Waking up to a day just as hot as the scarily intense one that met us at the Walls of China at Lake Mungo, we set off from Mildura, heading north to Broken Hill. Our first stop, however, was only a short distance from Mildura: the Perry Sandhills. According to various tourist guides, these beautiful red sand dunes are frequently used for films and commercials, and served as a bombing range during World War II – it’s remarkable how many beautiful parts of the Earth turn out to be perfect for testing bombs. These dunes consist of amazingly soft, red sand and practically beg to be photographed. Clearly an early morning or late evening shot is required to bring out the rich orange of the sand, but in the middle of the day the over-bright sunlight that we experienced gave the dunes a beguiling mixture of harsh dryness and gentle softness.
A few hours driving north from the Perry Sandhills took us to Broken Hill, one of Australia’s most famous mining towns. Although it was by far the more successful mine and town, for beauty it’s Broken Hill’s next-door neighbour, Silverton, that steals the limelight. Silverton was founded when, coincidentally, silver was discovered in the area, and so confident were the prospectors that many substantial and sturdy buildings were constructed for homes and businesses, churches and pubs. Unfortunately the minerals quickly ran out and attention turned to the suddenly much more promising Broken Hill area twenty-odd kilometres to the east. The investment in Silverton was so great that many of the buildings are still standing today, although some only as shells. We arrived as the sun was setting, providing beautiful light that played gloriously with the brick and stone skeletons that remain.