At first glance, this outback town might seem as bare as the desert that surrounds it. But it doesn’t take much digging to find the rich underside of this spirited community.
Famous for its stark outback beauty, rich mining history, and vivacious art scene, Broken Hill is a one-of-a-kind Aussie destination.
Not only has it – and the nearby town of Silverton – played the starring role in many the Australian screen drama – it also has a fascinating story of its own. From memorials to its founding residents to wild dances in the surrounding desert, here’s what to add to your list when you get to Broken Hill.
1. Broken Hill Heritage Walk Tour
Start with a tour of the outback town to get your bearings. The two-hour Broken Hill Heritage Walk Tour is volunteer run (you pay by donation) and takes in some of Broken Hill’s most important buildings; like the red-brick Post Office and the Palace Hotel. Tours run from 10am to 12pm.
Explore Broken Hill’s streetscape on a walking tour. (Image: Destination NSW)
2. The Palace Hotel
Speaking of the Palace Hotel, did you know that this now famous drinking hole began as a strictly ‘no grog’ temperance coffeehouse? Today, the Palace is more famous for its appearance in the iconic Australian film, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Dessert. The Broken Hill pub is a stop on the Broken Hill Heritage Walk Tour, but if you can’t make the tour, it’s still worth ducking in to see its gorgeous kitsch Aussie landscape murals. Enjoy the air con when the midday heat is ramping up, or come here for dinner.
The Palace Hotel was erected as a coffee palace in 1889. (Image: Destination NSW)
3. Mad Max 2 Museum
In the nearby town of Silverton, around 20 minutes from Broken Hill, is another must-see for lovers of the silver screen: The Mad Max 2 Museum. This privately owned space will astound even those who haven’t seen the wildly successful movie series, with a vast collection of costumes, photos, memorabilia, and even original vehicles from Mad Max 2, which was filmed in the area.
The museum is located just 20 minutes from Broken Hill. (Image: Destination NSW)
4. The Living Desert and Sculptures
Thirty years ago, 53 tonnes of sandstone were shipped to the Living Desert State Park, on a hilltop 12 kilometres outside of the town. Why? In order to be transformed into statues, of course. Pay $6 to gain entry to the park, and walk among the rock sculptures in the natural beauty of their surroundings. Best to do it at sunrise or sunset if you can – both for keeping out of the heat and for those golden hour photoshoots. You can also camp here if you’re so inclined.
The park is at its best during dusk and dawn. (Image: Destination NSW)
5. Line of Lode Miners Memorial
Another beautiful, and thought-provoking site to visit in Broken Hill is the Line of Lode Miners Memorial lookout. Created in memory of the 800 workers who have died over the history of this mining town, its rusty-red steel body is located upon an enormous hill made of mining waste. Spend a while here, reading the names of the men that are carved up here, and looking at the surroundings. Another one where the best time to come here is at dawn or dusk.
The memorial commemorates lives lost in Broken Hill’s mining industry since 1883. (Image: Destination NSW)
6. Day Dream Mine
While it has a pretty name, working at Day Dream Mine was at times closer to a nightmare for those that came here, over the course of its life as a working mine. Today, you can experience for yourselves what it must have been like to be an outback miner, with an under and overground tour here.
Witness a miner’s working life at Day Dream Mine. (Image: Destination NSW)
7. Menindee Lakes
Need some fresh air after being underground? Head for the Menindee Lakes, the ephemeral lakes along the Darling River. Canoe and swim here, or you can even try your hand at catching Murray cod. It’s 75 minutes from the township, so make a day trip off it or opt to camp overnight.
The Lakes are situated along the Darling River. (Image: Destination NSW)
8. The Big Picture at the Silver City Mint and Art Gallery
One of the odder attractions in the Outback, The Big Picture by an artist by the name of Ando completed the veritable Bayeaux tapestry of Australia. Ando created this 12-by-100-metre canvas, depicting the rocky, saltbush landscape that makes up the surrounding region. It is believed to be the largest acrylic canvas painting in the world and is made to be an immersive experience that you literally step into in the centre of town.
The Big Picture was created by artist Ando. (Image: Destination NSW)
9. Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery
Hungry for more art? The Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery is the oldest regional gallery in the state, and has been running for almost 120 years. With a mix of locally curated exhibitions, as well as visiting artworks from urban centres, this pay-by-donation gallery houses works by Pro Hart, Norman Lindsay and Frederick McCubbin.
The gallery runs on a pay-by-donation basis. (Image: Destination NSW)
10. Pro Hart Art Gallery
Considered by some to be the ‘father’ of modern Australian outback painting, Pro Hart was born in Broken Hill and grew up on a local sheep farm. His paintings and works – often with witty and colourful narratives – can be admired today at the Pro Hart Art Gallery in Broken Hill. This eclectic gallery also houses works from Albert Tucker, Artur Boyd, and even Monet!
Pro Hart even houses works by Monet. (Image: Destination NSW)
11. Royal Flying Doctor Outback Heritage Experience, Broken Hill
Founded in 1928 to deliver healthcare in regions where families might have enormous distances to travel to get to the nearest emergency, the Royal Flying Doctors now provides 24-hour emergency services. Visit the Royal Flying Doctor Outback Heritage Experience (which is actually located in a real RFDS base, a few minutes out of town), and get a feel for its history with an immersive audio-visual installation that takes you back to the fifties, as well as visiting the hangar, and take a peek in at live operations.
The RFDS was founded in 1928 to deliver regional healthcare. (Image: Destination NSW)
12. Silverton Outback Camels
From travelling by plane to embarking on the ships of the desert, Silverton Outback Camels will see you checking out the surrounding landscape from the back of a camel. Book onto one of their sunset tours, or prolong the experience with your new-found hairy friend, with an overnight stay at their camel farm, 20 minutes from Broken Hill, where children will be rapturous to meet donkeys, emus, and even alpacas.
You can even book an overnight stay at the camel farm. (Image: Destination NSW)
13. Broken Hill Distillery
Try a tipple with the flavours of the desert at the Broken Hill Distillery. Operating a cellar door with tours, and an outdoor area to relax in afterwards, the distillery is best known for having out-of-the-ordinary and uniquely Australian flavours. Think redgum honey and quandong gin, or its rosemary, mint and wattleseed brew – the perfect gift to take back with you after a long lunch.
The Distillery is known for its uniquely Australian flavours.
14. Broken Hill Mundi Mundi Bash
Get ready to party with the Broken Hill Mundi Mundi Bash, out near the Mundi Mundi Lookout near Silverton.
The music festival is family and dog-friendly. (Image: Matt Smith)
A dance festival that is family and dog-friendly, the ‘Bash’ celebrates Australian live music over three days in winter.
The young and young at heart embrace the fun at the three-day festival. (Image: Matt Smith)
Kick up some red dirt all day with your dancing, before retiring back to your caravan or tent: only to do it all again the next day.
Get ready to kick up some red dirt and dance the night away. (Image: Matt Smith)
Killer sunsets are a given in the outback. (Image: Matt Smith)