Here we sit, awaiting Balranald’s finest and only mechanic to return from a funeral across the border in Swan Hill, bringing with him the part that Nitro Nellie Nissan requires to restore her to health. As luck would have it, the boot and general shearer’s wardrobe store had a sale on Redback Boots this was fortuitous as my own ever comfortable and sturdy pair have sat close to one too many campfires and walked one too many miles and are ready for retirement as their blessed but melted soles squeaked with the sound of split soles.
sue was also able to purchase a mighty fine ‘Hilltop Winter’ proof coat – no doubt developed for shearer wear.
Our buddies and loyal comrades have forged a path towards home ( as we are only really 800 km from home on blacktop).
Shades of 2012 with five relaxing but dusty days in Birdsville, but with one important difference – we should be driving out not flying , this time.
This gives us the opportunity to walk Balranald’s street – which we have done – and to learn about the heyday of Balranald. There as a time when the bars were filled with shearers, the wharves filled with Merinos and the Murrumbidgee chocked with paddle Steamers carting wool, livestock, supplies and people throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s. The town was first gazetted in 1851 but has a much longer history as part of the Mutthi Mutthi Nations.
The first telephone to be used in Australia was installed in the nearby Yanga Homestead. James Cromyn, nephew of Alexander Bell installed it with instructions from his uncle, to allow communication between the homestead and the shearer’s quarters.
Burke and Wills crossed the Murrumbidgee here on September 15th 1860 and set up camp XX just outside of (what is now) town. A mere 20 years later, the town was a riotous throng with a population of 400 so uls, 5 stores and 6 hotels.
More later …….. should we remain…………