for particular ethnic groups as part of the state’s strategy to sift black Africans into groupings that would later form the building blocks of the so-called “independent homelands”.

Soweto came to the world’s attention on 16 June 1976 with the Soweto Uprising, when mass protests erupted over the government’s policy to enforce education in Afrikaans rather than English. Police opened fire in Orlando West on 10,000 students marching from Naledi High School to Orlando Stadium. The rioting continued and 23 people died on the first day in Soweto, 21 of whom were black, including the minor Hector Pieterson, as well as two white people, including Melville Edelstein, a lifelong humanitarian.

The impact of the Soweto protests reverberated through the country and across the world. In their aftermath, economic and cultural sanctions were introduced from abroad. Political activists left the country to train for guerrilla resistance. Soweto and other townships became the stage for violent state repression.

In response, the apartheid state started providing electricity to more Soweto homes, yet phased out financial support for building additional housing.

In Soweto, popular resistance to apartheid emerged in various forms during the 1980s. Educational and economic boycotts were initiated, and student bodies were organized. Street committees were formed, and civic organizations were established as alternatives to state-imposed structures. One of the most well-known “civics” was Soweto’s Committee of Ten, started in 1978 in the offices of The Bantu World newspaper. Such actions were strengthened by the call issued by African National Congress’s 1985 Kabwe congress in Zambia to make South Africa ungovernable. As the state forbade public gatherings, church buildings like Regina Mundi were sometimes used for political gatherings.

In 1995, Soweto became part of the Southern Metropolitan Transitional Local Council, and in 2002 was incorporated into the City of Johannesburg

Many parts of Soweto rank among the poorest in Johannesburg, although individual townships tend to have a mix of wealthier and poorer residents. In general, households in the outlying areas to the northwest and southeast have lower incomes, while those in southwestern areas tend to have higher incomes.

The economic development of Soweto was severely curtailed by the apartheid state, which provided very limited infrastructure and prevented residents from creating their own businesses. Roads remained unpaved, and many residents had to share one tap between four houses, for example. Soweto was meant to exist only as a dormitory town for black Africans who worked in white houses, factories, and industries. The 1957 Natives (Urban Areas) Consolidation Act and its predecessors restricted residents between 1923 to 1976 to seven self-employment categories in Soweto itself. Sowetans could operate general shops, butcheries, eating houses, sell milk or vegetables, or hawk goods. The overall number of such enterprises at any time were strictly controlled. As a result, informal trading developed outside the legally-recognized activities.

By 1976 Soweto had only two cinemas and two hotels, and only 83% of houses had electricity. Up to 93% of residents had no running water. Using fire for cooking and heating resulted in respiratory problems that contributed to high infant mortality rates (54 per 1,000 compared to 18 for whites, 1976 figures.

The restrictions on economic activities were lifted in 1977, spurring the growth of the taxi industry as an alternative to Soweto’s inadequate bus and train transport systems. These taxis line the streets and suburbs of Jozi and are renowned for their creative hand signals signalling where they are traveling too as well as their driving skills and rules 🙂

Copyrighted. All images and rights are reserved by Emma White ~ Photography. You are welcome to post via a direct link. Please do not crop, copy, reproduce or distribute in anyway without permission. If you would like to use any of my pictures – for personal, blogging or commercial usage – please contact me so that we can discuss what  options may best suit your needs. If you have any other questions, please drop me an email here

 

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BHP Muster Point

As part of the local photography group that i am a member of – Sundance – we often have organised outings on the weekend. This particular weekend it was the site of the old BHP Steelworks here in Newcastle.

The steelworks closed in 1999 after about 84 odd years in operation and represented a significant change for the city of Newcastle, in many different ways. It represented a shift away from blue collar jobs and an image of a dirty industrial city located on the river, to a thriving metropolitan centre that has diversified in ways many people back then would never have dreamed possible. The closure was hailed by many as a very bad decision and by others the best thing that could happen to the city.

The steelworks were a very dangerous place to work and during the time the steelworks were operating there were an estimate 840 deaths but that is an estimate only, as records for the very early days are limited and many deaths went unrecorded and certainly unpublished/announced.

In 1997 artist Julie Squires was commissioned to build the Muster Point sculpture for the closure of Newcastle’s BHP Steelworks in 1999. The sculpture reflects on the experiences of the tens of thousands of people who worked at the plant over the 84 years of operation.

The Muster Point is made from more than 70 tonnes of BHP steel, the eight-metre high sculpture (measuring 8m x 12m x 8m) is an imposing structure. The exterior has a stylised representation of the BHP skyline encased within the design element of a BHP maintenance shop. The inside has many representations of what it was like to work at the steelworks, the people, the unions and the connection with the city.

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We were also able to explore what remains on the site, which is very little as much of it was bulldozed very quickly once the plant closed in 1999.

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The remaining administration building shows beautiful architecture of the time and a sharp contrast to the dirt and heat that the men would have been working in not far away.

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If your Newcastle, i would recommend trying to see if Aub Brooks is able to show you around the muster point, all money raised by his tours are going towards building a memorial to those that died, a tribute well over due. (Their Facebook page is probably the best way to get in contact re tours – https://www.facebook.com/muster.point.31/timeline

The full set of photos can be seen here.

Copyrighted. All images and rights are reserved by Emma White / The Whiteview Photography. You are welcome to post via a direct link. Please do not crop, copy, reproduce or distribute in anyway without permission. If you would like to use any of my pictures – for personal or commercial usage – please contact me so that we can discuss what  options may best suit your needs. If you have any other questions, please drop me an email.