Broken Hill is a remote mining city with a population of around 18,000 people, located in the far west outback of New South Wales. Smack bang in the middle of the Australian Outback, you can experience the best of both worlds – the culture of a country town and the ruggedness of the surrounding landscape.
Since its establishment in 1883, Broken Hill has grown into a place rich with mining history, with tours and museums more than happy to share the tales. There are also art galleries filled with pieces inspired by the area.
- Broken Hill is also known as The Silver City, the Oasis of the West, and the Capital of the Outback.
- It is home to the world’s largest silver, lead and zinc mines, which are operated by the world’s largest mining company, Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited (BHP).
- Even though it is located in NSW, it abides by the South Australian time zone.
- Broken Hill and the surrounding area have been used as the set for a handful of Australian ads, TV shows and films, including Mad Max and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
- Many of the streets are named after minerals and resources that helped support the town, such as Bromide, Silver, Cobalt, Silica.
An English guy called Charles Rasp discovered the Line of Lode in 1883 by accident. He was a boundary rider and while patrolling the Mt Gipps fences, he came across some shiny rocks, thinking they contained tin. The minerals turned out to be silver and lead, and by 1885, his new business, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company had started digging into the ground.
In 1937, BHP exited Broken Hill to make way for other mining companies – a total of 14 over the last 70 years. Pie carts capitalised on the hunger of the miners heading home for the day, serving up the popular ‘sixpenny floater’ – a meat pie floating in green-pea soup with a yeast bun and a bottle of ginger beer.
Because it is located in the outback, the water supply of Broken Hill comes in ebbs and flows. Once the mining business was established and the town began to grow, the state government installed water storage tanks to fulfil the people’s water needs.
By the 1890s, the mining business had blossomed and the population increased so much that they needed to find another water source. Water was transported from the Darling River to stop the community from fighting over the little water they had, and eventually in 1891, a reservoir was built to catch rainwater. Due to occasional drought, water still needed to be brought in from the Darling River from time to time.
In 1952, the demand for a permanent water supply resulted in a direct pipeline from the Menindee Lakes Water Storage System, located about 110km southeast of Broken Hill.
It gets pretty hot and dry in the summertime with temperatures reaching 38⁰C or more. During the winter, the temperature drops to an average of 16⁰C.
Points of Interest
The Living Desert Sanctuary – our mates got married on the Sculpture Site, which was the perfect backdrop to recite their vows and say I DO. The site is about 9km from Broken Hill and there are twelve sculptures completed by various artists from around the world. They are located on a hilltop that overlooks the surrounding landscape.
Pro Hart Gallery – remember that TV ad with the old dude messing up the carpet? “Oh Mr Hart!” Well, the old dude was actually Kevin ‘Pro’ Hart, the great Australian artist that was born in 1928 in Broken Hill. His collections of artwork would sell out so he started travelling the world, meeting a few famous people along the way, but he chose to come back to Broken Hill and set up his gallery. After a long life of colour and creativity, Hart died in 2006.
The Miner’s Memorial – this beautiful place is located on the hill that overlooks Broken Hill, and it commemorates the lost lives of over 800 miners that died working along the Line of Lode. The Line of Lode is what the miners call the underground ore deposit. The building was designed to mimic a mine and there is a viewing platform that extends over the edge of the hill and provides a great view of the city.
Food & Drink
Charlotte’s at the Grand – Had a big night and looking for a decent breakfast? Get your breakfast sandwich from here – you won’t regret it!
Southern Cross Hotel – We hung out here for a few hours prior to the wedding for cold beers and a game of pool. While you can tell that it’s an old pub – it was opened in 1888 – they’ve kept it looking fresh and clean.
The Broken Earth Restaurant – if you’re looking for a dining experience with a view, check out the Broken Earth Restaurant. Accessible only via Federation Way, it is located at the highest point on the Line of Lode with fantastic views of the city.
Visitor Information Centre
The Broken Hill Visitor Information Centre is located on the corner of Blende and Bromide Street – 08 8080 3560
There is a public bus service that runs daily but the city is not huge so there’s no reason why you can’t use your feet.
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