The Fascinating ‘Ghost Town’ of Silverton – Part Two

Part Two – but I think there will be more…

More history and photos from the fascinating “ghost town” of Silverton

Silverton Cemetery

This should really be included in the ‘Silverton Part One’ post, as we stopped here just before entering Silverton. There is a road sign that points you to the Silverton Cemetery. So, we went to take a look.

I know what you may be thinking. This may be an eerie place to start our visit to Silverton but I had seen photographs of the place and it just looked bloody interesting. They have even erected a kind of commemorative wall at the entrance to greet visitors.

Commemorative wall that greets visitors
Plaque at the entrance

We have visited Sad Hill Cemetery north of Madrid in the past but that was only a fictional movie set (from ‘The Good The Bad and The Ugly’ – read that post here). That said, I think this place could be used to great effect in movies of a certain genre. there is something about it… It would not look out of place in an old Western movie.

There is something beautiful about the place even though it is also very sad and a little spooky. It is a reminder of just how tough our forefathers had it.  Especially the type of people who founded and settled remote places like this. Not many died of old age. Mining accidents and typhoid claimed a lot of lives.

Not all the graves are old. There was one there from only last year (2019). I took a photo but won’t publish it here out of respect as it was so recent.

Mad Max 2 Museum

Among the various movies that have used Silverton and its surroundings as a location one has stood out more than any other. So much so that two British fans of the movie decided to set up a museum. That film was ‘Mad Max 2, The Road Warrior‘. It was filmed in and around Silverton with many of the several car chase scenes being filmed just a few kilometres out of town at the Mundi Mundi outlook.

The Mad Max 2 Museum
Is that Max in there?
One of the many cars on display – behind fencing for their own protection (of course)
One of the bad guys about to meet his end
One of the many cars on display – behind fencing for their own protection (of course)

It costs $10 to enter but well… when you are this far out why would you not pay and go in?  I think everyone else who visited Silverton that day thought the same as me. It was very a busy little museum. My son obviously had never seen the movie but he enjoyed the museum.

One of the sand buggies from the film
Another one of the bad guys that comes a cropper
This place is a petrol-heads’ dream…

Mundi Mundi Lookout

Just a short ride further on from Silverton is the Mundi Mundi Lookout.

The lookout sits on top of the Barrier Ranges. From here you can stare out across Mundi Mundi Station with views stretching all the way into South Australia. It is a mesmerising sight that gives you some idea of how large this country is. So much space out there…

View from the Mundi Mundi lookout
Another view from the lookout
And another…

Anyone who has seen Mad Max 2 will recognise the long stretch of road ahead from several car chase scenes in the movie. In the opening chase scene Max is seen standing next to the Mundi Mundi sign. Yes, of course I went and watched the movie as soon as we returned. I had only seen it once and that was many years ago on a VHS video rental.

Dani at the sign
The road featured in Mad Max 2

You don’t have to go too far off the highway to run into some real red earth roads either.

Unsealed roads look like this in this part of the world

Silverton Tramway Company

Just outside Silverton, and just visible from the road, lies part of the remains of the Silverton Tramway. You can see a section of the lines along with an old station building and platform.

The Tram stop in the direction of Broken Hill
The rails are still there but clearly haven’t been used for some time
Facing Silverton
The Silverton Tramway station

As the town grew  a railway line was needed to transport the ore mined from the Broken Hill. Broken Hill may be in New South Wales but it is some 1100km from Sydney. However, it is very close to the border with South Australia and only some 500m from Adelaide. In those days the states made their own railways and needed permission to cross into the neighbouring state. The South Australian Government constructed a line as far as the border, but the NSW Government decided against extending the line into their state. Not to be put off, local entrepreneurs formed the Silverton Tramway Company to build and operate the line. And basically just got on with it. They really were a resourceful lot in those days eh? The line opened in 1888 and ran from Cockburn (right on the border), through Silverton and on to the newly discovered Broken Hill. The line operated up until 1970. These days the railway line runs from Cockburn right into Broken Hill (to be shown in a future post).

 

Film Review – Never Too Late

The film I watched at the Roseville cinemas was called ‘Never Too Late’. It is an Australian movie set in a retirement home which houses old war veterans. The actors are mostly Australian but also includes American James Cromwell (playing Jack  Bronson) and British actor Dennis Waterman (Jeremiah).

The movie I went to see

The Plot

An old Vietnam war veteran (Bronson) wants to propose to Norma, who he hadn’t seen for years. Norma thought he had been lost in the war and had gone on to marry someone else.  Now many years after her husband passed away, the two are briefly reunited in a nursing home. Norma is payed by Jackie Weaver, who seems to be in just about every Australian movie or series I watch. That said she is a bloody good actress.

The problem is that Norma is showing early stages of dementia and has been moved to another home so Bronson needs to propose to her while she still remembers him. He tries alone to get out of the nursing home but soon realises he needs help. It just so happens that three of his old comrades are also locked up in the same nursing home and together they devise a plan to break out.

Cromwell’s character is a bit like Steve McQueen’s in ‘The Great Escape‘, trying all ways to escape only to be caught and then held under increasingly stricter conditions.

The four Vietnam war heroes are famous for escaping from a prisoner of war camp. But that was a long time ago and they have learnt that the Hogan Hills Retirement Home is now their new prison. It turns out that all four of the ex-comrades have a good reason to escape the nursing home from hell and they all need to do it before it’s too late. After years apart the old soldiers teach each other that it’s never too late to realise your dreams.

Critique/Conclusions

I will not pretend that this is a great film and that it deserves all kinds of awards. But it is enjoyable and easy to watch despite the fact that it covers some very serious older age issues like dementia, cancer and even death. The film manages to cleverly treat these important matters with enough humour that it would be difficult for anyone not to enjoy – even for those facing similar problems in their family.

I was one of only five watching it and managed to bring the average audience age down to, I would say, about 75. The older viewers certainly seemed to enjoy it, laughing at all the old-age affliction related jokes.

On a five star rating system I would give the movie 3.5 out of 5 and can recommend it as an easy to watch comedy. I suppose it is a bit of a romantic comedy too, with a touch of sadness thrown in. You could even call it a feel good movie.

One last point. The whole concept of the film is based around these old people being held prisoner. Not even being allowed out to visit loved ones etc… That would have seemed a little too unbelievable until recently wouldn’t it? Food for thought perhaps…

The Roseville Cinema

Today I went to check out one of the wonderful old fashioned cinemas that still seem to be surviving here in Australia. The one I went to see is the Roseville Cinemas in the suburb of Roseville north of the city.

Right on the Pacific Highway, north out of Sydney

Historical Cinema Buildings

One thing I noticed very early on here is the relatively high number of old art deco style cinemas that still exist in Australia. I have photographed a few and put them in previous posts. There is something I really like about them. I suppose it’s because they take me back to when I was young and there were still plenty of old style cinema buildings in the UK. This basically includes anything that is not one of these new multiplex, multi-screen modern buildings. But most of all it’s those original Art Deco style cinemas…

Roseville Cinema, Roseville

I had seen this place on several occasions while driving north out of Sydney. It sits right on the (old) main road called the Pacific Highway (or the A1).

The wonderful Roseville Cinema

History

The building was originally constructed in the early 1900’s by Kuring-Gai council as a town Hall for the area. It was used for local dances and meetings. In 1919 after the First World War, it was renamed Traynor’s Picture Palace. The golden age of cinema was about to take off.

In 1936 the building was renovated into the beautiful Art Deco style with a seating capacity of over 500 people. In 1995 it was converted to a twin cinema. More recently in 2011 the ageing film projectors were replaced with state-of-the-art digital technology. Since the art deco renovation it has remained a family owned business. In the early 70’s it was owned by Hans van Pinxteren and his family have been running it for two generations.

Classic Interior

Here you can see the classic interior. Anyone old enough to remember the independent cinemas before the age of the multi-screens will recognise this kind of cinema foyer.

Classic old style foyer.
Fabulous old style ticket booth and “candy bar”

Once inside one of the two screens I spotted a few things you don’t see any more in the modern cinemas.

Old Art Deco detail
The old projector windows

Then I noticed something in the corner I had never seen before. Check this out…

I have never ever seen anything like this.
Inside the ‘Baby’s Crying Room’
‘Baby’s Crying Room’ from the outside

An amazing little room eh?  Can anybody tell me, were these a common feature in old cinemas? Because they weren’t in the ones I used to go to.

Bar Area

This place also has a bar area! Sadly not used much these days but I am sure it will be again soon.

Upstairs bar area – not in use much these days sadly
The movie I went to see

What of the future?

All in all this is a real gem of a place and I hope it manages to stay open in these crazy times. I really can’t see how they can keep going as things are. There were only four other people watching the movie with me. I think a similar amount in the other screen.

How can they survive like that? Are the film distributors hardly charging them for the movies or what?

Hopefully they can all ride the current crisis out and survive. And I hope to visit as many as I can…

Screen 2 at The Roseville Cinema
In need of a lick of paint but who cares? That’s part of the charm (for now!)

Film Review – Trolls World Tour

Ok, I know what your thinking. But it was raining and blowing a near hurricane here in Sydney so we decided to go to the cinema and left the choice of movie up to our six year old boy. There was very little to choose from in fairness but he plumbed for Trolls World Tour.

Apparently this is the second movie in the Trolls franchise by the DreamWorks Animation company. Who knew? Not me. But the very fact that it was made by DreamWorks almost guaranteed that it was going to be good fun.

And so it was.

Generally movies made by companies like DreamWorks appeal to almost any age. Gone are the days of the old Disney animated movies made just (or at least mainly) for children. These days you can be sure that an animated film by either DreamWorks, Illumination (there is a new Minions movie out soon by the way) or Pixar will have enough for parents as well as the kids.
This was the case for Trolls World Tour. As usual the creative talent behind these modern animation films added their own adult sense of humour. It was funny enough to keep this old dad awake and my son enjoyed it far more than I thought he might. Which just goes to show…What do I know eh?

Basic Plot.
Colourful Pop trolls realise that the world is made up of six different types of trolls. Each with their own style of music. There’s country Trolls, Techno-trolls, Funk trolls, Classical trolls, Hard Rock trolls and themselves – the Pop music trolls.

Each tribe of trolls owns their own musical string but the Hard Rock Trolls are invading all the other territories, stealing all the strings as they go. Queen Barb (of the Rock tribe) knows that if they can get all the strings they can unite all trolls as one under Rock! Once the have all six strings they will be able to make some kind of super guitar like instrument and blast out the ultimate power chord. Which…. Spoiler ALERT (see below)! 

Queen Poppy of the Pop tribe takes their string and heads off to unite all the other tribes taking Branch (voiced by Justin Timberlake) with her. And that’s kind of it really. Timberlake is also one of the movie’s producers so there are plenty of daft pop song montages. But none of it is taken too seriously so it is mostly funny. 

What does that ultimate power chord do then?

Well the ultimate power chord changes anyone in hearing range into a hard rock zombie. Wicked eh?

Critique…

Overall it was an easy, watchable, 3 out of 5. Just about. Good fun for the kids and enough comical music stuff for the adults. The whole pace of the movie is spot on and the use of well known pop songs is mostly funny.

The one thing that annoyed me – and this is just a personal thing – was that one of the main characters is voiced by James Corden. I just can’t stand that bloke. Even the sound of his voice. Even typing this… Must stop!!!

That aside however…take your young kids to see this movie.

Birthday Party, Halloween and the Rocks Brewing Company

A busy Halloween day 2020: Dani went to a friends birthday party in the morning then attended a Halloween festival in the rain. Meanwhile his old dad sampled a few beers at the Rocks Brewing Company…

Halloween Day – Birthday Party

One of Dani’s school mates had a birthday party in an amusement arcade. It is located in an odd area of Sydney called Alexandria, which has all sorts of businesses old and new. It’s a weird almost surreal area but there’s plenty going on there. This particular amusement arcade was in a section called Entertainment Square. The amusement arcade is open to anyone but they also organise parties for kids who each get a kind of ‘access all areas’ pass/ticket so they can play on as many games as they like. That’s basically like honey to a bee, or shit to a fly, for kids of that age. Of course they all loved it.

Meanwhile…

Parents could leave their kids and collect them later. The best part was that just around the corner was this place…. The Rocks Brewing Company brewery and tap house…

They had 15 beers on tap. Over half are their own while the others are brews from their partner brewery in Portland, Maine, USA (a place called Shipyard Brewing). I tried a few from each brewery and I have to say they have some excellent beers. Far more to my taste than most that were on offer at the Stone & Wood brewery in Byron Bay (see here).

I couldn’t leave without buying a six pack of their excellent Hangman pale ale. This is not only a tasty beer it comes in one of the best designed cans. In fact all their brews are marketed in a similar way. The mural in the toilet area clearly shows the artistic method of selling their wares. In this portion there’s the Hangman with other beers like Convict and Butcher.

Mural in the toilets!?

Hangman Pale Ale by Rocks Brewing Company, Sydney. A great can design if a little eerie… but it got me thinking (see below)

Halloween Washout

Later in the day we went to a Halloween festival in the entertainment zone near the Sydney cricket ground. It was raining but there were still plenty of people, naturally mainly families with young kids. Most were in Halloween costumes. There was a fun fair which even had some of those scary looking ‘Laughing Clown’ games – just like the one we saw in the old Railway Museum in Broken Hill (see here for that post). There were also several ‘trick or treat’ stations so the kids could (kind of) do a bit of trick or treating. But it wasn’t exactly trick or treat… So, after we left for home and just as it was going dark, we stopped off in a street where we had seem plenty of Halloween decorations. Then it really rained! But there were still a few kids out so we did a bit of trick or treating and got soaked. We could have been trick or treating in the UK. I was expecting it to be too warm this Halloween but there you go…The main thing was that Dani was happy.

Interesting Facts:

The last person to be hanged in Australia was a bloke called Ronald Ryan, back in 1967. He was in Pentridge prison in Coburg, Victoria (which was closed in 1997) serving an eight year sentence for robbing butcher’s shops of all places. The meat trade must have been good in those days as he had to blow up the butcher shop safes to get their money. In prison he met a fellow convict and between them they made an escape attempt. During the escape Ryan shot and killed one of the prison officers who was chasing them. He was recaptured in Sydney and extradited back to the state of Victoria where he was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. 

Following the hanging there were protests by those opposed to capital punishment. By 1985 the death sentence was abolished. Thankfully times really have changed for the better in the state of Victoria. Now you can be arrested there for not wearing a face mask or going for a walk in the park!!  Try protesting against that and… Yep, you get arrested!