Broken Hill's historical, natural and artistic heritage
Broken Hill is also known as the Silver City for its interesting mining heritage, its mining boom in early 1900 which saw the birth of BHP and the highest concentration of the lead-silver-zinc deposit ever found in the world, making of Broken hill the world leader production site for iron ore.
However Broken Hill is not a rough and dull mining town in the australian Outback; there is something special about this small Outback town and you will soon feel it. A distinctive artistic beauty blending into the colours, the vastness of the surrounding Outback plains.
How to get to Broken Hill
Broken Hill is located in the Far West Outback of New South Wales, not far from the border with S.A. An isolated Outback town, only 500 km north west from Adelaide, is an easy drive. You can get there by train, from Sydney there are 2 rail journeys operating to Broken Hill, the Xplorer train leaving every Monday morning and the Indian Pacific train leaving twice a week in the evening. From Adelaide you can reach Broken Hill on the Indian Pacific too. The bus and flight connection is available from all major cities. I travelled on the Xplorer from Sydney to Broken Hill the long journey was really worth it, the train goes through one of the most diverse Outback landscapes I have experienced in Australia.
What's special about Broken Hill
Broken Hill is a town that unveils its genuine, unique artistic beauty little by little, you will discover it by strolling through its streets, admiring its buildings and its thriving arts community (with over 30 art galleries). By driving into the vastness of the Outback, by walking the trails you will discover its diverse landscape with fabulous vegetation and wildlife, its magical light and sunsets, its cultural and artistic treasures.
Let's now take a look at the main attractions of Broken Hill.
Broken Hill's Mining Past
The best ways to get a feel of Broken Hill's mining past is to go to the Miners' Memorial and the Visitors' Centre which are located in the city centre on the line of lode. What is the line of lode? It's a sort of plateau made of soil, waste rock, tailings that piled up from the early mines that now crown the horizont all around the city for over 7 km. From the city centre take a walk to the Joe Keenan Lookout where you will have a great view of Broken Hill City and of the line of lode. If its history fascinates you, then you should take the Silver Trail Drive: a 40km drive through the city and its outskirts, covering all major historical buildings, residential areas, lookouts, lakes and minesl. Get yourself a Broken Hill Silver Drive booklet where 118 stops are featured and pick the sites you want to see.
Finally if you want to experience the underground of an old mine, take a drive to the Broken Hill historic DayDream Mine, about 30minutes from the city on the way to Silverton. There are tours of the old mine operating throughout the year which will tell you interesting facts about its mining past.
If you do not want to go underground, then visit the White´s Mineral Art and Mining Museum, where you can have a walk-in mine with mining models, and a video about the mining history of Broken Hill. There is also a great memorabilia and a large exhibition of art works made with crushed mineral by artist Ken White. You can see an example here on the photo below.
The Living Desert Reserve
The Living Desert is a huge natural reserve, located 12 km from Broken Hill. It was established in 1992 with the aim of showcasing the native flora and fauna, thus contributing to the preservation of the local enviroment as well as allowing visitors to safely explore the beauty of the desert and gain a cultural experience as well. It includes different walking trails and sections. The Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, with the flora trail and the cultural and fauna walk trail. And the walk trail to the famous Broken Hill Sculptures. Click here to see more of the Living Desert.
The Broken Hill Sculpture Symposium
One of the highlights in the Living Desert is the Broken Hill Sculpture Symposium, which draw thousands of visitors every year and and has become a true icon for the city. It is perched on top of the Sundown Hill where you can see 12 impressive sandstone sculptures. To learn more about the Sculpture Symposium click HERE.
Silverton – the Hollywood of the Outback
Silverton represents a milestone of this area, located 28km from Broken Hill, some say of Silverton the “ghost town”, well it truly makes this impression at first, with its scattered buildings on the barren landascape. The town has become the set for hundreds of films and tv shows, commercials, photography reports, thanks to its lanscape vastness and the fantastic light reflections, Silverton is also home to some excellent art galleries and museums. Highlights of Silverton are: the Silverton Hotel, the focal point of Silverton where most of films took place, along with Mad Max Museum and the Silverton Gaol Museum which are regarded as the cornerstones of Silverton. I would add a couple more to the list: the Silverton Art Gallery where you can view John Dynon's works and more works of local artists. And the Silverton Cafe with a great collection of antique dolls and beautiful colourful bottles and other memorabilia and also great food.
On the way back to Broken Hill you can also stop at the Day Dream Mine and go underground. Or if you fancy take a camel ride in the outback. Click here to see more beautiful spots of Silverton.
Where to stay in Broken Hill
I was surprised when I found out that there are over 150 places where you can stay in Broken Hill. From hotels, to B&B, cottages, Holiday units, Bungalows, hostels you have a wide choice. Here you can browse throuh all Broken Hill Accommmodation Options