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Broken Hill City Tour

Home > New South Wales > Tours | Places of Interest | Memorials | Lookouts | Day Trips
by Gayle Beveridge-Marien (subscribe)
Gayle Beveridge is a past winner of the Boroondara Literary Awards and her work has appeared in Award Winning Australian Writing. Gayle is passionate about family, writing, photography, and with Victoria’s beautiful Bass Coast which she now calls home.
Published March 18th 2015
An introduction to the quintessential outback city
Broken Hill City Tour
Broken Hill, the birthplace of BHP, and affectionately referred to as the Silver City, is a city of around 20,000 people in outback New South Wales and is Australia's first National Heritage City. Mining commenced here in the late 1800's and continues today. Broken Hill is steeped in history and surrounded by magnificent vistas.

Broken Hill, Line of Lode, Outback, New South Wales
Broken Hill viewed from the West

Accessible by sealed roads from Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, by rail from Sydney and Adelaide and by air from Adelaide, Sydney, Dubbo and Melbourne via Mildura, it is easily reached by any who wish to travel there.

There is much to see in Broken Hill and in the surrounding areas – Silverton, Menindee and Mungo National Park. A weekend would be a pleasure, but five days or more would do it greater justice. We chose a City Sights and Heritage Tour to introduce us to this marvelous place.

We are collected from our accommodation and treated to a tour of suburban streets as our bus picks up our fellow tourists. Many of the streets are steep enough to take our breath away, others flat and straight. We notice the high curbs and our driver, Chris, explains that when it does rain here it can be significant and the height helps to channel the water. We pass a corner pub, the Rising Sun or is it Risin Sun?

Rising Sun Hotel, Broken Hill, Outback, Funny Sign
The Rising (or Risin Sun) Hotel

The Tour is provided by Silver City Tours It is a half day City Sights and Heritage Tour which runs Tue, Wed, Thur, Sat. 9am to 12.30pm. Check the websit or contact the operator for current timetables.

Costs (at March 2015) are Adults $78.00 Concessions $70.00 Child $40.00. Pick upis from accommodation in Broken Hill

Silver City Tours have an office at 380 Argent Street, Broken Hill Phone: 61 08 8087 6956, Freecall: 1300 723 583, Fax No: 61 08 8087 8175, Mobile: 0419 839 739

Note: Silver City Tours is not the only tour provider. A list of tour providers can be found on the Discover Broken Hill Website a or from the Visitor Information Centre at the corner of Bromide and Blende Streets. Phone: 08 8080 3560

Email: [email protected]

At 25 Garnet Street we are amazed with a giant brick Radio. Radio Station 2BH Broken Hill has modeled its building on an antique, cathedral style, Philips radio, probably 1930's, complete with the Philips logo. The four round windows at the base, representing the radio knobs are labeled On-Off, Tone, Tuning and Volume. 2BH commenced in Broken Hill in 1934 and moved into the Garnet Street building in 1990.

Radio, Broken Hill, Outback, 2BH,
The 2BH Radio building modelled after a cathedral style, antique Philips radio

We are surprised when we pass an historic Synagogue, consecrated in 1911; it is unexpected. Now run as a museum by the Broken Hill Historical Society, the Synagogue at 165 Wolfram Street, was the first in New South Wales to be built outside the Sydney metropolitan area.

Synagogue, Broken Hill, Outback, Museum
Synagogue of the Outback Museum

In the business district we come upon the Trades Hall Building on the corner of Sulphide and Blende Streets. Locally referred to as 'The Kremlin', the foundation stone for this imposing building was laid in 1898. Built and paid for by the people of Broken Hill, it was the first privately owned Trades Hall in the Southern Hemisphere.

Trades Hall, Broken Hill, Union, Architecture, Outback
The Broken Hill Trades Hall Building

Across the road are the Broken Hill Council Chambers, a modern building the locals call 'The Forest' because there's a lot of dead wood there or so we're told. The sculptures of the famous Syndicate of Seven, the founders of BHP are displayed here.

On the corner of Argent and Sulphide Streets we drive past the majestic Palace Hotel, commissioned by the Temperance movement and built in 1889 as a coffee palace. Its initial purpose short-lived, the hotel had a liquor license by 1892. Typical of the period it is surrounded by large cast iron verandahs. The hotel is renowned for the murals on its internal walls and ceilings and was featured in the movie, Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

Palace Hotel, Broken Hill, Outback, Architecture
The Palace Hotel

There are so many historical buildings we can't help but want to see more. Walking Tours of Broken Hill offer an easy two and a half hour guided walk departing from the Visitor Information Centre, at the corner of Bromide and Blende Streets, at 10am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (except in the summer months) or you can obtain a Heritage Trail leaflet from the Visitor Information Centre and take the walk yourself.

Phone: 08 8080 3560

Email: [email protected]

The Syndicate of Seven at the Council Offices
We listen as Chris relates the tale of the Syndicate of Seven, the men who in 1885 formed the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited (BHP) and who are the beginning of the Broken Hill story. Sculptures of the men take pride of place in front of the Broken Hill Council Chambers on the corner of Sulphide and Blende Streets.

Syndicate of Seven, Broken Hill, Outback, Mining
Sculptures of the Syndicate of Seven

These men who had come upon lead and zinc with traces of silver, could not have imagined the wealth of mineral deposits that lay beneath their feet or that the company they formed would one day become the largest public company in Australia. In its first year BHP mined ore that would be worth around $6.5 million today.

The Syndicate registered seven leases on the Mount Gipps Sheep Station. They were George McCulloch, the station owner; station hands Charles Rasp, David James, and James Poole; Philip Charley, a jackaroo; George Urquart, a sheep overseer; andGeorge Lind, a bookeepeer and storekeeper.

Syndicate of Seven, BHP, Broken Hill, Mining, Outback
Information Board for the Syndicate of Seven

Phillip Charley, imported the first Rolls Royce, a 1907 Silver Ghost, into Australia, a fact that draws nods or appreciation from the men on the tour.

Urquart, Poole and Lind sold early and profited little or not at all from the find.

McCullogh became a patron of the arts, helped establish the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery and funded Broken Hill's first hospital.

David James acquired racehorses in Kapunda in South Australia and his mare Auraria won the 1895 Melbourne Cup. In 1902 James became a parliamentarian.

The sculptures are in front of the Broken Hill Council Chambers on the corner of Sulphide and Blende Streets where their story is summarised on an information board. They can be viewed at any time. Access to the sculptures is free to the public.

Old Junction Mine and Browne's Shaft Lookout
We stop at the Old Junction Mine and Browne's Shaft Lookout where Chris recounts the history of the mine, explains the remaining equipment and passes around a piece of Galena (which contains both silver and zinc), a very heavy rock for its size. He also passes around a lump of lead, this being the third mineral mined at Broken Hill.

Here we see the oldest remaining wooden headframe on the Line of Lode having been originally erected in the 1890's. Also remaining are the concentration mill foundations (1897), the manager's house (around 1916), the winding engine (1946) and the ore bins (1946). The site is well signed with detailed information boards and presents numerous photo opportunities.

Junction Mine, Broken Hill, Mining, Outback, Landing Brace, Ore Bins
The Ore Bins and Landing Brace (1962) at Junction Mine

Some of the lode outcrop is starkly visible here, a tortured rock face of charred blacks and browns. This is the weathered surface of the Broken Hill ore body. The outcrop contains manganese oxides, iron oxides, quartz and a small amount of lead. Rich silver deposits were found 30 metres below the surface.

Lode, Outcrop, Broken Hill, Junction Mine, Mining
The Lode Outcrop

To the east is North Mine, first pegged in 1883 and for which the Broken Hill North Silver Mining Co. was formed in 1888. North mine ceased operations in 1993. Information boards at the lookout help identify some of the structures and detail the history of North Mine.

From our vantage point, looking north we can see the whole of Broken Hill stretched out before us, the Barrier Range at its back. Many of the historical buildings can be easily identified.

Broken Hill, Line of Lode, Outback, Mining
Looking over Broken Hill from Junction Mine and Browne's Shaft Lookout

Old Junction Mine and Browne's Shaft Lookout is on Menindee Road, in Broken Hill. A town map can be obtained from the Visitor Information Centre at the corner of Bromide and Blende Streets. Phone: 08 8080 3560 Email: [email protected]

Line of Lode Miners Memorial, Visitors Centre and Restaurant
Atop the Line of Lode we visit the Miners Memorial. The memorial is accessible via the Broken Earth Café and Visitors Centre and has a lookout over the city.

Memorial, Miners, Broken Hill, Outback
The Miners Memorial atop the Line of Lode

The Memorial pays tribute to the miners who lost their lives in the Broken Hill mines, in all just over 800 men. Beside the names are floral tributes. This unique building was designed to represent the damp and claustrophobic underground environment of the miners.

Miners Memorial, Line of Lode, Broken Hill, Mining, Outback
Floral Tributes besdie the names of Lost Miners

In the grounds around the memorial, old mining machinery is on display. It is an easy circular walk and seems to be a hit with the young boys on the tour (and with the not so young boys).

Mining machinery, Broken Hill, Mining
Mining machinery on display near the Miners Memorial

Then here at last is the famous Big Bench, a 2.5 times normal size, bright red, park bench built in 2002 as part of the Landscapes and Backgrounds Exhibition. The bench looks out over the city.

The view of the city across the mullock heap reminds us that Broken Hill is and has always been a mining town.

The Line of Lode Miners' Memorial, Visitors Centre and Restaurant are atop the Line of Lode, via Federation Way.
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Why? To gain an introduction to this unique and historic city.
When: Tue, Wed, Thur, Sat. 9am to 12.30pm
Phone: 1300 723 583
Where: Broken Hill
Cost: Adults $78.00 Concessions $70.00 Child $40.00 (at March 2015)
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