Sense of awe in the red sand city of Broken Hill

Broken Hill is Australia’s first heritage-listed city for a variety of reasons.

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A true outback city in every sense, Broken Hill is a living, breathing time capsule where the great mining prosperity of yesteryear blends seamlessly with a rising modern art scene, all set amid a sprawling desert landscape.

It’s a place of huge skies, red rocky earth and a fascinating and internationally significant history. It is, after all, Australia’s first heritage-listed city, and its secrets, just waiting to be discovered, will leave you in awe.

Vast, rust-red landscapes, sit alongside staggeringly beautiful wetlands. There are jaw-dropping sunsets and mind-blowing night skies. Remnants of the town’s mining history stand side-by-side with symbols of the new cultural hub that is Broken Hill now – with its art and sculpture and festivals that attract people statewide.

Explore the mines

As a mining town, Broken Hill’s massive orebody, which formed about 1,800 million years ago, has proved to be among the world’s largest silver, lead and zinc mineral deposits. The orebody is shaped like a boomerang plunging into the earth at its ends and outcropping in the centre. The protruding tip of the orebody stood out as a jagged rocky ridge amongst undulating plain country on either side. It gave the town its name, as also the name of one of Australia’s most successful companies, BHP (Broken Hill Proprietary Ltd).

Since mining began here, more than 50 million tonnes of lead and zinc, and 20,000 tonnes of silver have been extracted from over 200 million tonnes of ore.

Take a guided underground tour through a former silver mine at Historic Daydream Mine: walk the tunnels that the silver miners did in the 1880s.

Visit the dramatic Miner’s Memorial overlooking the city – a poignant monument to the 800 lives lost to the mines in the region.

Line of Lode Miners Memorial, Broken Hill

Art and sculpture

The Living Desert and Sculptures:  One of the most photographed outback sites in Australia, this is a collection of 12 giant sandstone sculptures in the middle of the desert,. created by artists from around the world in 1993. They are a spectacular spot to photograph the desert sunset.

The Living Desert and Sculptures, Broken Hill

Pro Hart Gallery: Pro Hart was an internationally renowned artist known for his depictions of working-class and outback life.  At the Pro Hart Gallery you can learn more this former miner turned artisan, painter, sculptor, collector, and inventor, who was awarded a state funeral upon his death in 2006.

Pro Hart’s painted Rolls Royce, Broken Hill

Mad Max 2 Museum: Transport yourself into an instantly recognisable post-apocalyptic world at Australia’s first and only museum dedicated to George Miller’s globally popular film series, Mad Max. The Mad Max 2 Museum is situated in Silverton, where filming took place for Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. It offers a large collection of photographs, life-sized characters in full costumes, original and replica vehicles including two Interceptors, and other fascinating memorabilia from the set of the 1981 movie. The museum is run by English couple Adrian and Linda Bennett, who moved to the Australian outback to run the museum. Whether you’re a Mad Max fan or not, you’ll be wowed by the size and scope of the collection.

The quirky Mad Max Museum, Broken Hill

The Original Silverton Hotel If you’ve seen Razorback, Wake in Fright, The Slim Dusty Movie, Mission Impossible II or The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, then you must visit this outback pub. You’ll enjoy the photos on the walls just as much as its Bangers and Mash, tasty hamburgers and famous hot dog!

Outback Astronomy

The outback sky at night is bound to wow you no end.

Head to Outback Astronomy, a dark-sky location just a 10-minute drive from town, and you’ll see the heavens as they are meant to be seen. Experiences include the Milky Way Hangout, held on clear, dark (moon-free) nights, during which you’ll lie back in a reclined chair atop a purpose-built stargazing dome, and revel in a panoramic view of our galaxy. The naked-eye viewing is spectacular, and you’ll have access to telescopes and binoculars for a closer look. In the Sky Tonight, the moon is part of the experience, while Dinner with the Stars is a graze and gaze event.

Milky Way Hangout, Broken Hill

Diverse history

While Broken Hill’s European history is synonymous with mining, the Bulali and the Wilyakali people inhabited this area for millennia. The Wilyakali called the region home for 50,000 years or more. You can see plenty of evidence of one of the oldest living civilisations on earth, such as the brilliant collection of Aboriginal rock art in the ruggedly beautiful desert at Mutawintji. The Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery is renowned for its collection of some of the nation’s best Indigenous artists.

As well, look out for evidence of the earliest Indian/Afghan migrants to this country: Broken Hill served as a prominent cameleer outpost.

Other attractions

Broken Hill is also home to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, serving far-flung communities in the outback. Visit its operating base and interactive museum – and make a donation.

The Broken Heel Festival is a fabulous three-day LGBT+ gathering which celebrates the theatrical anniversary of “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” at her spiritual home. (9-12 Sept this year)

Broken Heel Festival, Broken Hill

In association with Destination NSW

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