Wonderfully Wacky White Cliffs

It’s not a lack of ideas that have kept me from blogging in recent weeks. I have been hectically busy for reasons which may become apparent at some time, and then again, maybe not. But a recent comment on a six year old post warmed the cockles of my heart, and prompted me to reshare it – even those many of my regular followers have read it before. But! What a thrill when a relative of who you have written about takes the time to comment, and praise what you have said. As a writer, for me, that is the biggest reward of all.

The Reluctant Retiree

Day 6 of our Broken Hill adventure (lunch and after)

Whoever said you should “never judge a book by its cover” might have been thinking of White Cliffs, home of Australia’s first commercial opal fields.

On the surface, despite the pretty blue of the sky, the landscape seems a wasteland, a moonscape dotted with craters:

Opal Pseudomorph, source http://whitecliffsopal.com

Below the surface though, are some of the most magnificent opals available, including the unique speciality, the “pineapple opal“, whose correct title is a pseudomorph.

The other thing you will find underground is the people. Not just while mining. Under the surface is where most residents choose to live, in homes they call dugouts (self-explanatory really)Life underground is a year round 22’c (71’F), while up top, temperatures can range from freezing to 50’c (120’F). 

Some businesses must operate above ground though, and we stop…

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25 thoughts on “Wonderfully Wacky White Cliffs

  1. This is beautifully written Gwen! And which person worth their salt, with family overseas has not taken Opal earrings as gifts for their dear ones!! In 2015, the younger son was on his 3 month rotation at Broken Hill and I wanted to visit at the time but it didn’t happen….your post is now an inspiration to do what I missed back then. Enjoyed reading it twice! Thank you!

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    • Thank you so much Shubha. I wrote a series of blog posts on Broken Hill. We stayed eight nights, and went there by regular commuter train from Sydney – a weekly service. We have a great time! Your son must have come home with some entertaining stories. 🙂

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      • While Sanjay worked at the Railways, our annual rail passes went begging. We never got around to using them ( including a discount on the Ghan). But we can take the train now! Be nice to start getting overseas visitors, no motivation is bigger than that. And yes our son did have imany nteresting and some not so interesting stories. He got to go on the Royal Flying Doctors plane to a place where the population is 2. Yes 2!! And what was not so pleasant was that when a patient had to be transported to a bigger city, Adelaide would push it back on Sydney and Sydney would do the same 😦 and there was always a “fight” to be fought for the patient. I hope things have improved since 2015 in that regard.

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        • I doubt it Shubha. Broken Hill is so remote from Sydney that they can barely understand the outback, and Adelaide is already so beset with demands from remote inhabitants that its resources are stretched to the limit in comparison to its population. The needs of the individual becomes subsumed by the process.

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  2. I love this throw back post, Gwen. Michael has always been fascinated with opals and this part of Australia, which is the only reason I knew about it before your post. I marvel at how people adjust the way they live according to the weather.

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  3. Fascinating to read about opals. I remember when our Australian relatives first came to visit us in The States. They brought opal bracelets for my mother, my sister and me. The bracelets were like nothing I’d ever seen before and I became obsessed with opals. Over the years that obsession has waned but I still have my original bracelet and several other pieces which I love. Thanks for sharing this very interesting post, Gwen!

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