About nine vehicles are prowling Chapple Lane, drivers’ heads swivelling left to right, looking for the balloons that mark “the whole house” where “everything must go!”
Another day, I might pause to admire the miners’ cottages with tin fences that are thick in this part of town. But when hunting down the choicest garage sale listed in the paper, a pack of local pros on my tail, one needs to stay focused.
Chapple Lane is no short stroll. It’s about three kilometres long, which takes a bloody long time to drive in second gear. Neither does it amuse with the blithe absurdity of nearby Lane Lane, which, needless to say, is Lane Street’s eponymous sidekick.
On my third lap, doubt starts nibbling at my resolve. Should fang over to the St Peter’s Parish Church sale instead? Head to Wyman Street and hope it’s not only selling tools and workbenches? Is that a balloon? Oh. Painted letterbox.
I’m too early anyway. The ad in Broken Hill’s bible of garage sale locations – the Saturday edition of the Barrier Daily Truth, available from 6am at Coles – specified an 8am start. It’s only just gone 7am now but I’m doing as the Broken Hill bargain-hunters do: fronting up early to scale a back fence or sneak through a side entrance hopeful I will be first to flummox the bleary-eyed vendor into a couple of unfairly swift sales.
Gelignite boxes and irish lace
Balloons unforthcoming, I cut my losses and head to Wyman Street where I happily poke around a large stash of antique furniture, knick-knacks, doilies, wicker baskets and some fetching wooden boxes I assume are planter boxes but am informed once held gelignite used in the mines.
“Where do you keep all this stuff?” I ask the host.
“Oh, I’ve got a shed,” she says, gesturing towards a structure I’d assumed was some sort of light industrial manufacturing plant.
A couple from Adelaide arrives with a trailer and get busy buying and carting out half the sale. In standard Broken Hill style, the one-liners are flying.
“You know you paid extra for the spider webs?”
“We call that ‘irish lace’!”
The 7 to 11 flurry
Between Wyman Street and a church sale I drop by a desultory affair on Bromide Street where the only customer is reminiscing about an estate sale last weekend where “the dishes were still in the sink and the were still in the packets!”
Chapple Lane is teeming when I return. Darn it. It doesn’t exactly look like the “whole house” is for grabs but maybe that’s because I abandoned the lane just before a searching party sniffed out the location, pre balloons.
“How?” I ask the host. She shakes her head in bewilderment.
A bargain hunter chips in. “You told someone last night it was between Buck and Murdoch streets right? People talked.”
I wonder where and when this Chapple Lane confab happened and why I wasn’t in on it. By the time I leave with a Johnny Cash record and a Jean Rhys novel, the sun is mid-morning high. I’ll have to wait until next time I’m in Broken Hill to find out.
If 6am wake-up doesn’t suit you, Broken Hill Community Markets sell second hand goods on the second Saturday of each month in the park off Beryl Street.
First published for Broken Hill Tourism, here.