The unofficial capital of the NSW Outback, the city of Broken Hill has a rich history, vibrant artistic community and plenty of colourful characters. Discover amazing galleries, vast sculptures, cool cafes, palatial federation heritage and moving mining landmarks in Australia’s first heritage-listed city.
Learn about this city’s fascinating history on the Broken Hill Heritage Walk Tour. A walk down Argent Street reveals many great shops, galleries, restaurants and cafes including the Palace Hotel. You might recognise this iconic hotel from the movie Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
Broken Hill is Australia’s oldest mining town, dating back to the 1880s. Line of Lode Miner’s Memorial celebrates the life and work of more than 800 miners who lost their lives. Poised dramatically on a pile of rock, this striking memorial and lookout offers a commanding view over the city of Broken Hill.
Albert Kersten Mining and Mineral Museum offers a hands-on insight into the sciences of geology and mining. See artefacts from the city’s mining history and almost 2,000 specimens, including a 42kg silver nugget. Then learn the story of the Royal Flying Doctors Service and the vital work they continue to do.
Art in Broken Hill
Visit the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery, the oldest regional gallery in NSW. See works from the Brushmen of the Bush, a group of five artists who collaborated in the town and 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. About 20min drive north of Broken Hill, you’ll find the stunning Living Desert Sculptures. Created by international artists in 1993, these 12 dramatic sandstone sculptures form a trail through the centre of the Living Desert Reserve.
The Broken Heel Festival, held in September, involves three stages of comedy, cabaret and live music paying homage to Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Other great Broken Hill events are the Heritage Festival in April and the Perfect Light Film Festival in November.
Eat and drink
There’s a pub on (almost) every corner in Broken Hill, so you never have to go far for a counter meal and a cold drink. For breakfast favourites like avo on toast and smoothie bowls with great coffee, head for the Silly Goat Cafe. Drop in to Bell’s Milk Bar for a delicious milkshake in authentic 1950s surrounds.
Getting there and where to stay
Broken Hill is a 13-hour drive from Sydney, 11 hours 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.