Saturday, March 06, 2004

Comet Mine

I finally had the opportunity to visit Marble Bar again, and after checking around the camp and doing whatever needed doing I set off down my track, it was early morning, well about nine, and it was a pleasant drive down the dirt to the highway. I didn’t see much traffic until I got close to the Coongan river, just a few kilometres before the hills there I came up behind a road train, he was talking to his friend who was a few kilometres in front of him, I tried to talk to him about overtaking, but even though I could hear both of the trucks they couldn’t hear me, must be a dodgy hand piece or maybe I had pushed one of the buttons that I shouldn’t have, anyway as the road was a bit windy I decided to stay behind him through the Coongan hills., I managed to shoot a few snaps as I followed the truck through, it was through the windscreen, that was none to clean, but hopefully the pictures will come out somewhere half decent. As soon as I had navigated the hills and I was on a straight stretch, I passed the road train, caught up with his mate and went by him as well, past the Bamboo turnoff and onwards towards Marble Bar, slowed down as I came to the Bar and poodled through the town, turned down the Hillside road, and after a nice little run came to the Comet mine after a few minutes.

The comet mine is no longer working but has a little museum, and a couple of houses, I drove into the drive way, past a couple of pieces of old machinery, and pulled in behind a Pajero parked at the house that looked lived in. A nice looking woman came out and welcomed me,, and she said the magic words, the kettle is on. Terrie her name was and I had spoken to her on the telephone, so she was expecting me, we had a nice cup of tea, and she told me that her gas bottle needed changing and she was having trouble changing it, or else she would have baked a cake for me. After we had a cup of tea, I changed the gas bottle for her, and we drove up to the museum past a few old vehicles and pieces of machinery, I was in heaven.

Somebody had taken a great deal of trouble setting out the approaches to the museum, I am not sure what the building used had been, but it has a small flat attached to it, just a one bedroom affair but very solid and homely, a huge double bedroom and a bit of a lounge running onto a well set out kitchen. The main room of the museum was crammed with all sorts of bits and pieces from the days that the mine ran, Ginger beer bottles and such along with a variety of rocks from the local area, all cut and polished, some hats for sale, and some locally made, tasteful souvenirs, none of that mass produced tat that is so common in most of these touristy places. There were also some wonderful photographs of life in the area.
I moved outside, where I was bombarded with some wonderful paraphernalia, old engines, underground cages, and a variety of tools and equipment that had been used in the mine over the years, there were bonnets from a variety of trucks and a five cylinder Gardiner marine engine that had probably come from an early Atkinson truck, along with kibbles, tackles, winches and so many different things that are dear to my heart, even an old fuel bowser with gallons and pounds, shillings and pence on it. I moved on down the hill and came across an old truck, almost complete, it had been a six wheel tip truck and as it had another Gardiner engine still in it, I would assume this was also an Atkinson lorry, there were some plates on the firewall saying that the chassis held several British patents, but I was unable to determine the exact make of vehicle, further down were several trailer mounted generators, one of particular interest was made from a Perkins diesel engine with a David Brown gear box coupled to a generator, I should imagine this would give a varying current depending what gear it was run in. and then down the bottom of the hill was an old Allis Chalmers bull dozer sitting like a sentinel at the gate. This more or less finished the museum part of the tour that the general public is allowed to see. At this stage I suggested that Terrie and I should drive into town and have some lunch, she suggested that she made some here but I insisted so off we went on the seven kilometre jaunt into town and found us some lunch.
I will post this now and continue with the rest of my day as a second instalment.

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