When I returned from my holidays in Broken Hill, I was asked by a Colleague “why would you go all the way down to Broken Hill?, after all what is there to see?”
Honestly, I was disappointed. That statement was a true indication of how much underrated Broken Hill was. However I must agree, Broken Hill is not for every one. Broken Hill is not about the beauty but about the culture and life style of a community which is isolated from rest of the world by the harshness of a mining town.
This is not a place for those who cannot appreciate the concept of limitations.
Well, if you have survived my disclaimers above, great – follow me in the journey.
Broken Hill (also known as Silver City) is a mining town located in the far west of Outback New South Wales, Australia. Listed as one among the iconic Outback locations, Broken Hill attracts travellers to the past glory of a mining town. Historic place of Broken Hill in the formation of mining giant BHP as a merger would signify the humble beginning of this township in the Global Mining Industry.
While driving down from Sydney, the first sight on reaching Broken Hill is the iconic slag heap at the centre of the township which leaves you thinking about the amount of minerals that would have been digged out since its establishment in 1880s.
I reached there in the afternoon after a very long drive from Cobar, another mining town. Dry & dusty roads in the sun made me feel like experiencing an unknown territory. The township had old fashioned buildings, few shops & eateries. Everywhere you look at, it was all about mining. It was amusing to find that even the streets are named after the minerals – Iodide Street, Sulphide Street, Chloride Street etc . I could not help remembering my chemistry classes way back in college!
Here are few things which you can explore while in Broken Hill.
1. Line of Lode Memorial
A short drive from city is the Line of Lode Memorial located at the top of slag heap. The memorial pays its tribute to those who have lost their lives while working under the extreme conditions of the mines. The little boards displayed the name of the people along with the type of accident. It was shocking to find that there were illegally employed kids under the age of 15 among those who got killed in the mishaps.
2. Living Desert & Sculptures
Living Desert is located 9 km away from the Broken Hill and is a predator proof fenced flora & fauna sanctuary where you get to see the animals and plants in its natural habitat . A short little walk with kangaroos hopping all around will take you to the sculpture site.
The sculpture site is another iconic attraction of Broken Hill where 12 sandstone sculptures are erected . The story and sculptor details for each of them are detailed which helps the visitors quite a bit.”The Bajo el Sol Jaguar” sculpture by Antonio Nava Tirado is undoubtedly the most familiar one.
Did I appreciate the art in the sculptures ? – Unfortunately No. May be because I don’t have an eye for the artistic sculptures or may be because I could not comprehend.
- Sunrise or sunset will be the best time to visit as the Broken Hill icon as it provides a lot of photo graphic opportunity
- Living Desert has different open timings during winter & summer. It will be better to check the timings beforehand to avoid disappointment
- There are two car parkings here and one car park is quite close to the Living Desert where as the other one requires almost 1 km walk up the hill to reach the sculpture site
- The sculpture site is quite windy and warm clothing will be appropriate
- There is an entry fee
- A barbecue area is available with gas barbecue
3. Bells Milk Bar
This is a milk bar from 1950’s which is still operational. There are a lot of unique milk shakes, ice creams & cordials which you can choose from – all made within the premises using secret recipes. Enjoy the indulgence while checking out the milk bar museum attached to the cafe where the cafe equipments & photos from the past are preserved. I could not stop appreciating the amount of effort local people have taken in retaining its glory.
Silverton is a small township located 25km away from Broken Hill. Once home to 3000 people, Silverton now has a population of around 60 people partially owing to the establishment of new mines in and around Broken Hill area. However Silverton is definitely worth a visit when you are in Broken Hill. This unique locality is famous for its buildings & its significance in the Australian movie industry, it being one among the most filmed. Also in Silverton, there are few interesting art galleries worth a visit.
Silverton Hotel is an iconic hotel right at the heart of Silverton which offers very limited number of rooms. The location and the style of the hotel, sure is to impress.
5. Mad Max Museum
Dedication & commitment were the two words which came to my mind when I first watched aTV show about the Mad Max museum . How can we ever understand how much influence a movie had on a man to inspire him relocate from England to Australia and set up a museum for collectibles related to Mad Max?.
Unfortunately , i could not visit this museum in Silverton as it was closed.
6. Mundi Mundi Look Out
Mundi Mundi look out is located 5kms away from Silverton and provides you with a breathtaking view of the barren land. The magnanimity of the outback is best visualised once you are here. I was told that even the curvature of earth could be seen from here on a clear sunny day (I could not see though!) . Best time of the day to visit is during the sunset. The sight of parked vehicles, picnic chairs & Australian beer was just the perfect end of my day.
I was intrigued by the sight of a headstone lying in the red soil of Mundi Mundi Look out . It still baffles me, what would have made some one leave a headstone for their beloved in the middle of nowhere – may be something personally relevant to them.. How would I ever know !
7. Day Dream Mine
A Broken Hill trip is incomplete without getting the insight of a mine and hence Day Dream Mine becomes an inevitable part of your itinerary. This is an underground mine and you can get the tours booked in advance. Tour guides are experienced miners who explain the working conditions and operating model of the mines. Also an authentic experience where you have to crawl down like how they did it in olden days.
- Road leading to the mine is unsealed and hence not suitable for non 4WD vehicle
- It is 1:15 mins tour (approximately) & around $32 per adult as of 2015 December
8. Art Gallery
Broken Hill is now the residence of many artists. I did enjoy visiting couple of them going through their beautiful paintings mostly around the mining theme.One key attraction of Broken Hill’s art scene is the world’s largest acrylic painting done by a single artist possessed by the Silver City Mint and Art Centre ( Again i could not see this as it was closed! )
9. Umberumberka Reservoir
This is a reservoir from early 1900’s created to cater to the uninterrupted water needs of Broken Hill residents. Since this was just 9 KM away from Silverton, I did pay a visit however I was not overwhelmed.
- Royal Flying Doctor Service Museum is an icon worth visiting which details what the RDS is all about
- Pro Hart Gallery is also another important attraction which I could not visit.
- Accommodation options are available in Broken Hill as well as Silverton. However Silverton has very limited options and would be worthwhile to check if planning a visit during peak season
Overall it was my first experience in a mining town and yes , I did enjoy it.
Photos in this article are not edited for enhanced visual appearance, but that is how Broken Hill looked to me ! Outback is not always bright red , but dry & dusty too
Have you ever visited a place which is under rated ?Would you visit a place not for its beauty but for its significance ?