Top 9 Things to do in Broken Hill

Silverton

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

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.

Broken Hill Township

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.

Line of Lode Memorial , Broken Hill

Line of Lode Memorial , Broken Hill

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.

Broken Hill icon

Wanderer’s Tip:

  • 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.

4. Silverton

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

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?.

Mad Max Museum

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.

Mound Mundi Look out

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 !

Sunset at Silverton

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.

Wanderer’s Tip:

  • 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! )

IMG_7667

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.

Wanderer’s Tip:

  • 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 ?

Best Things to Do in Broken Hill

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15 comments

  1. Great blog. I personally love mining towns, though I must confess I have never been to Broken Hill. I’ve been to Leigh Creek, Iron Knob and many others as well as heaps of mining ruins. We live five minutes from Moonta Mines in SA and my wife and I go for walks exploring as often as we can.

    1. Thanks Paul. After visiting couple of mining towns even I have started liking it. They do have a unique character.
      Living next to a Mines would be a different experience as well .Hope you are having a good time.

  2. With a name like Broken Hill, it sounds like an inherently sad place. However, I’m so glad you were able to find some gems while there. The Milk Bar sounds like fun and the Mad Max Museum very kitsch!

  3. This is a completely new town to me, so thanks for sharing this. Mining towns are very interesting like this one. The milk bar sounds interesting, as do those museums, it seems very rustic out here!

  4. This is something right up my alley; I love being in the open wide and then there is so much history to the place with its mining past. More than that though the quirkiness and quaintness of it made the amateur photographer in me very interested about it. I can understand that Broken Hill might not interest a lot of people, but there is a certain charm about it that comes across from your writing that makes me really want to explore it.

  5. Broken Hill looks like a great place for a road trip rest stop. The Mad Max Museum would be at the top of my list and I’m pretty sure I’d enjoy one of the milkshakes available at Bells Milk Bar. Would have loved to see what that place looked like 🙂

  6. This is my first time to read about Broken Hill but I bet I’ll ever underate it. The town is obviously not for everyone except those who can appreciate it. I can imagine what it’d look like with the miners going about their daily lifes. I’ll love to visit the milk bar and taste what it feels, surreal, you say? Nice post, you have here.

  7. I know what you mean by it isn’t the sort of place to everyone’s taste. I’ve never been to mining towns but I remember watching this series on Netflix recently that is based in a small mining town, in the 80s and it seemed such a magical, quiet place, far far away from the hustle and bustle of the city life we are all used to. I like the sound of MadMax museum, pity that you couldn’t visit it because it was closed. Also, Living Desert and the sculptures there look nice. Certainly something I’d like to explore if I am ever in that area!

  8. I dont know if I would visit Broken hill if I had little time in Australia but if we had enough time and were on a road trip we would definitely
    visit it.
    Broken hill doesnt sound very exciting but I think one need to go there to have a look to really appreciate such places! To bad that the Mad Max museum was closed, that would have been fun to see!

  9. I agree when you say Broken Hill is not for everybody. To me, it seems quite an interesting place with all those intriguing sculptures in the Living Desert, the milk bar museum, the buildings of Silverton, a headstone in the middle of nowhere and a lot more. The town is definitely a worth visit!

  10. I love going off the beaten path to small historic towns, so I would love this. Especially since I’ve been to Australia twice and haven’t explored much of the outback or desert towns. The milk bar looks like a fun, themed place and I really enjoyed the art – it reminds me a bit of Burning Man. Next time I’m visiting family down under I will pay a visit!

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