Broken Hill is an historic mining city in the Far West (Outback) of the Australian state of New South Wales. Broken Hill was founded on mining the world's largest silver, lead and zinc deposit in 1883, and the locals have been busy digging ever since. Australia's (and the world's) largest mining concern BHP Billiton had its origins here when it was called "Broken Hill Proprietary". Whilst mining has declined relatively in recent years, it still plays an important role with most of the tourist attractions being associated with the mines.
The other main reason to visit Broken Hill is for the artists, Pro Hart being the most famous, who called the city home. The city has many galleries all worth visiting, with spectacular open air Sculptures set in the wide landscape just north of the city at the Sculpture Symposium. All inspired by and set in that other great attraction, the vastness of the Australian Outback.
Movie Buffs will delight in spotting the settings featured in countless movies shot here, including Mad Max (The Road Warrior in the U.S.A), Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Dirty Deeds, the eponymous Broken Hill (starring two Americans as Aussies) and Race the Sun.
Whilst you are here you can also take in oddities like Bell's Cafe, the giant "Big Picture" canvas diorama of the outback and the so-called 'Battle of Broken Hill' in 1915 when two disgruntled Afghans attacked a local picnic train.
Broken Hill fascinates the visitor with its history, setting and artistic flowering in the remoteness of central Australla.
It is 1,150 km of mostly long straight drive from Sydney to Broken Hill, 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 on the edge of the real outback, but is easily accessible by car.
Countrylink runs the 'Outback Explorer', a weekly direct train service from Sydney to Broken Hill.
Monday Sydney 06:20 to Broken Hill 19:10. Travelling via Lithgow, Bathurst, Parkes and Ivanhoe. Travel time is 12.5 hr (Broken Hill is on CST - half an hour behind Sydney).
Tuesday Broken Hill 07:45 to Sydney 21:48.
Countrylink also runs a daily train from Sydney to Dubbo then a bus from Dubbo to Broken Hill.
Daily Train: Sydney 07:10 to Dubbo 13:40, Bus: Dubbo 14:15 via Cobar to Broken Hill 22:45.
Daily Bus: Broken Hill 03:45 via Cobar to Dubbo 13:25, Train: Dubbo 14:10 to Sydney 20:49.
The bus takes a half hour coffee break in Cobar.
Indian Pacific runs a luxury train via Broken Hill twice a week. Tours of the town are available while the train is stopped at Broken Hill for passengers travelling the Indian Pacific between Sydney and Adelaide/Perth.
Sydney Wed 14:55 to Broken Hill Thurs 06:30
Broken Hill Tues 18:50 to Sydney Wed 10:15
Additional Services Operate Sep to Oct 2013
Sydney Sat 14:55 to Broken Hill Sun 06:40
Broken Hill Sun 18:30 to Sydney Mon 10:15
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.
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. This may be a better option if flying: in December 2007, one-way fares from Sydney started at $218; from Adelaide, $132. No other commercial airlines fly to Broken Hill. Flights take 1.5 hrs to Dubbo, 3 hrs to Sydney and 1.25hrs to Adelaide.
Taxis are available at the airport, 5km into the town centre. Ask the flight attendant to arrange for a taxi pickup.
Walk Most of Broken Hill's sights are within walking distance of the Town Centre but some lie further out and in Summer the heat can be a big disincentive to hoofing it.
Murton's Citybus runs 4 color coded routes around Broken Hill: North (Yellow), South (Red), Hillside (Blue) and Thomas (Green) between 0800 and 1730 hrs. All routes pass through the City Terminus in Argent St near the Train Station.
Coach tours and Taxis are available.
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 located in the Visitor Centre building cnr Blende St & Bromide St.
COBB & CO Coach ride If you want a real experience that will take you back in time and off the beaten track, to see some real country. COBB & Co 
Two-hour Guided Walks of Broken Hill commence from the Tourist Centre, cnr Blende & Bromide Sts, 10:00 Mon, Wed & Fri
Unique Corrugated iron houses Although corrugated iron is widely used as a roofing material throughout Australia, it is not commonly used for the walls of houses as it was in Broken Hill.
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 Broken Earth Cafe Restaurant. Gain road access behind the railway track via Iodide St. and McGillvray Dve.
Miner's memorial and the cafe (on the right).
Pro Hart Gallery and Sculpture Park 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.
Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery - Must-see gallery housed in the beautifully restored Sully's Emporium. It is the oldest regional gallery in NSW and holds 1500 works in its permanent collection.
Thankakali Art Gallery - The Aboriginal cultural centre, located in an old brewery. It has an extensive gallery and a range of hand-painted arts, crafts and didgeridoos by local artists.
Afghan Heritage mosque - a corrugated iron mosque established by community of Afghan-camel riders who helped get the town started back in the 1880's.
Trades Hall - Pretty exchange built in 1921
Musicians Club Country and Western music on weekends and Two-up (gambling on the fall of two coins) Friday and Saturday night from 22:00 to 02:00. Surprisingly, for a town with such a small population, Broken Hill has a burgeoning nightlife. Many clubs catering to both locals and tourists are open most nights of the week until late. Also try the Democratic Club.
Badsha Mahommed Gool's ice cream cart - a replica cart at an infamous rocky outcrop 3km out on the edge of the town, near the old Cable Hotel on the road to Silverton. The site of the so-called 'Battle of Broken Hill' in 1915, when two Afghan muslims went 'postal', killing 4 people and wounding 7. They had fired 30 or so shots on a special train of picnic-goers, over disputes about halal-meal. Even though a lot of films have been shot in BH, this bizzare story is yet to be turned into one!
Royal Exchange Hotel - historic with walls lined with paintings and nice atmosphere. Have a beer, you'll be thirsty!
Silver City Mint & Art Centre - Home to a chocolate factory and the Big Picture (admission $5), the largest continuous canvas in Australia, an amazing 100m-by-12m diorama of the Broken Hill outback.
GeoCentre - An interactive geology museum, with beautiful and rare minerals and crystals on display and lots of touch-and-feel exhibits. It's also home to a 42kg silver nugget.
Railway, Mineral & Train Museum - There is more local history at the Railway, Mineral & Train Museum. The museum is in the Silverton Tramway Company's old station.
Delprat's Mine - An excellent underground tour underground where you don miners gear and descend 130m in a cage for a two-hour tour of stopes and working equipment. Delprat's is signposted across the railway tracks. (Closed to public in 2007 as mining has resumed).
Out of Town
Royal Flying Doctor Service - Next to the Airport 5km south. This iconic Australian Institution exhibition includes the fascinating Mantle of Safety Museum, with lots of quirky stories and things to see. Tours run during the week, or visit the museum at any time.
Sculpture Symposium - 9km north is a series of sandstone sculptures scattered in the landscape, created by 12 internationally renowned sculpters in 1993. Best seen at dawn or dusk.
Living Desert State Park - 12km north. Next to the Sculpture Symposium. Set amongst the tranquillity of the gullies and rocky outcrops, with a large biodiversity of native plants and animals. The sanctuary contains an animal viewing area, where you are sure to see wallabies, red kangaroos and wedge tail eagles. Or visit the arboretum of endemic plants.
Day Dream Mine - A scenic 20-minute dirt drive off the Silverton road, 20km from Broken Hill. For an amazing experience, tour this historic mine where you squeeze down the steps with your helmet-light quivering on your head. Sturdy footwear is essential.
Silverton - 26km west. A large number of films have been produced in and around Broken Hill over the years, many in the semi-ghost town of Silverton including; Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Mad Max 2, Race The Sun, and Wake in Fright the only one of two films to have ever been shown twice at Cannes.
Mundi Mundi Lookout. See the sunset in the outback, just 5km west, 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 5 kms west of Silverton, overlooking the Mundi Mundi plain. Truly spectacular. (-31.837,141.202)edit
The Menindee Lakes - 110km east near the Darling River. When full these make a spectacular and surreal sight in the otherwise arid landscape.
Kinchega National Park - next to Menindee lakes. A drive through the river red gum forest is also worthwhile.
White Cliffs - 290km NE. Australias oldest commercial opal fields, where many live underground, is an interesting spot to visit or prospect or shop for this quintessentially Australian gem. Stay in the worlds largest underground hotel.
Mutawintji National Park - 130 kms NE via a 'usually good' dry weather gravel road. This is the tribal area of the Malyankapa and Pandjikali people, known for it's beautiful river red gum lined gorges and rock pools.
Mine tours. You can go underground in the mining shaft and get a real experience of mining. There used to be a tour of Delprat's mine (8088 1604), which overlooked the town and took visitors over 100 metres below ground to workings that were active in the late 20th century. Tour guides were men who worked in the mines. However, due to the resource "boom", Delprat's mine was closed to the public in 2007. 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.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service Broken Hill Airport, 5km south. 08 8080 3714 The Bruce Langford Visitor Centre combines a museum, theatre and shop, with interactive displays showing the history of the Service, as well as tributes to the doctors, pilots and flight nurses. Open 7 days a week M-F 0900 - 1700 hrs. Sat & Sun & PH 1000 - 1500 $3.70/$7.00
School of the Air Broken Hill Lane St, Broken Hill (08) 8087 3565 Runs regular tourist sessions at 8:15am CST each morning, during the school term. In the session you will be able to talk with a teacher, watch an information DVD and sit in on a live lesson with the students. Book at the Broken Hill Visitors Centre.
Two-up School at Musos Around midnight on Friday and Saturday night at the Musicians Club.
Pony, Horse Trail Rides & carriage rides . There's plenty to do for the whole family at The Silver City Cobb & Co Stagecoach Stop at 383 Brookfield Av (Silverton Rd) the edge of town. Kids can have pony rides while bigger kids can experience trail riding or supervised horse rides, for those that can't ride you can have riding lessons or a coach ride.http://www.meanders.biz/
Silver City Scenic Flights, Airport Road, Broken Hill, NSW, 2880 (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.), ☎ +61 457155393, . Silver City Scenic Flights shows you the unique 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 potential options. A friendly and professional service, employing highly experienced and skilled pilots. Customer safety, comfort and enjoyment are top priorities. A twenty-five minute local scenic flight over Broken Hill starts at AU$95. A full day air safari for two people to Lake Eyre, including Wilpena Pound, Lake Frome, Leigh Creek, William Creek and Arkaroola, costs AU$2140 per personAU$95 - AU$2140. (-31.9975,141.4715)edit
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 Broken Hill NSW 2880, ☎ (08) 8087 2441, . Includes examples of Pro's painting and sculpture over three floors. Some of Pro's painted cars, including a Rolls Royce, are on display. *Thankakali Art Gallery - Aboriginal hand-painted arts, crafts and didgeridoos by local artists. *Bells Milk Bar The original makings for their historic shakes and spiders.edit
Broken Earth Cafe Restaurant Have a snack or fine dining on the top of the mullock heap looking down at the city spread below, especially at night.
Dunes Restaurant Southern Cross Hotel 357 Cobalt St (08) 8087 3679 Prides itself on Bush Food, so your chance to try camel and kangaroo amongst other less exotic fare. Breakfast Mon-Sat, Dinner 7 days.
Trinders Astra Hotel 393 Argent St. In up market Hotel.
Masallas 38 Chloride St (08) 8087 7405 Popular Indian.
Silver City Restaurant 1 Oxide Street (08) 8088 5860
Cafe Alfresco 397 Argent Street (08) 8087 5599 From 0700 till late 7 days a week. Busy, popular but slow service. Pizzas best bet.
Food Affair 360 Argent Street. Café
Bells Milk Bar 160 Patton Street South Broken Hill. An institution in Broken Hill since the '50's. Classic milk shakes, spiders, hot dogs and waffles. Free Wi-Fi and a flashback to treasure.
Musos (Musicians Club) 276 Crystal Street (08) 8087 1717 Cheap beer and standard club fare, with the added attraction of music (2030hrs - late) and Two-up (round midnight) on Friday and Saturday night. Open from 1000hrs till late 7 days a week.
The Demo (The Barrier Social Democratic Club) 218 Argent Street (08) 8087 1711 Basic club fare with drinks. Open from 0700hrs till late every night of the week.
JJ's (Club Legion) oppos. Railway 170 Crystal St (08) 8087 4064 Basic pub grub with a cheap Chef's special for lunch.
Mulga Hill Tavern 264 Oxide St (08) 8087 7138 Pub food, best go safe with the 'Parma' (veal parmagiana).
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. Having said that one should not 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.
The Palace Hotel - beautiful frontier style facade. It's more like a Motel, worth a stay just for the history, or at least a beer!
Mulberry Vale 5 km from the city centre 08 8088 1597 or 0428 858 374. 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.
Backpackers can get cheap accommodation at:
The Tourist Lodge - 100 Argent Street 08 8088 2086
The Grand Guesthouse - 313 Argent Street from $32/night
Caledonian B & B, 140 Chloride Street (Down Chloride St. 10 mins from Station), ☎ (08) 8087 1945, . checkin: Flexible; checkout: Flexible. Top in TripAdvisor, Top Choice in Lonely Planet, Friendly, homely and great value for money - Hugh and Barb will welcome you! From $79.00. edit
To see at least the near proximity, best is to hire a car for around $80/day (inc 100km/day) plus fuel. Two days should do everything within reach. One would be enough for Silverton, Mundi Mundi Plains, The Sculpture Symposium and Living Desert National Park.
Avis 195 Argent St (08) 8087 7532 / 1300 613 833 The city address was hard to find which may indicate it no longer functions. They have an office at the airport which is 6km out of town and hard to reach if you don't already have a car.
Hertz 193 Argent Street (08) 8087 2719 Open 7 days and till late (airport office)
Bicycle Service and Repairs 29 Sulphide St (08) 8088 7002 For the fit, hire a mountain bike, to get you out to most of the local attractions. Take water and a hat (a helmet is compulsory in Australia) in summer.
Sculpture Symposium 6km north. Obtain a key from the BH Information Centre. The key allows car access to the sculpture site. Alternatively drive to the car park and walk 2km to the site. A $10 park access charge is levied, payable at an honesty box near the site.
Silverton, 25km west, The historic boomtown 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 S.A.
Day Dream Mine is 33km NW. Historic mine on the way to Silverton, runs tours daily.
Stephens Creek Reservoir 17 km NE. An artificial dam.
Menindee Lakes, 110km east, When full of water, 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.
Mutawintji National Park 123 km NE. A ruggedly beautiful desert region showing evidence of continuous use by Aboriginal people for thousands of years. Dominated by the Bynguano Ranges, whose vibrant red colour dramatically captures changes in the light, this outback park is home to the famous hand stencil art of local Aboriginal communities as well as many other important cultural and historic sites.
White Cliffs 290km NE. The Opal Mining town is an interesting spot to visit or for prospecting.