The broken hill that gave its name to Broken Hill actually consisted of a number of hills that appeared to have a break in them. This broken hill no longer exists, having been mined away. The area was originally known as Willyama.
Broken Hill, or ‘The Silver City’ as it is sometimes called, is a city forged out of a hill that was almost pure silver, lead and zinc. It is a mining town on the edge of the desert. Perhaps the most memorable feature of Broken Hill is that it is only a few minutes from the desert no matter which direction you travel. It is a city surrounded by red soils, grey scrub, impossible flatness and intensely blue skies that make the world seem larger and more dramatic.
To add to the experience, many of the streets are named after metals, minerals and compounds, or after mine managers, leading citizens and civic leaders. The town is now the centre of the 16-million hectare West Darling pastoral industry and the city is literally an oasis in the desert which can get blisteringly hot in summer and drop below freezing at night time in the winter months.
Broken Hill was a bit of an eye opener for me. I had only ever been through it on a couple of previous occasions. I had been out to Silverton for the “Mad Max experience” but apart from that I had never spent much time there.
We stopped at a Caravan Park about 3km out of town so walked in one day. We tagged along on one of the Historical tours operated out of the Visitors Centre. It was a 2 1/2 hour walk and talk. It was excellent and well worth the time. They accepted donations afterwards which went to local charities. The next day we caught the town bus from outside the caravan park entrance. It did a loop of both north and south Broken Hill so we did the loop. After we went through town the first time everyone else (only a handful of people used the service) we were the only ones on the bus and the driver gave us a bit of a commentary as we passed different landmarks. The driver also informed us that Actor Chris Hemsworth was spotted in one of the cafes that morning. He was part of the filming we had seen out at Silverton. The bus cost a whole $2.50 each and that was for a whole day!
We also went out to Silverton, Pro Hart Gallery and The Living Desert (see seperate posts). We walked out to the Mosque but unfortunately it was not opened the day we did that. You could easily spend a week in Broken Hill.