Odometer: 4159 km
Only 25 km outside Broken Hill is Silverton. This is the original silver mining town. Broken Hill Proprietary Company (BHP) was founded here in 1885, the year silver mining peaked here.
However, after the discovery of the much larger Broken Hill silver deposits, Silverton slowly declined to the sleepy hamlet it has now become. It is a nice little place to visit with a focus on historical buildings and quirky artists and a couple of dozen inhabitants.
Silverton is famous for its Mad Max museum, dedicated to the Mad Max 2 movie that was shot here. There is also the Silverton Hotel, and there are a number of small galleries dotted around the village.
As with other old pioneering towns, our trip includes a visit to the local cemetery. A slow stroll between the cracked headstones, standing in the red desert, takes us back to the early days of pioneering. When child birth, epidemics and accidents led to many premature deaths. Very quiet and very serene.
To get back to the main village we follow the unsealed road which goes across the local creek. It is slowly drying up after the recent rains, there are some amazing gum trees here!
Before heading back to Broken Hill, we visit the Mundi Mundi lookout, just 5 km outside Silverton. From this point you can actually see the curvature of the earth, and the Flinders Ranges in the distance across the Mundi Mundi plain. Very impressive.
The other movie synonymous with Broken Hill is “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”. The Palace Hotel plays a big part in this movie and it still organises the annual “Broken Heel Festival”, indicating that “Life outback is never a drag” (pun intended). We admire the murals with a cool beer and a gin & tonic. (Fossey’s lime desert flavoured gin, it is amazing!)
We had seen the signs for “Heritage Drive” around Broken Hill, and I went off to the Visitor Centre to get a map. I must admit that we often just use Tripadvisor instead of going to visitor centres….
So we followed the “Broken Hill Silver Trail Drive”, which took us around some of the less visited areas of Broken Hill, including the Brown shaft of the Junction Mine. This mine is on a site that was pegged in 1884 and produced silver from 1886 until 1972. It still has a wooden head frame, a mill and an ore bin in place. You can see a bit of the ore cap-rock at surface here. If you ask me, this place was more interesting than the miners memorial!
- Best coffee: Still The Silly Goat, 425 Argent Street in Broken Hill
- Accomodation: Outback Church Stay (book via AirBnB), stay in a converted 1911 Baptist church, it’s Presbytery or the cottage.
- Also worth visiting:
- The Albert Kersten Mining and Minerals museum has a great collection, a very good movie explaining the geology of the area, and is housed in an amazing heritage building.
- Have a spider or a milkshake at Bells Milkbar on Patton Street, stepping straight back into the 1950’s.