‘The Capital Of The Outback’, ‘The Silver City’, ‘The Oasis At The End Of The Earth’; many people have attempted sum up Broken Hill over the years.
However, we say the best way to describe it is to simply call it a melting pot. On one hand it’s the heartland of Australian mining, with plenty of industrial artefacts dotting the city as proof. On the other, it’s a Mecca for the LGBT community thanks to the town’s star-making role as the backdrop to 1994 hit film ‘Priscilla Queen of The Desert’. And then, as if thrown in just to confuse everyone, it’s also home to some of Australia’s most iconic artists, along with a thriving gallery scene heralding a new generation of creative talent inspired by the rugged charm of the outback.
See what we mean? The best way to describe Broken Hill isn’t to try to box it in, rather explore it at your own pace and see for yourself.
Here’s our guide to digging deep into Broken Hill’s curious beauty…
Adelaide is the closest major city to Broken Hill, so you could rent a car enjoy a leisurely 5-hour road trip, passing through the beautiful Barossa Valley on the way. However, it’s a missed opportunity if you don’t catch the Indian Pacific train on its journey from Sydney through to Perth, stopping between Adelaide and Broken Hill.
This is one of Australia’s most iconic rail journeys and if you book Gold or Platinum class it’s arguably one of the most luxe ways to make your way there.
To fast track your journey simply catch a 1-hour Regional Express flight from Adelaide domestic airport to be amongst the red-earthed beauty of this town before you can say ‘G’day’.
Melbourne is approximately 9 hours from Broken Hill, so if your driving stamina isn’t what it used to be simply catch one of the 3-hour flights from the Melbourne domestic airport.
If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, Southern Cross Coaches offer daily services from Melbourne to Mildura and Mildura to Broken Hill twice a week.
Sydney is an epic 12-hour odyssey from Broken Hill but if you’re looking to recreate your own ‘Priscilla Queen of The Desert’ road trip then that might be exactly what you’re looking for. Sydney is also where the Indian Pacific starts it’s seminal 2-day trip from Central Station, so if you prefer to simply sit back and take in the sights then this is your best option.
You can also catch one of the daily 2.5 hour flights to Broken Hill from Sydney domestic airport aboard Rex airlines.
Broken Hill’s local history is a checkerboard of contrasts. On one hand you’ve got mind-blowing ancient Aboriginal hand painting site tours from Mutawintji Heritage Heritage Tours Company, and on the other a fully-decked out museum dedicated to the wonder of cinema that was Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior’’ at the Mad Max Museum Silverton.
On a more sombre note, the Line of Lone Miner’s Memorial is a must-do for anyone curious about the town’s one prolific mining history. The structure is a modern architectural stunner against the stark outback along Federation Way and stands as tribute to the 800 miners who lost their lives since mining in Broken Hill began in 1883
The endless red-earthed outback is by far the main reasons to explore Broken Hill but if it’s your first time going walkabout it’s best to hitch your wagon to Tri State Safaris. Tri State specialise in taking travellers to the ultra hard-to-reach places within the surrounding beauty such as boat tours across Minindee Lakes and adventurous 4-wheel-drives across the Flinders Ranges and Kinchega National Park.
If you’re looking for sites that will blow your mind (and your Instagram feed) then sign up for a Silver City Tours exploration of Silverton Ghost Town, dotted with cinematic scenes of long-deserted federation buildings. It’s no wonder it’s a favourite set amongst local and international filmmakers.
Mining and art might not be usual bedfellows but Broken Hill is no regular town and here the two sit comfortably side by side. With the toil of mining often inspiring the works of some of the regions top artists. Pro Hart Gallery is one of Broken Hill’s top cultural attractions, dedicated to the memory of one of Australia’s most celebrated outback painters.
For an introduction to some of the region’s up and coming artists then pay a visit to Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery which showcases inspiring works from talents across every level and style.
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If you’re looking for a true-blue Aussie stay experience then look no further than the Palace Hotel, located in the heart of Broken Hill. This colourful kitschy relic, lovingly referred to as ‘the Queen’ has been hosting a mix of burly miners at the bar and over-the-top drag queens on stage ever since ‘Priscilla Queen of The Desert’ put this pub on the map in 1994. To say this place has ‘character’ would be putting it lightly. Book a room in the beautifully garish ‘Priscilla’ suite to truly live out loud for a few nights.
However, if you err slightly more straight-laced then the Ibis Styles offers well-appointed rooms and a pool for cooling off after a days exploring.
Cawndilla Campground is ideal if you’re a more into your bird watching that bar-hopping. Watch blue-billed ducks and wild brolgas nest while watching a sunset over the wetlands, with the comfort of picnic tables, bathrooms and barbecue facilities nearby. Situated by Lake Cawndilla, this park offers spaces for tents all the way to large caravans.
If you’re looking for something closer to town, Lake View Caravan Park is just 3km out and offers a range of fully self-contained cabins or powered and unpowered camping sites.
If you’re looking to get the flavour of Broken Hill, literally and figuratively then The Palace Hotel Restaurant is the place to go. Eye up the large-scale murals that decorate the walls while enjoying cocktail or two at the front bar, made famous in ‘Priscilla’, then dine on sushi or soft shell crab in the restaurant next door.
Big kids and small kids alike will love the 50’s kitsch of Bell’s Milk Bar, located on Patton Street. Meanwhile, Tom Dick & Harry’s on Argent Street specialised to every taste with a mix of sushi, salads and sandwiches.
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