The mining town of Broken Hill is unlike any other place you’ll ever visit. Here Australia’s pioneering past mingles with the colourful contemporary, and for a city seemingly in the middle of nowhere, there’s more than enough to keep you occupied. Spend some time in The Hill and you’ll discover why people regularly come for a short visit and never leave. The town is full of friendly welcoming people, there are plenty of bars and restaurants, mobile phone reception is no problem around the city, and it is easy to navigate (that is, providing you switch the GPS system off – or at least ignore the machine’s insistence that overgrown dirt track is your best route from Sydney). Click here to see some of Bells’ favourite attractions.
Spend some time in The Hill and you’ll discover why people regularly come for a short visit and never leave.
Everywhere you look, the heritage value of the town is evident: wide streets are fronted with impressively restored buildings in the main CBD precinct. Move away from the centre, and you’ll discover an eclectic mix of stone and tin miner’s cottages in various states of repair (many have taken advantage of the local council’s paint restoration and heritage grant scheme) glittering in the brilliant, artist-attracting late afternoon light. Indeed the sunsets here are among the best you’ll see and a short drive will find ample viewpoints for the sublime.
Once night time hits, drive 2kms out of town and you’ll be struck by the unbelievably bright mass of stars twinkling beneath the ink-black sky. The town is famous for mining, (BHP was founded here in 1883), industrial relations, (the unions first flexed their muscles here in the massive strikes of the early 1900s), and art, (the late Pro Hart and his fellow Bushmen of the Bush exhibited all over the world, countless films and TV commercials have been born from the made-for-the-screen surrounds over the years).
Sometimes it seems like everyone in Broken Hill is an artist. In reality, the town has one of the highest proportion of artists per capita in Australia with around 30 commercial galleries in operation year round and hundreds more serious painters, photographers, sculptors and a growing number of new media and video artists who call Broken Hill home. Check out
The name of Australian mining giant BHP actually stands for Broken Hill Proprietary and the famous ‘syndicate of seven’ who started the company effectively founded a town. The lode of Silver found in Broken Hill turned out to be so rich and pure that the whole town sprung up around it without regard for the fact that it was built on top of a mine. As such, modern Broken Hill hugs the old mulloch heap or ‘line of lode’ as it is officially known. It is impossible to visit Broken hill and not be confronted by the massive mining history of this place. Check out the history of mining in the area at the Albert Kersten Mining and Minerals Museum.
As with many industrial towns, the city has a long history of strikes and other union unrest and Australia owes most of the current ‘standard’ working conditions to the miners of Broken Hill. Up until late 2009, the town even had it’s own special award – the County of Yancowinna Award which was separate from all other states and territories. In the days gone by, the town was more or less totally controlled by the unions. If you went to work on a union badge day, you couldn’t w
ork unless you were wearing your badge. If a union ‘Blacklisted’ your business for any reason, members were forbidden from shopping there, effectively stifling your trade.
Check out the official Broken Hill Tourist Website HERE or call into the local Visitor Information Centre for a full list of things to see and do in Broken Hill.
Broken Hill Attractions
There is so much to see and do in the ‘Fabulous’ Far West of NSW. The area incorporates Broken Hill, Silverton as well as Corner Country, Wilcannia, Menindee, and the SA bordertown of Cockburn. Below are a few of our favourite local attractions. Please let us know if you think any others should be added. (Click here to submit your suggestions).
Zinc Lakes (AKA Twin Lakes)
Originally built by the Zinc Corporation, these ‘Twin Lakes’ are all green grass, kids playgroun
d, ducks to feed and a mining backdrop. The perfect place to enjoy a takeaway Bells drink. Wentworth Rd South Broken Hill.
Royal Flying Doctors Base
Enjoy the modern tourist facility, discover the amazing story behind the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and take the only tour of an operational base available in Australia. Click here for more information. Broken Hill Airport. Ph (08) 8080 3714.
About 10kms along the Tibooburra Rd, this walking trail gives you an intimate walk through the hills behind Broken Hill. The car park is about 2kms along a pretty dodgy dirt road so high clearance is recommended and the trail takes around an hour to complete. Tibooburra Rd
Take advantage of our clean air and low light pollution to ‘hang out with the stars’ in Broken Hill with Outback Astronomy and get your own guided sky cruise of our Milk Way Galaxy and beyond. Racecourse Rd Ph 0427 055 225 or visit the website for more info.
The Palace Hotel
Made famous for it’s role in the Pricilla Queen of The Desert movie, The Palace is as quirky as it gets. Check out the painted and eccentric interior. Open for accommodation and the restaurant bar opens regularly with live music on weekends. It is also home of Broken Hill’s Two Up School, which is one of only two places in Australia that you can legally play Two Up year round. 227 Argent St. Ph (08) 8088 1699. Made famous for it’s role in the Pricilla Queen of The Desert movie, The Palace is as quirky as it gets. Check out the painted and eccentric interior. Open for accommodation and the restaurant bar opens regularly with live music on weekends. It is also home of Broken Hill’s Two Up School, which is one of only two places in Australia that you can legally play Two Up year round. 227 Argent St. Ph (08) 8088 1699.
The Railway Museum
Located across from the Visitor Info Centre and housed in the former Sulphide St Railway Station, this is more than just a train museum, featuring a varied and accessible collection of the Broken Hill history including hospital museum, migrant museum and a whole lot more. Ph. (08) 8088 4660.
The Silverton Gaol
Though this old gaol now houses a collection of historical artifacts including a pro hart piano, the original intention of the building is never far from your mind. Look out for the old morgue and body bath. Silverton HWY (on the left as you come into town).
The Silverton Hotel
The Silverton Hotel is one of the most recognisable pubs in the country. It has been featured in countless TV commercials, films and magazine shoots. Also famous for ‘The Test’. Silverton HWY (on the left as you come into town).
Mad Max Museum
Another Silverton Attraction, the Mad Max Museum is home to a comprehensive (and growing) collection of Mad Max memorabilia from the classic Australian film, Mad Max 2. Click here for more info including the remarkable story behind how Adrian Bennett and his wife Linda ended up half way around the world to pursue his passion for all things Mad Max. Silverton.
No visit to Broken Hill is complete without a side trip to the marvelous Menindee Lakes region situated an easy hour’s drive from the Hill. The lakes form a vital part of the Murray Darling river system and the amount of water in them varies, but regardless of the levels, the lakes are well worth a visit any time. Year round you’ll find more different species of birds than Kakadu National Park and history dating back further than Burke and Wills’ ill-fated expedition long before Broken Hill was discovered.