Silverton is about 25km out of Broken Hill. The town sprang up after the discovery of rich silver deposits, although it was soon eclipsed by an even richer silver-lead-zinc ore body at nearby Broken Hill. The town is often referred to as a ghost town however, there remains a small permanent population and mainly tourist related businesses.
The first European to visit the area was the then Surveyor General of New South Wales, Major Thomas Mitchell, in 1841. Three years later, in 1844, the explorer Charles Sturt saw and named the Barrier Range while searching for an inland sea; the range was so named as it was a barrier to his progress north. Burke and Wills passed through the area in their famous 1860-61 expedition, setting up a base camp at nearby Menindee. Pastoralists first began settling the area in the 1850s, with the main trade route to the area along the Darling River. Prospectors began working in the area in 1867 when a local station-hand claimed to have found gold there. It was later discovered that his plan was merely a pretext for stealing a horse.
Some years later in 1875, two men drilling a well on a station south of the town site hit a lose of silver. Silverton was recognised as a town on 17 September 1880 and Richard O’Connell was sent in charge of the police. Among his many other duties was Acting Clerk of Petty Sessions, Mining Registrar and Warden’s Clerk.
In October 1886 the Silverton Municipal Council was formed and held its inaugural meeting in January 1887 in the Silverton Municipal Chambers, which still exist. The town’s population quickly increased reaching a peak around 3,000 in the 1890s, and the Silverton Tramway was opened in 1888 connecting the town to South Australia.
Many of the houses built were of simple iron and canvas construction. The rapid depletion of the high-grade ore around Silverton, along with the discovery of an even richer silver-lead-zinc ore body in nearby Broken Hill led to a sudden decline in Silverton’s population, with many of those leaving taking their homes with them.
We had a wander around the old town site which still has a few intact buildings. Had a look through an art gallery and The mad Max Museum before having lunch at the Hotel. The Hotel has featured in numerous films and Television series under various names. We also went out to Mundi Mundi Lookout. As we drove back into Broken Hill we passed several trucks which were part of a film crew headed to Silverton. Signs indicated the road out to Mundi Mundi would be closed on several days due to filming.