Broken Hill is one of those iconic outback cities that you just have to visit at least once in your lifetime. And as we recently discovered, there are so many things to see and do in Broken Hill, that one trip definitely won’t be enough.
Broken Hill is located a little over 1100 kilometres west of Sydney in outback NSW. It is only 47 kilometres from the South Australian border and 517 kilometres from Adelaide.
The first thing you notice when you arrive in Broken Hill is the massive mullock heap that overlooks and dwarfs the town. Perched on top of this mullock heap is the Line of Lode Miners’ Memorial.
This memorial is dedicated to all miners who have lost their lives due to mining since the 1800’s. It’s an impressive steel structure that is designed to give the effect of walking into a mine entrance.
But what is even more impressive is the outstanding views it gives you of the entirety of Broken Hill. Adjacent is the Broken Earth Cafe if you are after a coffee or a bite to eat.
ROYAL FLYING DOCTOR SERVICE VISITORS CENTRE
I don’t think there would be anyone in Australia who has not heard of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS). The RFDS has operated from Broken Hill since 1936.
The RFDS was the vision of Reverend John Flynn who wanted those living in remote and outback regions of Australia to have access to medical treatment when they needed. The very first RFDS flight took off from Cloncurry in Queensland in 1928.
A visit to the Broken Hill RFDS Visitor Centre will give an incredible insight into the work that the RFDS staff do. From attending accidents, delivering babies and holding health clinics, their work is vital in our remote areas.
Unfortunately, due to Covid, we were unable to look at an actual plane, but the displays and information in the centre are well worth a visit.
SULPHIDE STREET RAILWAY & HISTORICAL MUSEUM
If you are a bit of a train buff or just want to know more about the history of Broken Hill then the Sulphide Street Railway & Historical Museum will be for you. Here you will find the Silverton Tramway Company locomotives in the original 1905 station building.
There are also a number of other interesting displays that highlight the history of Broken Hill, including the Migrant Heritage Museum so it is well worth a visit. Entry is $7.00 per person or $17.00 for a family.
PRO HART ART GALLERY
Pro Hart was one of Australia’s most prolific and best loved artists of modern times. His gallery in Broken Hill, where he was born, lived, worked and died was a must-visit spot for me.
He was a somewhat eccentric character and this can be seen in some of his art works. Many of his paintings depict life around Broken Hill and the outback. One of my favourite works in the gallery is a piece that covers two walls and depicts the history of Australia.
But if you want to see a really sensational piece of artwork then you can’t go past his hand painted Silver Shadow Rolls Royce which is on display at the gallery. So unique and totally embodies the character that Pro Hart was.
BELLS MILK BAR
Bells Milk Bar is the perfect spot in Broken Hill to stop for a milkshake or one of their extraordinary Sundae’s. Stepping into Bells Milk Bar is like stepping back into the 1950’s. Bells was established in 1892 as a confectioner and cordial maker. They still make original recipe syrups and cordials.
At the rear of the premises you will find a very interesting milk bar museum as well.
I had the waffles and Brenden had a Mars Bar Sundae Supreme – delicious.
TAKE A WALK
Broken Hill is Australia’s only heritage listed city. There are lots of historic buildings dotted through out the city, as well as mining monuments and artworks. A great way to see all this is to go for a walk. Guided walks are available through the Visitor Information Centre, but we just decided to wander around on our own. There is lots to see and most things have good info panels on them.
As you walk around you will also discover some sculpture pieces by Pro Hart. One of the most historically significant buildings is the Trades Hall which was opened in 1899.
LIVING DESERT STATE PARK
This was probably our favourite place of all. Located just 12 kilometres out of Broken Hill, the Living Desert State Park covers an area of 2,400 hectares.
JOHN SIMONS FLORA & FAUNA SANCTUARY
Within the reserve you will find the John Simons Flora & Fauna Sanctuary. This 180 hectare sanctuary has two seperate walking trails within it. The one kilometre Flora Trail or the 2.2 kilometre Cultural Walking Trail. We walked this trail and found the views to be breath-taking.
The trail is quiet step and winding so make sure you wear some sturdy shoes and carry some water with you especially in the warmer months. On the walk you will see a range of different wildflowers and perhaps some Wallaroos or Red Kangaroos.
Also within the Living Desert State Park you will find The Sculptures. These 12 sculptures are the result of an arts Symposium held in 1993. Sculptors from all around the world came and completed pieces from huge sandstone pieces that came from nearby Wilcannia.
These pieces sit high on top of a hill overlooking the desert below. It is a spectacular and very popular spot to watch the sunset. We were particularly taken with a piece called Bajo El Sol Jaguar (Under the Jaguar Son) by Mexcian artist Antonio Nava Tirado.
For us, this was the highlight of our visit to the Living Desert. It was so quiet and peaceful and we wish we could have stayed longer than the two nights we managed. The Starview Campsite has 15 large campsites for caravans or a large wood-chipped area for camping. In the centre area between the two camp areas you will find the Starview Seating area. This is the perfect spot to relax back and watch the stars.
The campground also has a large covered camp kitchen with BBQ’s and tables. Plus there are two unisex showers and toilets that were very clean and had plenty of hot water.
Camp site fees are $10 per person per night plus a $6.00 park entry fee.
WHERE TO STAY
We chose to stay at the Broken Hill Racecourse as it was by far the cheapest option available in town. Just $30 a night for power and water. Sites are largely all level and grassy. The toilet block is older style, typical of most country town race courses but were always clean and tidy. The showers appear to be a newer addition and were also very clean with plenty of hot water as well.
Power and water is available and they are happy for you to water the grass with your grey water. The only thing you cannot use are any kind of tent pegs to hold your awning down because of the underground watering system. But there are 20 litre drums full of water that can be used for this purpose.
Some sites back onto the race track and most days you will see horses going through their paces. Our site backed onto the Grandstand so we had some shade of an afternoon. The racecourse is also pet friendly.
We really only skimmed the surface of what there is to see and do in Broken Hill. It is such a great city and we can’t wait to visit again. We also did a day trip out to Silverton which was just fascinating. We also had a couple of nights at Menindee as well. Such a great area of NSW. We will definitely be back!