In the arid lands of far-western New South Wales, Broken Hill was first an intermittent home for the Wilyakali people. When Charles Sturt encountered the area while searching for an inland sea, he described it as some of the most barren and desolate land he had ever seen. Enthusiasm was soon generated, however, with the discovery of silver and Broken Hill was born. A syndicate of seven men quickly bought much of the land and in 1885 they discovered the world's largest silver-lead-zinc lodes. Later that same year they decided to form a company and float shares. That company was Broken Hill Proprietary (BHP), now BHP Billiton, the largest mining company in the world. Referred to as the 'Silver City', Broken Hill is also the centre of the 16-million-hectare West Darling pastoral industry, which has 1.75 million merino sheep cordoned off by a 600-kilometre 'dog-proof' fence. As you would expect of a hot, arid mining town, Broken Hill has many pubs. Note that Broken Hill operates on Central Standard Time, half an hour behind the rest of New South Wales.
Corner Blende and Bromide streets, Broken Hill; (08) 8080 3560
Nearby national parks
Line of Lode Miners Memorial and Visitor Centre: perched on top of the mullock heap at the centre of town, and delving into Broken Hill's mining heritage. Includes restaurant; open 10am–3pm; Federation Way; (08) 8087 1318.
Railway, Mineral and Train Museum: displays on old mining and rail services. Also incorporates the Hospital Museum and Migrant Museum; open 10am–3pm; Blende St; (08) 8088 4660.
Albert Kersten Mining and Minerals Museum: displays of minerals, mining specimens and a silver tree; 10am–4.45pm Mon–Fri, 1–4.45pm Sat–Sun; 2 Bromide St; (08) 8080 3500.
White's Mineral Art and Mining Museum: walk-in mine and mining models; 9am–5pm Mon–Sun; 1 Allendale St; (08) 8087 2878.
Joe Keenan Lookout: view of town and mining dumps; Marks St.
Muslim Mosque: one of the first mosques in Australia, built by Afghan community in 1891; open 2–4pm Sun or by appt; 246 Buck St; (08) 8088 3187.
Zinc Twin Lakes: popular picnic spot at lakes used as a water source for mines; off Wentworth Rd, South Broken Hill.
Art galleries: over 20 in town including Pro Hart Gallery, Wyman St; Jack Absalom Gallery, Chapple St; and Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery, Argent St, the oldest regional gallery in the state.
Heroes, Larrikins and Visionaries of Broken Hill Walk and Silver Trail self-guided historical town drive: leaflets from visitor centre.
Silverton The National Trust–classified town of Silverton was established when silver chloride was found 27 km NW of Broken Hill in 1883. It now has less than 100 inhabitants and is surrounded by stark, arid plains, making it popular with filmmakers wanting an outback setting. Mad Max II (1981), Razorback (1983), Young Einstein (1988), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) and Dirty Deeds (2001) were filmed here, and the Silverton Hotel displays photographs of the film sets on its walls. Take the Silverton Heritage Walking Trail (leaflet from visitor centre) and visit the Silverton Gaol Museum; 9.30am–4pm Mon–Sun; Bourke St; (08) 8088 5317. Barrier Ranges Camel Safaris offers 15 min rides around the outskirts of town and overnight safaris; Silverton Rd; (08) 8088 5316. Mundi Mundi Plain Lookout, a further 10 km N, affords views of the desolate yet awe-inspiring landscape. Daydream Mine, 13 km NE, operated in the 1880s and is now open for 1 hr surface and underground tours; 10am–3pm Easter to November, 10–11.30am November to Easter; (08) 8088 5682.
Mutawintji National Park Bushwalks lead through a rugged terrain of colourful gorges, rock pools and creek beds, while Aboriginal rock engravings and paintings tell stories of creation. The land was returned to its traditional owners in 1998, and a historic site in the centre containing a vast gallery of rock art is accessed by tour only. Tri State Safaris offers a 1 day tour of the national park from Broken Hill; (08) 8088 2389; 130 km NE.
Royal Flying Doctor Service base and visitor centre: headquarters, radio room and aircraft hangar open to visitors for guided tour, film and Mantle of Safety Museum; at airport; (08) 8080 3714; 10 km S.
Living Desert: magnificent sandstone sculptures set on a hillside (particularly striking at sunrise and sunset) and walking trails through the mulga-dotted landscape; leaflet available from visitor centre; Nine Mile Rd; 11 km N.
Dingo Fence: longest fence in the world at 5300 km from Jimbour in Queensland to the Great Australian Bight. Originally contructed in the 1880s to halt rabbit invasion, now maintained to keep dingoes out of sheep grazing areas; 150 NW.
Cafes & restaurants around town
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Campsites around town
Penrose Park 24 kmPenrose Park is in Silverton, an old goldmining town that’s retained an enormous amount of character – as well as some interesting characters. The park offers a goodly amount of facilities, including hot... Find out more
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Fowlers Gap Rest Area 100 kmThis isn’t much to write home about, and it’s not suitable for tents, but it’s a good place to stop overnight if the long drive is making you sleepy. It’s 108 km north of Broken Hill on the Silver... Find out more
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What's on around town
St Patrick's Race Day: horseraces; Mar/Apr.