After a break of some months, I have finally been able to get back on the road mainly because the weather has improved and roads that have been closed to flooding are now open. The idea of flying to locations has been put on hold, but could be used for my trip to Birdsville which still remains inaccessible to road traffic.
No, Broken Hill is not actually one of the 94 places mentioned in ‘I’ve been everywhere’, however, for me it served as an ideal base camp for my day trip to Tibooburra and is worthy of note on this blog.
Located some 1,147 km east of Sydney on the Barrier Highway the town is close enough to South Australia to be willing share the same time zone, some minus 30 minutes from Sydney. I arrived mid morning which gave me the opportunity to explore some of the town and also head to an outback icon – Silverton – some 20 km north.
With travelling with Amelie, our Cavalier, I was keen to find some dog friendly accommodation for the night and was fortunate to be put in touch with the Calendonian who offer not only B&B accommodation but also rental of three cottages within the town. My needs, and Amelie’s, were well met and my thanks go to Hugh and Barbara for their hospitality.
Visitors to Broken Hill can not fail to be impressed by the towns backdrop of man-made Mullock Hills (see above). The locals compare these to Ayres Rock given the changing colours as they glow in the evening sunset. A worthwhile achievement for mining waste.
Indeed, for a mining town it does not come across as the most industrial of places. Streets are tidy and everything well kept. Perhaps one of the best clues to an outsider that this is a place of hard graft is in the street names. Chloride, Cobalt, Sulphide and Bromide Streets all giving strong clues as to the heritage of this town.
Today, due to fluctuations in the fortunes of the mining industry, this origin of Australia’s largest mining company BHP Billiton (Broken Hill Proprietary Company) has now taken to its artistic credentials to promote itself to a tourist trade. As a home of acclaimed artist and ‘father of outback painting’ Pro Hart (1928 – 2006), and a collection of sculptures best viewed at sunset, it has some good credentials in this area.
I could not resist the opportunity to detour from Broken Hill to Silverton to see this iconic outback town. Surreal, dusty, artistic, crazy and friendly are all adjectives that apply to this place which is both appealing and confusing to visitors.
Is it a serious town or some themed tourist attraction? I feel it is now the later having evolved from its silver mining history. Like many towns, the mining soon came to an end as the silver became harder to find and also, in the case of Silverton, the vaster discovery of silver-lead-zinc ore body in nearby Broken Hill lead to its quick demise.
In addition to it’s artistic heritage the town is frequently used in movies and TV shows due to its relative accessibility and scenic desert surrounds. It has been featured in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, The Flying Doctors, and Dirty Deeds.