The White's Mine Mineral Art and Living Mining Museum and Doll and Bear Cottage is set out in shedding behind the White's home but is unmissable. A cut out of a miner with a rock drill, rises above the roof. Outside there is a mine cage, mining trucks, and other equipment.
White's Mine Mineral Art and Living Mining Museum and Doll and Bear Cottage
We enter through the souvenir shop and are warmly greeted by Kevin and Betty. We pay a small entry fee and are ushered into a viewing room where we watch a video, '100 Years of Broken Hill History' which was produced in 1983 and includes mining scenes from 1936. Kevin and Betty will start the video for anybody who wants to see it. Beneath the TV the video is screening on are cutaway models of a mine. Even in the dark we are aware of how much there is to see here.
A cutaway model of a mine
Both Kevin and Betty guide the tours and today it is Betty. Betty speaks in a considered and clear manner and her knowledge of the history of Broken Hill and the mines is impeccable. The artworks and mining memorabilia are designed to show what takes place underground both past and present and is touted as the underground tour without going underground.
Over seven hundred works of mineral art by Kevin "Bushy" White are displayed, most of which illustrate different aspects of the history of Broken Hill and are used in a the guided tour. Kevin, who was a miner in Broken Hill for over two decades, has created the works over a period of forty years. The artwork is made from crushed minerals which are glued to boards using several types of glues. We are surprised to hear that the rich and varied colours are all natural.
One of the many pieces of mineral art depicting the history of mining
The roof of the building is modelled to represent the roof of a mine. Wooden pillars are in place as they would be in the mines. Betty explains the use of rock bolts and how they are set, using examples in the modelled roof.
We each get the opportunity to hold a piece of galena, the principal mineral containing lead and also a source of silver. We marvel at how heavy this stone is for its size while Betty tells us of the old days in the mines. We try to relate to the strength our forefathers must have had to handle these heavy rocks all the day long. A vast array or other minerals are displayed in glass cases.
Mining artefacts and underground memorabilia line the floors and walls along with the art. There are lamps, shovels, drills, barrows, mining hats and other equipment. A four metre long mineral art map of the mines is displayed under glass.
MIneral art map of the Broken Hill mines
After the tour we take some time to view Betty's collection of 1200 dolls and bears, a joy for children and adults alike. Along with dolls from the late 1800's, Betty has a vast collection of teddy bears, pretty dolls, witches, barbies,and Bananas in Pyjamas, many of which she has made herself.
Part of Betty White's doll and bear collection
In the souvenir shop we buy some sample minerals and some postcards.
White's Mine Mineral Art and Living Mining Museum and Doll and Bear Display are at 1 Allendale Street, Broken Hill (west off Silverton Road). Telephone: 08 8087 2878 Fax: 08 8087 7884. It is open 9am to 5pm daily. The entry fee is nominal. There is wheelchair access, plenty of seating and toilets. Tea, coffee or soft drinks can be purchased. There is a souvenir shop.The museum is set up in shedding behind the White's home so there is curb side parking in the street.