Five Photos, Five Stories: Day 4: Silverton Pub and the Vegemite Painter

© irene waters 2015

© irene waters 2015

Silverton is a desolate spot 26 kms north-west of Broken Hill and these days its population is somewhere between 50 and 60. Originally a silver mining town it is now predominantly a tourist town although it has a thriving arts community. One such artist that I visited was Peter Browne, famous as the Vegemite painter. His paintings when I visited were expensive, so I bought a small one only. In retrospect probably a good thing as Roger doesn’t like the emus as much as I do, however, his paintings have appreciated by around 10% for each year of purchase so happily my expensive purchase is now worth much more.

© irene waters 2015

© irene waters 2015

© irene waters 2015

© irene waters 2015

Imagine living in a place where the single storey buildings are taller than the highest tree, or not seeing a blade of grass, just the bare dirt and where eyes are constantly squinting in the harshness of the sun. This isn’t desert, but is classified as being in the semi-arid zone with an annual rainfall of around 190mm. Silverton is surrounded by land that belongs to no council but rather is Crown Land known as the Silverton Common where you can buy a license to graze your animals. This was set up when they used to walk the beasts to market. What they eat goodness knows, but they have an area of 120,000 acres to find something to munch on.

© irene waters 2015

© irene waters 2015

Peter Browne the artist.

© irene waters 2015

© irene waters 2015

Most of you know the Silverton Pub. If you have seen Mad MaxII, Wake in Fright, A town Like Alice, Dirty Deeds and countless others – then you have seen the Silverton Pub. As well as tourism the town has had a life-saving source of revenue in the making of these productions and of course – in 2010 the mad max museum opened in the town.

My memories of Silverton revolved however around the Vegemite artist and having a drink in the Silverton pub. I’d already embarrassed myself in the Broken Hill Pub by drinking beer through a straw (I wasn’t a beer drinker in those days) so I refrained from doing that again here. Instead, Roger and I had a conversation that had all the patrons joining in and taking sides. Pre-nuptial agreements. For or against. Roger was for, I wasn’t. At this point Roger and I were friends, possibly best friends but we certainly had no thought of marrying, each other that is. We had gone to Broken Hill to visit a mutual friend  and this was purely a philosophical conversation. First the girl working the bar threw in her thoughts and then, the drinkers, one by one ,joined in. Tempers flared in the heat of the day fuelled by schooner fulls of pale ale. Roger and I decided we were best leaving before it got out of control and left them to continue the discussion. Neither Roger nor I have ever mentioned prenuptial agreements since.

Thank you to Norah Colvin who nominated me this challenge. Norah’s passion is childhood education and even if you don’t have children, there is always thought-provoking insightful writing that keeps those grey cells working.

The blogger I am nominating today (with no pressure to join in ) is Tish Farrell. If you wish to participate it is 1 photo a day for five days add a story fiction or non-fiction or poetry, link to the person that nominated you and nominate 1 person each day.

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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15 Responses to Five Photos, Five Stories: Day 4: Silverton Pub and the Vegemite Painter

  1. A very strange kind of art, but I’ve heard of paintings made on an Etch-a-Sketch, from dryer lint, out of coffee grounds, and other strange materials that can’t be bought in an art supply store. Alexander Caldwell made wonderful fish sculptures out of trash found on beaches, reminding us of the damage caused to sea life by careless tossing. I’ve never tasted Vegemite and am certain I’d rather stick with my paints and charcoal pencils. Still, the emu Volkswagon is endearing. I didn’t even see them looking at me at first.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. noelleg44 says:

    What is a vegemite painter? Uses vegemite to paint with? How extraordinary! I did like the emus! And the painter looks like quite a character, fun to engage with.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He was a character. I think everyone of the 60 people who live there are probably characters, you’d have to be. He is known as the vegemite painter as he paints in the colour scheme of vegemite rather than painting it with it. I don’t think my painting would have survived if he used vegemite as one of us would have licked it off.

      Like

  3. I LOVE the emu painting! (And the car…so cool.) I’m with Noelle in wondering if he paints vegemite. O_o

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ChristineR says:

    I’m glad you explained the vegemite connection, Irene. One could easily imagine it really being used to paint those gorgeous emus. The artist has captured their quizzical look! I’ve been to Silverton, just the once. Had a few drinks in the pub, too, but no philosophical discussions. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Charli Mills says:

    Silverton reminds me of the old mining towns in the Nevada desert. In those remaining bars one wouldn’t want to bring up pre-nups, either.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Norah says:

    The emus are gorgeous. Pity Roger doesn’t like them. Glad the nuptials have worked out, even without a pre-nup!

    Liked by 1 person

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