Silverton is an historic town about 25 km northwest of Broken Hill. Originally established as a mining town it had a population of about 3000 up to about 1880, when people started to leave to the much richer mines of Broken Hill. Now it has a population of about 50.
There are many attractions around Silverton. The old gaol, the pub, the Mad Max museum. The Mad Max museum is a concentration of macho! Many films have been made around Silverton, because of its historic nature and its outback location. The Umberumberka Reservoir is a few kilometres out of town.
Silverton is set on Silverton Common, a Crown Reserve of about 12 000 acres (4856 hectares). The common has existed for about 125 years, and is administered by the NSW government. Stock can roam on the Common, and in the pic above you can see a couple of brumbies (wild horses), who seem to be doing pretty well. The whole area is semi-arid land.
The Silverton Common is part of an Unincorporated Area of NSW, which is not part of a local council. This Area covers about 93 000 square kilometres and surrounds but does not include Broken Hill. June 2016.
More info on Silverton can be found here.
The road from Broken Hill to Silverton is very rough for a sealed road. (It makes the Sunraysia Highway in Victoria feel smooth, which is an achievement!). There are many dips, or floodways – 39 floodways in the 25 kilometres. This pic shows a dry river bed near Silverton, and also shows why the floodways are necessary. When the rains come flash flooding can be intense. The floodways are necessary to let the water flow.
The water tanks are their only reliable water supply. Just over the river is a large caravan park. Has all the facilities, but looks a bit run down.
The Umberumberka Waterworks Project was built as a complete supply system, consisting of dam and reservoir, steam pumping station, rising main pipeline to a balance tank on Blue Anchor Hill 2.7 km southeast of Umberumberka pumping station, and a gravity main from Blue Anchor Hill to Broken Hill at a distance of 25 km.
Construction of the Umberumberka Reservoir commenced in June 1903 during a period of severe drought. However in August 1903 flood waters swept away the diversion works and the partially completed dam. The project was abandoned. Construction restarted in 1911, with commissioning taking place in 1915. Before that Broken Hill was supplied by the Stephens Creek Reservoir, but this was only a small reservoir which was rapidly becoming inadequate. It was a pretty labour intensive project with about 500 men employed on construction. About 50 000 200 kg drums of concrete were brought to Silverton by train and the last several kilometres by horse and cart.
The landscape is quite rugged, and in the early 1900s must have posed some pretty big challenges for the construction crew. But just as CY O’Connor and his crew built the Perth to Kalgoorlie pipeline in 1897-1902, so George Mullen and his crew overcame the obstacles and succeeded.
There is a memorial to George Sidney Mullen, the supervising construction engineer, at the road end of the wall. June 2016.
More info at Essential Water.
The Umberumberka Reservoir is almost dry. It was built in 1915, more than 100 years ago, and you can see the silting that has occurred. There has been quite some rain in the last few weeks in the Broken Hill region. In November 2010 the reservoir was full to overflowing, so conditions can bring about big changes in a relatively short time.
Australia is a land of droughts and flooding rains. In November 2010 there were roaring floods. by June 2016 the dam was almost dry. It is now November 2022, and the extensive rains over much of the south eastern part of Australia will have the Umberumberka Reservoir full again.
The land is vast and arid and red. But when it rains, the outback floods! The Silverton Road from Broken Hill has its famous 39 dips, which are designed to let floodwaters drain away. The streets of Broken Hill are designed to allow flood waters to drain away quickly.
The road from Umberumberka Reservoir to Silverton snakes away over the Mundi Mundi plains. From the lookout near the reservoir. You can see the barrenness and the isolation of the area.
The Mad Max 2 museum at Silverton is a bastion of macho! Mad Max was one of a number of movies filmed in the Silverton town and surrounding areas. The museum is a vast collection of movie props and equipment. I’m not a movie buff, but I quite enjoyed looking through the collection. They had interesting solutions to the problems encountered in making movies. You realise very quickly that it’s all show and very little substance.
The bonnet scoop on the Charger is an original item which was available off the shelf during the 70s and is made entirely of fibreglass. The grille sections which are based on the centre section of a 50s Buick are aluminium. There is a Ford Interceptor in the background.
Between the Mad Max 2 museum and a café is the ruins of an old building with interesting paraphernalia in the yard. On the verandah was the biggest engineers vice I have seen.
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