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Broken Hill, NSW

Legendary labour town and outback city at the edge of the desert.

Broken Hill, or 'The Silver City' as it is sometimes called, is a city forged out of a hill that was almost pure silver, lead and zinc. It is a mining town on the edge of the desert at the central-western edge of New South Wales which is worth visiting because both the city and the surrounding area have so many attractions that it would be easy to spend a week exploring the area and not exhaust the unique mixture of ancient Aboriginal culture, vast desert vistas, famous movie locations, mining experiences, contemporary art galleries and desert sculpture parks while learning about one of the most unionised towns in the world.
Perhaps the most memorable feature of Broken Hill is that it is only a few minutes from the desert no matter which direction you travel. It is a city surrounded by red soils, grey scrub, impossible flatness and intensely blue skies that make the world seem larger and more dramatic.
To add to the experience, many of the streets are named after metals, minerals and compounds, or after mine managers, leading citizens and civic leaders. The town is now the centre of the 16-million hectare West Darling pastoral industry and the city is literally an oasis in the desert which can get blisteringly hot in summer and drop below freezing at night time in the winter months.


Broken Hill is located 304 m above sea-level on the Barrier Range in the far west of New South Wales. It is 1,144 km west of Sydney via Dubbo and Cobar and only 48 km east of the South Australian border.


Origin of Name

Although the town's name sounds like a recent invention it actually dates from 1844 when the first Europeans - the explorer Charles Sturt and his party - passed through the area. Sturt noted the unique shape of the hill and referred to it as a "broken hill" in his diary. Sturt also named the Barrier Ranges - simply because they presented a barrier to his explorations.


Things to See and Do

Historic Buildings
Most of Broken Hill's notable buildings are in Argent Street and the Civic Group is regarded as a particularly fine example of a concentration of public buildings. It is worth walking down Argent Street and noting the highlights including:

Post Office
Located at the corner of Argent and Chloride Streets, this red-brick building (1891), was designed by Colonial Architect, James Barnet. The Heritage of Australia describes it as "the main body of the structure is subservient to its massive tower which stands on the corner of Argent and Chloride Streets and around which is wrapped a footpath veranda with corner balcony supported on paired timber columns. The square tower is capped by a decorative mansard roof and houses four clock faces."

Town Hall
Next door to the Post Office, as the central part of the Civic Group, is the extraordinarily ornate Town Hall (1890-91). The Heritage of Australia describes it as "designed by Adelaide architect Whittal in the Victorian Classical Revival idiom and built of stone ... it features an open veranda on two levels with projecting porch and balcony. The first of the truly ornate structures to grace the streets of Broken Hill, it has strong historical associations with the city's founder, Charles Rasp.

Police Station
The Police Station (1890), complete with a cell block at the rear, is a simple Victorian public structure which replaced an earlier tin shed in which the prisoners were chained to the floor although it is claimed that if a female prisoner was present the men were chained to the station fence outside.

Technical College
The Federation-style Technical College (1900-01) with its large, arched windows and ornamented entrance was designed by W.L. Vernon and W.E. Kemp. It was built to meet the apprenticeship needs of the local mines. It now a TAFE college.

Court House
The dignified and unpretentious Court House was built of stuccoed brick in 1889. It was designed by Colonial Architect James Barnet. The Heritage of Australia describes it as "typical in design of late Victorian courthouses, it combines an unadorned two-storey pedimented front with single-storey side wings, flanked with deeply recessed verandas supported on paired timber columns, and a hipped roof. The symmetrical composition is dominated by the two-storey court room, the entry to which is heralded by a fine coat of arms at window level." In the court house grounds is a sculptured bronze war memorial depicting a soldier throwing a grenade. It was created by sculptor Charles Webb Gilbert who died a week before its unveiling in 1925.

Palace Hotel
There are a number of historic hotels in the city but the most famous and most impressive is the three-storey Palace Hotel (1889) with its long verandas and its beautiful cast-iron balustrades. Anyone who has seen the movie Priscilla, Queen of the Desert will immediately recognise it.

Trades Hall
Nothing symbolises Broken Hill more than its deep and enduring commitment to the union movement. With its highly ornate facade, stained-glass windows and geometrically patterned ceiling the Trades Hall (1898-1905) is a monument to the importance and status of the union movement in this union city. There is a long and detailed history of the building which starts "The Trades Hall is Broken Hill's most historically important building. It is the first privately owned Trades Hall in the Southern Hemisphere. Built and paid for entirely by the people of Broken Hill, it stands as a proud and fitting monument to all workers, past and present.
"Of the old buildings that have survived in Broken Hill, the Trades Hall stands out, not just in architectural terms but because history was made within its walls and on the streets outside. The Trades Hall has been the home of the union movement in Broken Hill since it was built in 1905." For more information check out https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=5045422.

Sulphide Street Railway & Historical Museum
The old sandstone railway station, at the corner of Blende and Bromide Streets, opposite the Visitor Information Centre, was built by the Silverton Tramway Company to replace the original iron and timber station (1888). The building was closed in 1970 but it is now "four museums for the price of one: the Broken Hill Migrant Museum, the Hospital Museum, the Ron Carter Transport Pavilion and the Triple Chance Mineral Collection." It is also home to a range of railway attractions, including the Silver City Comet and a selection of restored gems from the Silverton Tramway Company. It is open from 10.00 am - 3.00 pm daily.

Synagogue of the Outback Museum
A wonderful commentary on the rich multiculturalism of mining towns, Broken Hill has both a mosque and a synagogue. The local publicity suggests that the synagogue, now a museum, is the most isolated Jewish museum in the world. Certainly it is only one of two (the other is the mining town of Ballarat in Victoria) rural synagogues in Australia. The synagogue closed in 1962. It is located at 165 Wolfram Street and is open Monday, Wednesday and Sunday from 10.00 am - 3.00 pm. For more information check out http://www.brokenhillaustralia.com.au/about-broken-hill/local-factbook/synagogue-of-the-outback-museum/ or tel: 0439 680 944.

Australia's First Mosque - the Afghan Mosque
Broken Hill's Afghan Mosque is located in Williams Street and is recognised as Australia's first mosque. It was built in 1891 by a small group of Muslim camel drivers from Afghanistan and India on the site of a former camel camp. Importation of camels had commenced in 1840 and the first Afghan camel driver, Dost Mahomet, accompanied Burke and Wills in 1860. The mosque's alcove points to Mecca. In 1968 the Broken Hill Historical Society renovated the building. It can be opened for inspection by contacting the Broken Hill Visitor Information Centre, corner of Blende and Bromide Streets, tel: (08) 8088 9700

Parks, Museums and Galleries
Sturt Park and the Titanic Memorial
Sturt Park was gazetted as a reserve in 1895 and became known as Sturt Park in 1944. It is a pleasant place to have a picnic but its main appeal lies in its unusual Titanic Memorial which was erected in memory of the bandsmen of the Titanic who kept playing in the hope of maintaining calm while the ship went down. The broken column is not an unrepaired accident but an ancient Greek symbol of being cut down in youth. It was erected by the members of the Broken Hill Band who felt that the courage of the band on the Titanic deserved to be recognised.

Riddiford Arboretum
Riddiford Arboretum in Galena Street (opposite the Centro Shopping Centre) features trees and shrubs from the region as well as Broken Hill's (and South Australia's) floral emblem, Sturt's Desert Pea. The arboretum was named after Walter Riddiford, mayor of Broken Hill from 1949 to 1962. In terms of its flora it is really "a tribute to Albert Morris, a self-taught botanist who was responsible for establishing the regeneration reserves around the city. The plants in those reserves hold down the local dust."

Albert Kersten Mining & Minerals Museum
The Albert Kersten Mining and Minerals Museum is located in the old stone Bond Store building (1892) on the corner of Crystal and Bromide Streets. It includes displays of minerals from the surrounding area, a display which recounts the geological history of the earth, a display covering the history of the town and its mines, a large mineral collection, and the famous 'Silver Tree' (a sculpture made with 8.5 kg of silver by a German silversmith, Henry Steiner) which was purchased by Charles Rasp to furnish his house in Adelaide. It is open Monday to Friday from 10.00 am - 4.45 pm. and on Saturday and Sunday from 1.00 pm - 4.45 pm.

Silver City Mint and Art Centre
The great claim of the Silver City Mint and Art Centre is that it is the proud owner of the World's Largest Acrylic Canvas Painting. It is 12 metres high and 100 metres long and was painted by one artist. The centre also has an on-site silversmith and an interesting mineral display. It is open from 10.00 am - 4.00 pm seven days, tel: (08) 8087 4292.

White's Mineral Art & Living Mining Museum
White's Mineral Art and Living Mining Museum, run by Bushy White, is located at 1 Allendale Street and features a walk-in mining stope (an excavation site); collages made of crushed minerals depicting mining equipment; local historical buildings and landscapes; and the legend of Sturt's desert pea. It is open 9.00 am - 5.00 pm daily, tel: (08) 8087 7884.

Art Galleries
Broken Hill's artistic heritage started in the 1960s when Pro Hart championed a group of local, vernacular artists who became known as the "Brushmen of the Bush". The group consisting of Pro Hart, Eric Minchin, Hugh Schulz, John W. Pickup and Jack Absalom. Although diverse in their style they were all self-taught and specialised in distinctly Australian subject matter. Today Broken Hill has more galleries than any other inland town or city in Australia. Not only does it have an excellent Regional Art Gallery with works by Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, Clifton Pugh and Lloyd Rees, but it has literally dozens of private galleries where the "school of Pro Hart" (ie lots of brilliant blue skies, harsh red dirt and scrawny trees) are sold to visitors.

Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery
The Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery, located at 404-408 Argent Street, is the oldest regional art gallery in New South Wales and the second oldest art gallery in Australia after the State Gallery in Sydney. It started in 1904 when George McCulloch (one of the founders of BHP) donated three paintings. It was officially opened that year by Lord Northcote, the Governor-General of Australia. The collection was originally housed in the Technical College Museum and moved to its current site in 1970. The gallery includes traditional, modern and Aboriginal works. It hosts regular travelling exhibitions.  It is open Monday to Friday from 10.00 am - 5.00 pm and 11.00 am - 4.00 pm on Saturday and Sunday. tel: 08-8080 3440. Check out http://www.bhartgallery.com.au/ for details of travelling exhibitions.

Pro Hart Gallery
Pro Hart, the most famous and successful of the Brushmen of the Bush, died in 2006 but The Pro Hart Gallery still sells his art work, books about his life, and other souvenirs. It is located at 108 Wyman Street and is a popular tourist attraction. The gallery has Hart's distinctive Rolls Royce (he painted it with a typical Pro Hart design) outside and features a collection of Australian and European works and one of the largest pipe organs in Australia. Although he was never admired by the art establishment it was Germaine Greer who best summed up his importance when she wrote: "What makes Hart special is his unbreakable connection with the Barrier country of far west New South Wales. His bush scenes are not just illustrations of outback life: they glow with the unforgettable light of the inland. His gangling twisted feather-top trees are portraits of the acacias and casuarinas that refract the raking sun of the desert edge in a luminous haze. The vegetation system of Menindee and the Barrier Ranges is called acacia loderi woodland by naturalists and it is, like all such systems in Australia, now under threat. The syncopation in the replication of their gnarly boles is the genuine rhythm of the Murray-Darling and Hart could draw it in his sleep." The gallery is open 9.00 am - 5.00 pm weekdays and Sunday 1.30 pm - 5.00 pm, tel: (08) 8087 2441 and (08) 8088 2992 or check out http://www.prohart.com.au/.

Jack Absalom's Gallery
Jack Absalom's Gallery, which attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year, is located at 638 Chapple Street. Absalom was one of the most important members of the Brushmen of the Bush (second only to Pro Hart) and his work, while not being popular with the art establishment, is seen as a unique expression of the world of Broken Hill and the outback. For more information tel: (08) 8087 5881 or check out http://www.jackabsalom.com.au/about.htm.

Royal Flying Doctor Service - the Bruce Langford Visitor Centre
Visitors who want to learn about the history and the workings of the Royal Flying Doctor Service can visit the Bruce Langford Visitor Centre which includes the Mantle of Safety museum, a theatre where a film is shown to visitors and a shop with displays and souvenirs. It is situated at Airport Road, Broken Hill Airport and is open from 9.00 am - 5.00 pm Monday to Friday and 10.00 am - 3.00 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Check out http://www.flyingdoctor.org.au/ for more information.

School of the Air
The School of the Air is a unique outback experience where children on outlying and isolated properties participate in a classroom which, in the case of Broken Hill, covers over one million square kilometres. You can inspect the school and listen in to a class. Bookings can be made at the Broken Hill Visitor Information Centre, corner of Blende and Bromide Streets, tel: (08) 8088 9700.

Joe Keenan's Lookout
Joe Keenan's Lookout is located in Marks Street and offers an excellent view of the city and the line of lode.  It was named in honour of Peter Joseph Keenan, President of the Barrier Industrial Council from 1969 to 1985, and city Alderman from 1953 to 1962.

Line of Lode Miners’ Memorial and Visitors’ Centre
The Miners’ Memorial and Visitors’ Centre were completed in December 2000.  The structure was designed by architects Chris Landorf and David Manfredi and is a symbolic and spiritual representation of the tragedy of more than 800 deaths from mining accidents at Broken Hill.  The site on the edge of the tailings provides a dramatic vantagepoint for visitors offering an excellent view over the city.

The Story of Charles Rasp
The early history of Broken Hill is the story of Charles Rasp, a boundary rider at the Mt Gipps station, who discovered what he thought was a mountain of tin at the 'broken hill'. The samples he took contained silver chloride and he claimed 16 hectares. On advice from George McCulloch, manager of Mount Gipps station, he formed a syndicate of seven and they pegged the whole ridge mainly to prevent a rush from other miners. For some time the syndicate had little success but the discovery of a rich ore lode in January 1885 led to the establishment of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company which effectively owned one of the world's largest known silver-lead-zinc lodes. Rasp and his colleagues made vast fortunes (they owned 14,000 of the company's 16,000 shares). The ore body was a continuous arc 7 km long and 220 m wide. Only recently has it been revealed that Rasp was actually born in Saxony as Hieronymous Salvator Lopez von Pereira. His grandfather was Portuguese aristocracy. His father became private secretary to a German prince, moved to Saxony, married a German woman and died while being pursued by the Rothschild family. Both father and son sought to obscure their identity by changing the family name.


Other Attractions in the Area

Of all the outback towns nothing compares to Silverton. It has been the site for numerous films (which is why Mad Max's black car is now located prominently in front of the Silverton Hotel), it has a large number of interesting historic buildings spread sparsely across the desert, for decades it has been the home to a number of desert artists, and it is only a few kilometres from both the spectacular Mundi Mundi Lookout and the Day Dream Mine, the only mine in the region which is still open to the public.

The 24 km road from Broken Hill to Silverton, although sealed, rates as an "outback experience". It boasts no fewer than forty-nine dips.

For over thirty years Silverton, partly because of its wonderfully raw and historic ambience and partly because it is so close to the creature comforts of Broken Hill, has become the film location of choice for over 140 movies and commercials. The rush to use Silverton's harsh landscape started in the wake of Mad Max II in 1981 although it had been the setting for Ted Kotcheff's 1971 classic, Wake in Fright. Since Mad Max II the town and the Mundi Mundi plains have been used in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Razorback and Dirty Deeds. It has also been a setting for the Royal Flying Doctor and The Dirtwater Dynasty TV series.

There are a couple of dozen buildings in Silverton and, with the obvious exceptions of the churches and halls, most of the buildings are occupied by art galleries and cafes. Still nothing quite matches the Silverton Pub. Built in 1885 as the town's post office it has long given the entire town a sense of fun. At various times it has had horses and camels parked outside and these days it boasts the car from Mad Max. Inside, which is crowded on weekends and during holidays, the walls have a rich photographic collection recalling the films that have been made in and around the town.

Mundi Mundi Lookout
Equally impressive is a dawn or sunset view from the Mundi Mundi Lookout which lies a few kilometres beyond Silverton. You feel as though you are standing on the edge of the world because beyond the lookout the desert seems to stretch, low and flat and barren, to a distant, blurry horizon. There is nowhere else around Broken Hill that is so easily accessible and yet so totally barren and harsh.

Day Dream Mine
Located 33 km north-west of Broken Hill, between Broken Hill and Silverton, is the only mine still open for inspection in the Broken Hill area. Day Dream was discovered in 1882, opened in 1883 and by 1884 there were some 500 people living in the area. Today it is nothing more than a café (Devonshire teas are their specialty) and a hole in the ground. What is remarkable about the mine is that, because it was worked by hand, it really reminds visitors of the extraordinary hardships the early miners had to endure. The hole in the ground is so narrow that you spend most of your time bent over nearly double and the dark, steep tunnel where the miners had to carry the ore to the surface on their backs is daunting when you are carrying nothing heavier than a hard hat and a miner's light. The tour takes one hour. You can either make a booking at the visitor's centre or just turn up any time between 10.00 am and 3.30 pm seven days a week.

Living Desert Sanctuary
The Living Desert is located 12 km from Broken Hill (you can download a brochure with a map at http://www.brokenhillaustralia.com.au/explore-and-discover/local-attractions/living-desert-and-sculptures/) on the northern outskirts of town along Nine Mile Road. It is a 2400 ha reserve which was established in 1992. It includes the Sculpture Symposium (see below), a flora and fauna sanctuary protected by a predator-proof electric fence, Aboriginal sites, panoramic views, story poles, a geological site, bird hides and a number of walking tracks.

Sculpture Symposium
The Sculpture Symposium is 13 km out of town. Located on a hill above the city it is the product of a decision, back in 1993, to invite sculptors from around the world to create sculptures from the local rock. Twelve international sculptors each worked on their own Wilcannia sandstone boulder without power tools for 14 hours a day, every day for 8 weeks.  The result is twelve large sandstone sculptures that seem at once to have been hewn from the landscape while always remaining in harmony with their harsh, desert environment. To see them at sunset, when the last rays of the setting sun burnish them and turn them golden, is unforgettable.

Mutawintji National Park and Mutawintji Historic Site
Located 130 km north-east of Broken Hill, Mutawintji has some of the best, and most accessible, Aboriginal rock art in New South Wales.

While the Aboriginal rock art is the highlight of any visit to the park, it is still worth exploring for its flora and fauna, its history and its dramatic desert landscapes.

The National Parks website lists nine places, apart from the Historic Site, which are worth exploring. They are all detailed at http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/parks?keyword=Mutawintji%20National%20Park and include self-guided walks of varying length and difficulty through shaded gullies, open ridges, dry sandy creek beds, historic Aboriginal and European sites, pleasant rock pools and some truly sublime desert scenery.

The Bynguano Range walking track is a difficult, 7.5 km, 5 hour walk through valleys and gorges where you are likely to see the yellow-footed rock wallaby, kangaroos and emus as well as corellas, falcons and wedge-tailed eagles. It is necessary to contact National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Office, 183 Argent Street, Broken Hill, tel: (08) 8080 3200 before you start the walk.

The Homestead Gorge Trail is an easy 3.75 km one way (7.5 km return) 90 minutes (3 hours return) walk along Homestead Creek. The cliffs on either side are red and the caves have been used by Aborigines for tens of thousands of years. It is possible to see wallabies, emus, lizards and corellas, falcons and wedge-tailed eagles on the walk.

The Mutawintji Gorge Walk is an easy 6 km return walk which takes around 3 hours. It leads up the gorge to a peaceful and beautiful pool which is surrounded by dramatic red cliffs.

The Rockholes Loop Walking Track is a short, steep and difficult walk which is a 5.6 km loop. It will take around three hours. The National Parks website describes the walk as "Strolling along the creek lined with river red gums, you’ll discover an array of Aboriginal rock art and engravings amongst the maze of overhangs and rock faces. This area teems with wildlife and is home to the only known colony of the endangered yellow-footed rock wallaby. Reaching the top of the steep ascent, soak in the scenic desert views over the rugged Homestead Gorge and the fiery red Bynguano Range. Picnic beside the dark and mysterious rockpools before heading back." It is necessary to contact National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Office, 183 Argent Street, Broken Hill, tel: (08) 8080 3200 before you start the walk.

The Thaaklatjika Mingkana Walking Track leaves from the main parking area, is only 800 metres each way, is easy and lasts around an hour. It crosses the dry plain and heads up the side of a hill to Wrights Cave, known as the Thaaklatjika overhang, where there are impressive Aboriginal paintings, stencils and engravings. The walk is edged by river red gums and it is possible to see corellas, budgerigars and zebra finches. It is interesting to note that the European name, Wrights Cave, comes from William Wright, one-time manager of Kinchega Station, who was hired as part of the Burke and Wills expedition because of his knowledge of the local area. He was widely blamed for the tragedy that befell the expedition when he failed to meet the party as arranged at Cooper Creek.

There is also a worthwhile drive through the park. A section of the park was originally part of Mootwingee Station and there are remnants from the pastoral era. The Old Coach Road Drive (10 km) takes in the ruins of Rockholes Hotel, Gnalta Lookout and some amazing rock formations.

The park's 5-million-year-old quartzite and sandstone gorges have acted as water catchments and have provided a reliable source of water. Consequently the reserve contains Aboriginal material dating back some 40,000 years, including paintings, stone arrangements and other artefacts. Parts of the park were handed back to the traditional owners in 1991 and the rest was handed back in 1998.

The desert wildlife in the park includes falcons and wedge-tailed eagles, euros, skinks, frogs, snakes, emus, kangaroos and lizards. The insect eating sundew plant can also be found amongst the flora.

For more information contact National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Office, 183 Argent St, Broken Hill, tel: (08) 8080 3200 or check out http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/parks?keyword=Mutawintji%20National%20Park.

Mutawintji Historic Site
While it is possible to explore the park on your own it is always best to take a tour guided by a local Aboriginal expert who will explain the ancient paintings and stencils on the walls of Thaaklatjika (Wright's Cave) as well as providing an informed commentary on some fine examples of Aboriginal engraving. If you want to inspect the Mutawintji Historic Site and the Aboriginal art you have to take a guided tour. It is not open for individual inspection. Check out http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/NationalParks/parkTourOperators.aspx?id=N0217 for details



* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area had been occupied by the Wiljali Aboriginal people for an estimated 40,000 years. The lack of reliable water meant they were itinerant rather than permanent residents. In recent times the Barkindji people have moved into the area from the lower Darling River.

* In 1844 Charles Sturt and his expedition became the first Europeans to see the Barrier Range. Sturt was responsible for naming the future town. In his diary he referred to a 'broken hill' and he coined the term Barrier Range because of the difficulties the rugged hills presented to his progress.

* In 1860-61 Burke and Wills, trying to cross the continent and reach the Gulf of Carpentaria, passed through the area. They stayed at Menindee and stopped at Mootwingie Station.

* By the 1860s pastoralists were in the district. The land was marginal and difficult. Supplies had to be shipped up the Darling and then hauled overland by bullock teams.

* Mount Gipps station was taken up around 1863.

* By 1867 there were gold prospectors in the area.

* In the mid-1870s Henry Raines took up the Mootwingee lease.

* In 1883 Charles Rasp, a boundary rider at the Mt Gipps station, discovered what he thought were tin deposits at the 'broken hill'. It was later discovered that he had found the largest known silver-lead-zinc deposit in the world.

* In January 1885 a rich vein of silver was found by a syndicate following Charles Rasp's discovery. Later that year Broken Hill Proprietary Company (BHP) was floated on the stock exchange.

* By 1886 the township had been surveyed. At the time it was a typically chaotic mining town with one description recalling that  "Argent St was a huge dust heap, filled with hotels and flimsy offices and saloons. A two chain wide road knee deep in dust, and crowded with men from all the earth, selling at tremendous prices shares in alleged mines." At the time the ore was smelted in Broken Hill.

* In 1888 Broken Hill was declared a municipality. That same year, while the New South Wales and South Australian governments were arguing over a railway line to the town, the locals formed the Silverton Tramway Company and built a line to the South Australian border. It became the most prosperous private railway in Australia.

* By 1891 the population of the town had risen to 20,000. Unsanitary conditions, lead poisoning and death from typhoid and dysentery was commonplace.

* Strikes became regular events. In 1892 a protest at the use of scab labour saw union leaders imprisoned.

* By 1898 all ore extracted at Broken Hill was being transported to Port Pirie to be smelted. That year saw the first publication of the Barrier Daily Truth, a paper owned and run by the Barrier Industrial Council. A rare union-owned paper.

* Between 1898 and 1905 the Trades Hall, the first building in Australia owned by unions, was built. It would have been built more quickly but the unions needed to fund strikes during the construction.

* Broken Hill became a city in 1907.

* Between 1894-1913 over 360 men were killed in the mines.

* There were constant strikes between 1909-1921 with a 'Big Strike' occurring in 1920.

* In 1911 Broken Hill became the first city or town in New South Wales to get a motorised postal service. It was wonderfully unreliable. A horse-drawn vehicle followed the post to Menindee because it broke down so regularly.

* On New Year's Day, 1915, Broken Hill became the site of the only outbreak of war hostilities on Australian soil. When a trainload of picnickers passed an ice-cream cart flying the Turkish flag at the eastern edge of the town, two gunmen of Turkish origin, (remember this was the time of Gallipoli) fired at the picnickers killing three people and wounding another six - a boy, a girl, three women and an old man. The gunmen fled to a cottage where they murdered the occupant. They were followed by a posse of police, soldiers and rifle-club members. After a lengthy battle the men were killed.

* A railway line from Sydney arrived in 1927.

* In 1927 Mutawintji Historic Site was gazetted as a "Reserve for the Preservation of Aboriginal relics". Ironically at the same time the Malyankapa and Pantijkali were sent to missions as far as far away as Bourke, Brewarrina, Menindee and Lake Cargelligo.

* In 1936-1937 a local botanist, Albert Morris, suggested that a verdant reserve be grown around the city because dust storms were a constant problem.

* In 1952 a 109 km pipeline was built to bring reliable water to Broken Hill from the Menindee Lakes.

* BHP ceased operations at Broken Hill in 1940.

* In 1967 the rock art galleries at Mutawintji were proclaimed an historic site.

* A transcontinental line connecting Sydney to Perth was finally opened in 1970.

* In 2002 Perilya took over the operation of the Broken Hill mine. Between 2002 and 2010 Perilya mined 15 million tonnes of ore and shipped over 800,000 tonnes of zinc metal and 450,000 tonnes of lead.

* Today Broken Hill is a mining and art museum on the edge of the desert.


Visitor Information

Broken Hill Visitor Information Centre, corner of Blende and Bromide Streets, tel: (08) 8088 9700


Useful Websites

There is a useful local website - http://www.brokenhillaustralia.com.au/ - which provides detailed information on accommodation, attractions and eating in Broken Hill and the surrounding area.

Got something to add?

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11 suggestions
  • Thaaklatjika (Wright’s Cave) is NOT located within the Mutawintji Historic Site, it is located within Homestead Gorge. Happy to provide further info.

    Mark Sutton
    • Always happy to have corrections. The aim, of course, is to be accurate. So any additional information will be very gratefully received.

      Bruce Elder
  • List the heritage of churches in Broken Hill. There are some beautiful churches.

    Ann-Marie Lavers-Grimm
  • thank you for your help

    Steven Butcher
  • Can someone please name some famous people who originated from this town? I’ve looked at all websites and there is nothing about these people, it would be good if this website was the first

  • Hi I believe Broken Hill wanted to secede. What name did they propose?

    Keith Brown
  • Just a comment…. During WWII Australia’s gold reserves were transported to Broken Hill and stored in the local Jail.
    As a “Grey Nomad” I will be consulting this site prior to our next caravan outing. Thanks!

    Rpbert Rogers
  • There is not much information regarding the NSW Police Force in Broken Hill about the time of 1898.

    Very little information is on the net !

    Sir James McCann
  • My family arrived there when it opened to do mining. Family members, mine managers, preachers so much to say about Broken Hill. My great grandfather a Preacher who had the biggest funeral at the time in broken hill as he was so well loved- Jonathan Roberts.

    The indigenous peoples of the area were willing to share their land with the settlers but felt disrespected when they took out everything they could and left little behind it was not what was intended.

  • Australian soprano June Bronhill (1929-2005) recorded a studio cast album of “The Desert Song” in 1959. Born “Gough” she changing her surname to “Bronhill” in honour of her birthplace, Broken Hill. See Wikki for a list of her career successes.

    CA Cranston