Broken Hill, the Silver Plated City

29 September

Odometer: 3939 km

To get to our closest coffee spot we need to turn right at Gypsum Street, then left into Mercury to avoid the roadworks. Turning right again at Galena, left into Cobalt, then right into Garnett, left into Blende, and then either 1st right into Kaolin or 2nd right into Bromide. No this is not a high school chemistry lab, we are in Broken Hill!

We drove the 270 km from Wentworth to Broken Hill last Friday. There was very little traffic, just the occasional car towing a caravan. The scenery is definitely bush; red earth and green grey bushes. And a tree full of bras about 50 km before Broken Hill on the Silver City Highway, a colourful memorial to a breast cancer victim.

We are now in the Central Australian Timezone (Adelaide time), and the tv channels (ABC, 7, 9 and 10) have changed from Alice Springs to Adelaide.

Broken Hill is Australia’s oldest mining town, dating back to the 1880’s. There are some nice buildings in town reminiscent of those early days. Besides the obvious street names, there are lots of reminders from the early mining days.

Broken Hill 2020 is a medium sized country town with around 17,000 inhabitants. The town is dominated by a massive hill of mining rubble right next to the centre of town. The term Broken Hill refers to the original hill that was mined away completely for its high concentration of silver, lead and zink. The new hill is made up of overburden material from further mining and now reaches similar heights as the original hill.

Lots of houses are for up sale, businesses are empty, weeds are growing wild around the place. Most gardens consist of concrete, red dirt and the occasional weed, or fake grass. It is very empty over the weekend. Life is tough out here. Lifeline, St Vinnies, and the Salvation Army all have a main street presence.

It is also a town that has a Lane called “Lane lane” (yes, well before Boatie McBoatface)! Wide streets, which can suddenly end, it doesn’t feel quite finished.

Naturally we make our way up “the hill” to visit the miner’s memorial. A nice simple sculpture with a great view over town.

We also head to the Royal Flying Doctors (RFDS) base and museum ($12.50 pp for a tour). I didn’t realise that every station or village that is more than 80 km from the nearest medical professional has a RFDS medicine chest, which is provided by the government. Medical consultation with the RFDS via radio may include an instruction to use a particular medication from that chest.

The bush is very very large, and an RFDS aircraft will on average take 1 1/2 hour to get to the patient from any of their stations. That makes one think!

The Pro Hart Gallery ($5 pp) is also a must for any Broken Hill visit. We quite enjoyed our visit, and his painted Rolls Royce is classic. Kevin Charles (Pro) Hart (1928 – 2006) worked as a train driver in the mines and started painting to keep him sane after the long days working underground. He became famous in the 1960’s and has a large and eclectic portfolio.

We bought a 1000 piece puzzle of his dragon fly painting, ready for our next longer town or off grid stay!

And we visit the Sculptures in the Living Desert, around 10 km out of town. It is a nice drive to the top of the hill, a former Wedgetail Eagle Aerie, with a great view over the surrounding desert and Broken Hill in the distance.

There is naturally also a mining and minerals museum.. which I will pay a visit to in the next couple of days. And we will have a drink in the famous Palace hotel, the one with the painted walls inside, featured in the movie “Priscilla”.

  • Best Coffee: “The Silly Goat” in Argent Street, Broken Hill
  • Accomodation: it was very hard to find anything in Broken Hill, as the town is currently overrun by a film crew taping a new series of “the Flying Doctors”. So we are splitting our week long stay over three locations, the Gossan Street AirBnB apartments, the Sturt motel and the Church Presbytery AirBnB. The last is definitely the one to go for!
  • Tip: Best view of Broken Hill is from the hill on which the Sculptures in the Living Desert are placed! Entrance fee $6 pp.

PS the internet is very, very slow here, both phone and wifi! Forget about 5G, we are happy with 4G and a couple of bars! I am having to drop image sizes to get photos loaded at all, yikes!

5 thoughts on “Broken Hill, the Silver Plated City

  1. Still enjoying the blog,look forward to the following installments
    It’s like a different world 🌎, but so interesting,,,stay safe and well xxx


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