a short break in Broken Hill
Updated: May 25
Broken Hill is an art-lovers paradise. Pro-Hart, the sculpture symposium, Howard Steer and Jack Absolom are just a few of the very eclectic mix. Art lovers could literally spend days moving from one gallery or exhibition to the next. But it's a decent 6-hour drive from Adelaide, so what else is there to do?
With family roots in Broken Hill, our semi-regular trips have taken us to most of the sites over the years, but last weekend we revisited some of our favourites.
Visitors who enjoy running or walking can start their Saturdays at 8am at the Broken Hill Racecourse parkrun event. We ran the slightly convoluted rocky, rutted dirt trail on the flat red plains surrounding the race track. It wasn't the sort of place you'd run a personal best, but it was fun and ticked off yet another parkrun course.
Tip #1: Caravaners and campers can stay at the racecourse. It's quiet, uncrowded, grassed and has good, clean facilities.
There are plenty of places for coffee in town and we chose Charlotte's on the main street. The mars-bar milkshake went down a treat (apparently) while we enjoyed the views of the 1880's buildings including the town hall and post office.
History lovers should definitely spend some time wandering the street. You can also visit the Palace Hotel–which famously appeared in the movie, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert–even though it is currently cloaked in scaffolding, mid renovation.
Of course Broken Hill, also known as the Silver City, is famous for its mining. There are still several working mines close-by and you can hear and feel the blasts each day–it's when all the local dogs start barking!
A short drive to the town lookout and the boys followed the time-honoured tradition of jumping the chain to sit on the big red seat to take in the view.
Not only is the Line of Load Miner's Memorial a must-see on any trip to Broken Hill, but it is a beautiful and sobering tribute to over 800 men who lost their lives mining since 1883.
The Big Picture is one of the more well known commercial art galleries in town, housing the world's largest acrylic painting on canvas by a single artist. At 100 metres in length and 12 metres at its highest point, we were able to recognise most of the different scenes and the boys also enjoyed trying to count all of the animals.
If you are limited for time, make sure to visit the Pro Hart Gallery and Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery, but there are plenty of others to keep you occupied as well.
Trainspotters will love the Sulphide Street Railway and Historical Museum complex. There's something for everyone here and it's great value for families.
Tip #2: Young children will enjoy the miniature railway train which runs on most weekends in the adjacent park.
Four wheel drive enthusiasts with a bit of local knowledge and a vehicle with decent ground clearance can drive up to the survey marker on Round Hill. You will be rewarded with views of Broken Hill and the goings-on in the Perilya Potosi Mine.
When you've had enough of the galleries and souvenir shops, you must head to the Living Dessert and Sculptures. If you are short on time, devote your visit to the sandstone sculptures. Some of them are incredibly impressive and it is difficult to take a bad photograph. Whilst these are normally arid lands, the landscape has been affected by the current drought.
Tip #3: Sunset and sunrise at the sculptures are particularly picturesque.
While you are here, make sure you visit Silverton. Allow at least half a day, preferably more. The small admission fee to the old school is worth every cent and it is a great place to learn about the fascinating history of the old town. You can follow the historical walk, visit the old jail, see the Mad Max Museum, count the VW Beetles around the town, go underground at the old Day Dream Mine, take in some more galleries or drive a little further down the road for a view across the endless Mundi-Mundi Plains.
If you're not exhausted after all of that, you haven't tried hard enough! Silverton has several cafes and a wonderful pub. Beware though, you might have to push your way past the two local donkeys who wait patiently at the front doors for opening time!
There's no excuse for not keeping busy on a trip to Broken Hill but you should carefully plan the time of your visit. Arrive during summer and you might only get as far as the local swimming pool, which at that time of year is a very fine place to be!