Broken Hill, also known as the Silver City, is a frontier mining town in the Australian Outback. With the discovery of Silver ore in its mines, this town shot to prosperity, and it was listed as a National Heritage site in 2015. It was the first Australian city to be given this kind of recognition. This vibrant land’s distinct sights, mining history, spectacular desert landscapes, and Aboriginal sites make it much more than only a small Outback town.
Despite its remoteness, it has many high-quality facilities and several diverse attractions. Dotted throughout the city are gorgeous art galleries in which you can explore and immerse yourself. Its monumental sandstone sculptures are something that you need to see to believe.
You can explore its mining history by visiting the fascinating geology exhibits at the Albert Kersten Mining and Minerals Museum. It has also played a significant role in many popular films. This rich cultural and artistic history lends to the character and charm of this Outback town. As you travel through and explore this distinct town, you will feel at home in the Australian Outback.
Here are the top things to do in Broken Hill.
Where is Broken Hill in Australia
This beautiful mining landmark is the gateway to some of the most breathtaking attractions of the Outback. Its captivating history, beautiful national parks, and stunning landscapes ensure you will never feel bored. Situated in the far west Outback of New South Wales, there are many ways that you can make your trip to this little haven. It’s easy to get there from Adelaide by train, car or bus. But you can also experience a train ride on the Indian Pacific and the Xplorer train from Sydney.
Things To Do in Broken Hill
You might be wondering what Broken Hill is known for. Here are a few of the most exciting and unique things the city offers. So be sure to visit some of these spots and turn your delightful experience into something terrific. First, start your visit at the Broken Hill Information Centre (one of the best in Australia) to grab brochures and detailed information on what to do while you are there.
The Broken Hill Lookout And the Big Bench
The city has a lot of great lookout points that you can explore. A great spot is the JP Keenan Lookout on the hill opposite the Broken Earth Complex. It is a famous Broken Hill Lookout because of the magnificent panoramic view of the town. It also has interpretive signs around the area that tell you about the history of the mines. A short drive away from that lookout point is the Big Bench.
It was constructed in 2002 on top of the Line of Lode as part of a Landscape and Backgrounds exhibition. This gigantic park bench can make even the tallest person feel extremely tiny. It is a unique structure, great for photo opportunities and one you would need a short ladder to get upon.
The Line of Load Miners Memorial
The town hosts the iconic Line of Lode Miners Memorial. It is a dramatically constructed memorial for the many miners who lost their lives while working in the Broken Hill mines. Located atop a mullock heap, this building seeks to evoke images of the damp and claustrophobic environment the miners used to work in. Many people leave floral tributes at this site in memory of the tragedy that took place there.
The Historic Daydream Mine
This archaeological site is located twenty kilometres west of the city. The Day Dream Smelter is also a heritage site due to its significant role in the mining and industrial history of New South Wales. You can take a thirty-minute drive to see the masonry; the chimney remains, and the historic smelter that lies here. Visitors can walk into it as part of the Broken Hill Mine Tour. Once the tour is done, you can visit the Daydream Tea Rooms to enjoy some tea, coffee or scones.
The Broken Hill Sculptures
The town has a splendid collection of twelve sandstone sculptures placed around the summit of a Sundown hill. Since they are situated at the top of the hill, you can get an incredible view of the setting sun, changing colours and adding nuances to the sandstone.
To get up to Sculpture Hill and enjoy a magnificent Broken Hill Sunset, you can walk along the 1.5 km trail from the Living Desert. Or you can drive back past the main entrance of the place, turn left and then proceed for 2 km up to the hill. The 53 tonnes of stone that make up these sculptures are carved from massive sandstone boulders from the Wilcannia region.
Twelve sculptors from all over the world contributed to the sculpture symposium by working tirelessly over six weeks. Each piece has an interesting story to go along with it; here, you can read more about the Broken Hill Sculptures.
The Living Desert and Sculptures
The Living Desert is a magnificent reserve just twelve kilometres away. It is nestled amongst the Barrier Ranges and is a beautiful place with gorgeous typography, wondrous scenery, and fascinating views. You can visit the Living Desert Flora and Fauna Sanctuary within the reserve, which is of geological interest to many. This is a joyful place to get an educational experience and learn about the importance of environmental preservation.
There are numerous walking trails to help experience the open expanses of the Outback, see the native wildflowers, and spot the red kangaroos and the colourful birds that fly by.
You can also take the Flora Walk Trail and see the many native plants and stunning wildflowers. The Sculpture Site is located within the Living Desert and is one of the fantastic Broken Hill attractions you cannot miss when at the reserve. Although the Living Desert does not look too big on the map, you will need at least three hours to marvel at the beauty of this place.
Silverton and the Mad Max Museum
Silverton was born in 1883 when silver and lead were first discovered in the area. The Silverton landscape was once home to miners, and now it is a big attraction for tourists, artists, and film buffs. This is because the Silverton Hotel was featured in films like Mad Max 2, Dirty Deeds, Priscilla-Queen of the Desert, and many more.
The famous Mad Max Museum was also established here. It has various replica cars, bikes, costumes, props, and other incredible memorabilia. Silverton also has many other attractions, like the Silverton Outback Art Gallery. It has a collection of artwork by John Dynon, one of Australia’s most-known Outback Artists.
Nearby is the Silverton Cafe, where you can enjoy delicious cakes and tea while seeing the large antique dolls on display, quirky coloured bottles and memorabilia. I loved this relaxing place. Another famous icon is the eye-catching Silverton Church. It was built in 1886 and featured in many movies and television productions. There are just so many fun things to do in Silverton, NSW.
The Mundi Mundi Lookout
After you visit Silverton, you must be sure not to miss out on the Mundi Mundi Lookout and Plains. It is just a short drive from Silverton and is a spectacular place to see.
It allows you to observe the gorgeous outback colours ranging from red-brownish to golden orange, yellow and green. The plains are so vast and devoid of shrubbery that you can easily see the enchanting curvature of the earth with your own eyes. I have witnessed that myself and I can tell you that it is a jaw-dropping experience.
The Mundi Mundi Lookout is the perfect place for a sunset picnic because of the mind-blowing sunsets you can see from here. The fading light throws dazzling colours into the sky that grow in intensity as the sun dips below the horizon. Needless to say, you better pack your camera if you plan to take some delightful pictures.
You can also stop at the historic Day Dream Mine and visit it underground on your way back. Or, if you fancy, take a camel ride in the Outback.
The history of the Broken Hill silver mine is kept alive through its excellent mining museums. One such gorgeous museum is White’s Mineral Art and Living Mining Museum. The place is where you can experience being underground without actually going underground. It has a realistic-looking walk-in mine with detailed models portraying the town’s mining history.
It even showcases mining minerals turned into splendid works of art. The mineral paintings were made by Bushy White, who spent 26 years working in the local mines. At his exhibition, you can see crushed mineral collage artworks. Visitors also have the chance to watch informative mining videos and purchase minerals, jewellery, and lovely souvenirs.
Another mining museum that you must visit is the Albert Kersten Mining & Minerals Museum. It is also called the Geo Centre and is an excellent representation of the spectacular array of minerals found in the city. You can get information on how the world’s largest silver-lead and zinc deposit was formed here through it.
It houses a renowned collection of local minerals, including the famous Silver Tree, made from 8.5 kilos of silver. It is a beautiful place to enjoy many hands-on exhibits, learn about the science of crystals, and explore captivating aspects of history.
The Broken Hill Art Galleries
The town is also well known for its art galleries, widely found in the city, making it an absolute joy for art lovers. One famous place is the Regional Art Gallery, the oldest gallery in New South Wales.
It was established in 1904 and housed a lot of really sensational artwork. It has works from the Aboriginal Bushmen and a range of contemporary art pieces. The gallery also has touring exhibitions and an annual award called the ‘Outback Open Art Prize.’
Silverton Outback Art Gallery is one of my favourite art galleries, owned by John Dynon. Inside, you can view his artworks, Peter Browne, Justin Cowley, and more famous Broken Hill Artists. Souvenirs, prints and paintings are available for sale too.
Quirky Pubs and Restaurants
This amazing Outback Town boasts an excellent reason to be listed as Australia’s First Heritage City. It is a unique hub of fascinating architecture, mining history, iconic pubs, and cultural landmarks. Many buildings and places still hold stories of their rich and tangible history from when the town began.
The Palace Hotel is one such place and an internationally recognised icon of Broken Hill. It was featured in film history in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. It is an excellent location with dazzling colourful murals that serve as a real visual treat for anyone visiting it. It is another great thing to do in Broken Hill at night.
The Victorian Buildings
You will see The Trades Hall, one of its few Victorian-era buildings in the city’s heart. You will be mesmerised by its colourful stained-glass windows and gorgeous geometric ceilings here. Similarly, The Town Hall is a beautiful, gorgeously ornate space that will take your breath away.
The Broken Hill Post Office has an ancient photogenic clock tower. It was constructed in 1890 and has been a beautiful piece of the town’s history. It has also been instrumental in connecting the residents with the rest of Australia and beyond. Last but not least is The Theatre Royal Hotel, a country pub established in 1886. It played a critical part in the Australian Union and mining history and is one of the few hotel theatre buildings remaining in New South Wales.
All of these Outback spots are fantastic places to see during your trip. You can also go on a city tour for a more enjoyable, informative experience.
How to get to Broken Hill
You can take a smooth drive from Adelaide, only 500 kilometres away. Many people choose to travel by train to enjoy the sights that lie along the way. Buses and flights are also available from all the major Australian cities. Many flights fly into the town’s airport, although buses are less frequent. I visited it on a train journey from Sydney, and I loved it. For sure, there is no shortage of travel options.
If you are deciding to travel by flight, there are great airlines that fly into town. You can use the Regional Express, which has many direct flights at your convenience. There are two daily flights, which can get booked quickly, so you need to be quick. Once you reach the airport, you can book a taxi to take you to the town centre, just six kilometres away.
By Train from Sydney to Broken Hill
Travelling by train from Sydney will allow you to experience some great rail journeys in Australia. You can either go by the Xplorer or the Indian Pacific train. The Xplorer leaves once a week, and it is an awe-inspiring journey through the heart of the Outback.
It will allow you to see the landscape’s spectacular colours, vast forest hills, and grassy plains. From Adelaide, you can easily take the Indian Pacific to get there. The train station is also far from the visitor information centre.
You can read about my experience on the Xplorer train.
From Adelaide to Broken Hill by bus and train
You have the choice of taking many different coaches. They are a cheaper and more affordable form of travel, allowing you to experience all of the Outback views slowly. This is the most authentic experience of the Outback that you can get while travelling besides driving yourself. From Adelaide, you can easily take the Indian Pacific to get there. The train station is also far from the visitor information centre.
By car from Sydney or Adelaide
The drive from Sydney is a long straight drive extending almost 1,150 kilometres. The best time to take a road trip to Broken Hill is from April to early November. The summer is a tough time to travel due to the immense heat. A full week to travel from Sydney is sufficient to enjoy all the exciting stops. While driving from Sydney, you can make a stop at Dubbo.
There is a lot to see on your road trip. You can stop at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo or the Dubbo Regional Botanic Gardens at Dubbo. After that, you can visit Cobar, a beautiful copper mining town. It is an exciting place; you can even take a heritage walk. You can also make stops at Wilcannia and White Cliffs along the way to Broken Hill.
When driving from Adelaide, there are two highways that you can choose from. The first is the Barrier Highway, which is 520 kilometres long and will allow you to see many of Australia’s leading wine-growing regions.
The other is the Stuart Highway, which is a bit longer, extending for 674 kilometres and passing through just one wine region.
Where to Stay in Broken Hill
This Outback Town has an extensive list of almost 150 accommodation options for your travel selection. You do not have to limit yourself to just one kind of living quarter during your journey. There are several bed and breakfasts, cottages, holiday units, bungalows, and resorts where you can stop over and relax.
Here are our picks for accommodation in Broken Hill:
The gorgeous Broken Hill cottages can beat the big city hotels and resorts any day. These cottages are stylish and self-contained. They are the right place for families because they have plenty of space for everyone. Each cabin has a kitchen, laundry room, and other valuable facilities to help you have a pleasant trip.
Many people decide to stay at motels during their journey since they have cosy accommodation at affordable prices. At motels, you can also enjoy their swimming pool facilities, barbecue areas, and well-equipped rooms.
If you want a more homely place, the best accommodation would be a bed and breakfast. You will find many bed and breakfasts peppered throughout this small Outback town. This accommodation gives you a perfect chance for a getaway with comfortable living spaces, kind hosts, and the feeling of being at home.
Best Time to Visit Broken Hill
The best time to visit is spring to Autumn rather than summertime. January to May and September to December are times when you will get the chance to experience a more pleasant climate here. The limited rainfall during this period will allow you to explore its activities and attractions without worry. The busiest months for tourism are around the summertime in January and often in May.
The temperature and humidity are moderate from March to May, with colder temperatures in the later months. The winter is from June to August, and it is a much slower season for tourism. It might be an excellent time to travel if you are looking for lower accommodation costs.
So start planning your visit to Broken Hill, New South Wales. This fabulous destination of Outback Australia will keep you on your toes.
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This post was first published in 2019 and last updated in April 2023
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