Broken Hill, New South Wales, or ‘The Silver City’ as it is sometimes called, is a city forged out of a hill that was almost pure silver, lead and zinc. It is a mining town on the edge of the desert at the central-western edge of New South Wales.
It is worth visiting because both the city and the surrounding area have so many attractions that it would be easy to spend a week exploring the area.
There is a unique mixture of ancient Aboriginal culture, vast desert vistas, famous movie locations and mining experiences. There are also contemporary art galleries and desert sculpture parks. While here though, you can also learn about one of the most unionised towns in the world.
Perhaps the most memorable feature of Broken Hill is that it is only a few minutes from the desert. Regardless of which direction you travel, you will soon reach the desert. It is a city surrounded by red soils, grey scrub, impossible flatness and intensely blue skies.
The city is literally an oasis in the desert which can get blisteringly hot in summer and drop below freezing at night time in the winter months.
The town is now the centre of the 16-million hectare West Darling pastoral industry.
To add to the experience, many of the streets are named after metals, minerals and compounds. Others are named after mine managers, leading citizens and civic leaders.
Although the town’s name sounds like a recent invention it actually dates from 1844. When the first Europeans, explorer Charles Sturt and his party, passed through the area Sturt noted the shape of the hill and referred to it as a “broken hill” in his diary. Sturt also named the Barrier Ranges – simply because they presented a barrier to his explorations.
Even though remote, at Broken Hill there are wide open spaces, perfectly blue and clear skies, amazing night skies, a fantastic art community, great places to eat and socialise, and the people are known as the friendliest people in the world.