Beyond the edge of the Darling River on the edge of sundown…
G’day… Welcome to Broken Hill and the inspirational outback. The vibrant yet subtle colours and magical light of this landscape have brought film-makers and artists here to capture its special quality. The legendary outback city of Broken Hill is rich with history, a vibrant artistic community and cast of colourful characters. Discover amazing galleries, famous sculptures, cool cafes, palatial federation heritage and towering mining landmarks in Australia’s first heritage-listed city.
It packs a powerful emotional punch, this dark red soil contrasting with clear blue skies where the wedge-tailed eagle soars, appealing to something deep in our human souls. There’s definitely a spiritual element in this country, as the Aboriginal ancestors knew. And at sunset, when the wide horizon glows red and orange, we are each lost for words.
The distances are huge and the big red kangaroos can boom two hundred kilometres in a night chasing a thunderstorm. And yet there’s a smaller scale – the petals of a Sturt’s desert pea, the eyes of a lizard, ancient rock etchings.
The town of Broken Hill is its own graphic testimony to the struggles of the mining pioneers. The ‘tower mullocks’ and headframes silhouetted at sunset tell the story of a treasure beyond the wildest dreams, a treasure that filled the coffers of a young nation.
Broken Hill is a great place to begin your Sturt’s Steps Journey.
Learn about the city’s fascinating history on the Broken Hill Heritage Walk Tour. A stroll down Argent Street reveals many great shops, galleries, restaurants and cafes including The Palace Hotel. You might recognise this iconic hotel from the cult Australian movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
Broken Hill is Australia’s oldest mining town, with a colonial history dating back to the 1880s. Poised dramatically above the landscape, the Line of Lode Miner’s Memorial celebrates the life and work of more than 800 miners who lost their lives here. This striking memorial provides a commanding view of the town.
Albert Kersten Mining and Mineral Museum offers a hands-on insight into the science of geology and mining. See artefacts from the city’s mining history and almost 2,000 specimens, including an impressive 42kg silver nugget, and learn the story of the Royal Flying Doctors Service and the vital work they continue to do.
The Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery is the oldest regional gallery in NSW. See works from the Brushmen of the Bush, a group of five artists who included Pro Hart, Eric Minchin and Jack Absalom. There’s also an excellent collection of Indigenous works from Badger Bates, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri and Emily Kame Kngwarreye.
There are many other galleries and studios in town, including the Pro Hart Gallery and Willy Nilly Art. Twenty minutes’ drive north of Broken Hill, you’ll find the stunning Living Desert Sculptures. Created by 12 international artists in 1993, the dramatic sandstone sculptures adorn a trail through the centre of the Living Desert Reserve.
The Broken Heel Festival, held in September, features divas, DJs, and live music that pays homage to the iconic film and stage musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Other great Broken Hill events are the Heritage Festival in April and the Perfect Light Film Festival in November.
There’s plenty of ways to enjoy a cold drink in Broken Hill, from classic pubs and bars such as the famous Palace Hotel to the welcoming Broken Hill Distillery. For a delicious breakfast and great coffee head for the Silly Goat Cafe, or drop in to Bell’s Milk Bar for a delicious milkshake topped with authentic 1950s decor.
Getting there & where to stay
Broken Hill is a 13hr drive from Sydney, 11hr from Canberra, nine hours from Melbourne and just under six from Adelaide. You can fly into Broken Hill Airport and hire a car to explore the region. You may need a 4WD for unsealed roads and national parks. There are lots of places to stay including motels, historic cottages, campgrounds and farmstays.
Broken Hill Airport is located 6km from Broken Hill’s town centre. Make the short trip north using taxi services at the terminal. Alternatively, rent a car from the hire services available at the airport and explore the region at your own pace.
Regional Express flies from Broken Hill to Sydney, Dubbo, Adelaide, Griffith and Mildura. For other major Australian cities, connect via these destinations to reach the Outback capital.