Broken Hill is a historic mining city in the Far West (Outback) of the Australian state of New South Wales. Mining has occurred throughout the entire life of Broken Hill since its founding in 1883. Australia's largest mining concern BHP Billiton has its origins here with the initials BHP standing for "Broken Hill Proprietary". The mining industry has declined, but it still plays an important part in the story of the town with many tourist attractions associated with mining. The other main reason to visit Broken Hill is for the artists who have called the city home. There are many galleries around the city that are worth visiting.
Broken Hill and Silverton operate on Australian Central Standard Time (ACST). All other towns in the region operate on Australian Eastern Standard time (AEST).
It is just over 1,000 km of mostly long straight drive to Broken Hill from Sydney, and just over 500 km from Adelaide. Both roads are mostly good quality sealed roads. The scenery will change slowly along the way. Broken Hill is in the outback, but is easily accessible by car. Traveling via car (even with bull-bars) from dusk to dawn should be avoided. It is the peak time for accidents with kangaroos. A large number of motorists are caught in the Outback having collisions with kangaroos. Any repairs in this isolated community can take quite a while to complete.
NSW Trainlink run weekly direct services to Broken Hill from Sydney. It is called the 'Outback Explorer'. The Sydney to Broken Hill leg is on the Monday (6:20AM–7:10PM). The return journey is on the Tuesday (7:45AM–9:48PM). NSW Trainlink also run a daily service that is a train to Dubbo from Sydney and then a bus from Dubbo to Broken Hill. Sydney to Broken Hill is 7:10AM–10:45PM and the return is 3:45AM–8:48PM.
Indian Pacific runs directly to Broken Hill twice a week from Sydney and Adelaide. Tours of the town are available while the train is stopped at Broken Hill if travelling the Indian Pacific between Sydney and Adelaide/Perth. It is not possible to take cars to Broken Hill by train. The only drop-off/collection points are in Sydney and Adelaide.
Broken Hill train station is one block from the main shopping strip and walking distance to some accommodation. Taxis are available at the station to meet the trains.
- 1 Broken Hill Airport (BHQ IATA). Regional Express has direct services from Sydney, Adelaide and Dubbo. The Sydney service can either be direct (one return flight per day) or with a stop over in Dubbo. Essentially there are two flights per day from Sydney to Broken Hill however they book out quickly. The Adelaide service is a direct flight with two to three return flights per day.
The airport is on the edge of South Broken Hill. Taxis are available at the airport into the town centre. Ask the flight attendant to arrange for a taxi pickup.
NSW Trainlink (see 'By Train' above) offer a combined train and bus route from Sydney via Dubbo.
Buses R Us have three scheduled services per week between Adelaide and Broken Hill. The travel time is about 7 hours. Greyhound (formerly McCafferty)) no longer offer a service to Broken Hill from Adelaide and V Line only offers a service as far as Mildura (from Melbourne).
Coach tours are an option. Taxis are also available. But you will need a car to see the town and surroundings independently. This poses problems for the adventurous. Rental cars in the city often charge a premium for travelling further than 100–200 km, which is easy to do. After that, the rate is generally 25 cents a kilometre. Driving on unsealed roads is only allowed if you hire a four-wheel drive; even then, if you have an accident, you are liable for the entire insurance excess. So getting off the beaten track is difficult. At least one company only lets you drive to Menindee or Silverton.
Avis and Thrifty rental car offices are located in Argent St. in the town centre. The Hertz office is in the Visitor Centre building.
- 1 Miner's Memorial. Located on the top of the mullock heap on the edge of the CBD is the Line of Lode Miner's Memorial and Red Earth Cafe. Good views over the town and desert. Gain road access behind the railway track via Iodide St. and McGillvray Dve. You can also walk up that road but there is no shade. Free.
- The film sets. A number of films have been produced in and around Broken Hill over the years, for example; Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Mad Max 2 and Race The Sun.
- 2 Mundi Mundi Lookout. See the sunset in the outback, just out of town. There are a few favourite pieces of high ground where the sun looks like it drops off the end of the world. The best spot is the lookout just west of Silverton, overlooking the Mundi Mundi plain. Truly spectacular.
- 3 Trades Hall, 242 Blende St. A pretty exchange building built in 1921. Heritage listed since 1999.
- 4 Pro Hart Gallery and Sculpture Park, 108 Wyman St. Contains a large collection of the noted Australian artist Kevin 'Pro' Hart's paintings and sculptures, as well as many artistic works of others that Hart collected during his lifetime. The gallery also features the Rolls Royce that he painted in his unique style. Pro was born in Broken Hill, New South Wales, was considered the father of the Australian Outback painting movement and his works are widely admired for capturing the true spirit of the outback. He was nicknamed "Professor" (hence "Pro") during his younger days, when he was known as an inventor.
- 5 Afghan Mosque, Williams St. Established by the Afghan camel riders who helped get the town started back in the 1880s. Tours can be arranged through the Broken Hill visitor's centre.
- 6 Royal Flying Doctor Service Bruce Langford Visitor Centre, Broken Hill Airport. 9AM-5PM. Tours and exhibits in the local RFDS base. $7.
- 7 Badsha Mahommed Gool's Ice Cream Cart, White Rocks Historic Site, Schlapp St. A replica cart at an infamous rocky outcrop on the edge of the town, this is the site of the so-called 'Battle of Broken Hill' in 1915. Essentially two Indian-Muslims went 'postal' and killed a bunch of people, after firing 30 or so shots on a special train of picnic-goers, over disputes of halal-meal. Even though a lot of films have been shot in BH, this bizarre story is yet to be turned into one!
- 8 Sculpture Symposium and Living Desert Reserve, Off Nine Mile Road, 9 km north of town. The centrepiece is a hill containing a number of stone sculptures built in 1993. Very popular for sunset (look out for wildlife when driving back). There are also some walks through desert plants and multitudes of kangaroos. The hill is a 1-km walk from the parking lot. If you need direct access, contact the visitor centre. $5.
- 9 Broken Hill Women's Memorial. The memorial honours the contribution of Broken Hill's women who supported the community and mineworkers during the period of strikes and industrial disputes.
- Mine tours. You can go underground in the mining shaft and get a real experience of mining. Active mining in the vicinity had caused the mine to close to tourists. The Daydream Mine is just out of town on the road to Silverton, and is much smaller, but gives an impression of what mining was like in the 19th century, when all of the work was done by hand.
- Broken Hill is a major base for the Royal Flying Doctors Service and for the School of the Air. Expensive but fun!
- 1 Silver City Scenic Flights, Airport Road (Arrive at Broken Hill airport on a Regional Express scheduled flight. Collection from Broken Hill railway station or Tourist Information Centre also possible for pre-bookings.), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Silver City Scenic Flights shows you the Australian Outback landscape from the air. This affords amazing views of Broken Hill, the Barrier range, Flinders Range and Mildura areas, including the Menindee Lakes and Lake Eyre. Flying in their high winged aircraft provides unrivaled visibility of features that can not be seen from the ground. Silver City Scenic Flights offer a range of tours and air safaris with destinations throughout Central Australia. Broken Hill, Mildura, Menindee Lakes, White Cliffs, the Darling and Murray Rivers, Flinders Ranges, Wilpena Pound, Lake Eyre, Simpson Desert, Birdsville, Bourke & Wills camp 65 on the Cooper River, Coober Pedy, Mungo National Park and Uluru are all options. A 25-minute local scenic flight over Broken Hill starts at $95. A full-day air safari for two people to Lake Eyre, including Wilpena Pound, Lake Frome, Leigh Creek, William Creek and Arkaroola, costs $2140 per person $95-2140.
- 2 Visit Silverton. Visit the ghost town of Silverton, 26 km away, visit the Mad Max museum and all the local artist galleries.
Broken Hill has developed a thriving artistic community. Take a browse through some of the art galleries and outlets in and around the town.
- Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery
- Jack Absalom's Gallery
- Pro Hart Gallery, 108 Wyman St, ☏ . Includes examples of Pro's painting and sculpture over three floors. Some of Pro's painted cars, including a Rolls Royce, are on display.
- Surprisingly, for a town with such a small population, Broken Hill has a burgeoning nightlife. Many clubs exist and are open most nights of the week until late. Establishments catering to both locals and tourists include the Musician's Club and the Democratic Club.
- Try a spider at Bell's milk bar.
As one would predict for a mining town, Broken Hill has its fair share of bars but those expecting frontier style pubs will be disappointed. The majority of bars in Broken Hill are of the RSL club style, full of cheap drinks and pokie machines. Don't miss out on a game of two-up at the Musicians Club held on Friday and Saturday nights. The Barrier Social Democratic Club holds a disco night on Saturday night in which the young people from the town come out to play.
There are no upscale chains in Broken Hill. Best to seek out one of the renovated historic hotels.
- 1 Mulberry Vale, 10690 Menindee Rd (5 km from the city centre), ☏ , . Outback cabins with a range of self-contained accommodation sleeping up to 5 guests with everything supplied. Mulberry vale also caters for a number of functions in the rustic atmosphere of the Gallery.
- 2 The Palace Hotel, 227 Argent St, ☏ . Beautiful frontier style facade. It's more like a motel, worth a stay just for the history, or at least a beer. Free WiFi and parking.
- The Royal Exchange Hotel, 320 Argent St, ☏ . Historic with nice atmosphere. Have a beer.
Obtain a key from the Information Centre to see the Sculpture Symposium about 6 km from the city. The key allows car access to the sculpture site. Alternatively drive to the car park and walk 2 km to the site. A $10 park access charge is levied, payable at an honesty box near the site.
The historic boomtown of Silverton which has been the setting of several movies. Even though it 'poses' as a ghost town nowadays, it does in fact maintain a tiny population, having a camel farm. You can explore at will the ruined church and the Silverton Tramway, a now abandoned trainline which runs into South Australia.
The opal mining town of White Cliffs is an interesting spot to visit or for prospecting.
Stephens Creek Reservoir is an artificial dam 17 km north east of Broken Hill.
When full of water, the Menindee lakes make a spectacular and surreal sight in the otherwise arid landscape. A drive through the river red gum forest in the adjacent Kinchega National Park is also worthwhile. Several quarries are worth exploring and the Mundi-Mundi plains too, perfect for a romantic sunset.
Drive further to and through Mungo National Park to discover some old human history.
Head north on the Silver City Highway to Tibooburra and the remote Stuart National Park.
|Routes through Broken Hill|
|Adelaide ← Peterborough ←||W E||→ Menindee, Ivanhoe, Eubalong West, Condobolin, Parkes, Orange → Bathurst|