Whoever coined the phrase 'the middle of nowhere' must have had Broken Hill in mind, because that's where it was -- and still is, although the Road to Nowhere is now all-weather tarmac. Seven hundred miles due west of Sydney. Three hundred and thirty miles northeast of Adelaide. It sprawls about the low range of lode-bearing hills, and, when I was a child, was dominated by the artificial mountains of skimp, grey silt-like stuff that was left over once the ore was extracted from the mines. Most of the skimp dumps are gone now, reprocessed, when extraction techniques improved, for the ore they still contained. To me the town is all the poorer for their demise.
It was here that the mighty BHP-Billiton, largest resource company in the world, was born. It is also where I first saw the light of day -- although, unlike BHP (Broken Hill Proprietary Ltd.), my appearance in this place at that time was purely coincidental. This collection of stories is a memoir of what it was like to grow up in Broken Hill in the 1950s and 1960s. It was prompted by a question from one of my daughters, who grew up in a very different time and place. 'What was it like?' she asked. 'Back there. Back then.'
(Publisher's note: Spellings and vocabulary are Australian English; a glossary of terms that may be unfamiliar to North Americans is provided at the back of the book.)
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