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About Broken Hill

Broken Hill, New South Wales

Broken Hill is an isolated mining city in the far west of outback New South Wales, Australia. The world's largest mining company, BHP Billiton, has roots in the town.

Broken Hill is located near the border with South Australia on the crossing of the Barrier Highway (A32) and the Silver City Highway (B79), in the Barrier Range. It is 315 m (1,033 ft) above sea level, with a hot desert climate, an average rainfall of 235 mm (9 in). The closest major city is Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, which is more than 500 km (311 mi) to the southwest. Unlike the rest of New South Wales, Broken Hill (and the surrounding region) observes Australian Central Standard Time (UTC+9:30) a time zone it shares with South Australia and the Northern Territory.

Broken Hill has been referred to as "The Silver City", the "Oasis of the West", and the "Capital of the Outback". Although over 1,100 km (684 mi) west of Sydney and surrounded by semi-desert, the town has prominent park and garden displays and offers a number of attractions such as the Living Desert Sculptures.

Broken Hill
New South Wales

Broken Hill from Broken Earth Cafe.jpg

Part of the town seen from the Line of Lode lookout


Town name

Broken Hill is Australia's longest-lived mining city. In 1844, the explorer Charles Sturt saw and named the Barrier Range, and at the time referred to a "Broken Hill" in his diary. Silver ore was later discovered on this broken hill in 1883 by a boundary rider named Charles Rasp. The "broken hill" that gave its name to Broken Hill actually comprised a number of hills that appeared to have a break in them. The broken hill no longer exists, having been mined away.

The area was originally known as Willyama.

Before Charles Sturt's naming of the town, the surrounding area was referred to by the local Aboriginal population as the "Leaping Crest". 


Broken Hill's massive orebody, which formed about 1,800 million years ago, has proved to be among the world's largest silver-lead-zinc mineral deposits. The orebody is shaped like a boomerang plunging into the earth at its ends and outcropping in the centre. The protruding tip of the orebody stood out as a jagged rocky ridge amongst undulating plain country on either side. This was known as the broken hill by early pastoralists. Miners called the ore body the Line of Lode. A unique mineral recently identified from Broken Hill has been named Nyholmite  after one of the city's famous sons Ron Nyholm (1917–1971). Lead with the isotope signature of the Broken Hill deposits has been found across the entire continent of Antartica, in ice cores dating back to the late nineteenth century.





Miner's Memorial at the Line of Lodemine, commemorating over 800 workers who lost their lives working the mine

The earliest human settlers in the area around Broken Hill are thought to be the Wiljakali  Aborigines, although originally thought to be intermittent, owing to the lack of permanent water sources, it has since been found that the Indigenous Clans of the area were able to survive on underground water holes and wells that were unknown to the European settlers. Many of these waterholes are still kept secret from non-Indigenous people. As in much of Australia, a combination of disease and aggression by white settlers drove them from their lands.

The first European to visit the area was the then Surveyor General of New South WalesMajor 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 MenindeePastoralists first began settling the area in the 1850s, with the main trade route to the area along the Darling River.

Broken Hill was founded in 1883 by boundary rider Charles Rasp who patrolled the Mount Gipps fences. In 1883 he discovered what he thought was tin, but the samples proved to be silver and lead. The ore body they came from became the largest and richest of its kind in the world. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company (BHP) (later BHP Billiton) was founded by the Syndicate of Seven to mine the ore body of Broken Hill in 1885. By 1915 BHP realised its ore reserves were limited and began to diversify into steel production and on 28 February 1939 mining at the BHP mines at Broken Hill had ceased.

BHP was not the only miner at Broken Hill, and mining continued at the southern and northern ends of the Line of Lode. Currently the southern and northern operations are run by Perilya Limited who plan to open further mines along the Line of Lode.

The Battle of Broken Hill took place on New Year's Day 1915 when two Afghani men fired upon a trainload of people who were headed to a New Years Day picnic. Since, at that time, Australia was at war with the Ottoman Empire, those people were first speculated to be Turkish, but later identified as being from British colony of India (modern day Afghanistan). They killed four and wounded six, before they were killed by a group of policemen and soldiers.

In 1918 the Italian Ambassador to Australia, Emilio Eles, with the help of the Australian police and the army organized the rounding up of Italian deserters, working there as miners, to be forcibly sent back to Italy to fight in the war.



The Broken Hill court house

It is also known for its input into the formation of the labour movement in Australia, and has a rich trade union history. Some of the most bitter industrial disputes have been fought in Broken Hill in 1892, 1909 and 1919. The last of these led to the formation in 1923 of the Barrier Industrial Council, a group of 18 trade unions, which became one of the most influential organisations in the politics of the city.

Like many "outback" towns, Broken Hill was built on precious metals, having once had the world's richest deposits of lead, zinc and silver. Although now depleted somewhat, mining still yields around two million tonnes annually. Some mine tours are available. Sheep farming is now one of the principal industries in the area and there are considerably more sheep than people — almost 2 million Merino sheep.

On 10 January 2007, the Broken Hill City Council was dismissed by the New South Wales Minister for Local Government following a public inquiry.


Broken Hill Trades Hall


Sulphide Street railway station


Looking down Sulphide St to the rail line and man-made mullock heaps in the background. The Broken Earth visitor centre is in the background.


Broken Hill War Memorial





Broken Hill has been and still is a town dominated by the mining industry. The mines founded on the Broken Hill Ore Deposit– the world's richest lead-zinc ore body – have until recently provided the majority of direct employment and indirect employment in the city. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company became Australia's largest mining company, and later became part of the world's largest mining company, BHP Billiton.

Before the 1940s, mining was done by hand tools with high labor usage rates and included horse-drawn carts underground. The advent of diesel powered mining equipment in the late 1940s and the move toward mechanised underground mining has resulted in less labor used per tonne of ore recovered, and the mine workforce has declined. Another factor in the shrinking of the workforce has been the consolidation of mining leases and operators from several dozen to just two main operators at present.

While the low metal prices of the 1990s led to the failure of miner Pasminco Ltd, the recent resurgence in metal prices has returned the sole existing operator, Perilya Limited, to profitability and prompted Consolidated Broken Hill Limited to advance development of the untouched Western Lodes and Centenary Lodes. This created over 70 jobs during development and will lead to a second, new, milling operation built within the town. Although the mining industry is resurgent, labor usage will remain low.

Owing to its exposure to the vagaries of the mining industry, and because of a swiftly shrinking population, similar to other rural centres, and compounded by its isolation, Broken Hill has encouraged its widespread artistic credentials and is promoting itself as a tourism destination in order to become less reliant upon mining as a source of employment.






Broken Hill and the surrounding area has many natural and man-made attractions on offer for the tourist. These include mining operations (some open to the public), a visitor's centre and lookout on top of the original Line of Lode mine, historic buildings, town history walking trails, many resident artists and galleries, the Sculpture Symposium, COBB & Co coach & wagon rides, Silverton Camel Farm, Stephen's Creek, several quarries, lakes, the Mundi-Mundi plains, and terrific sunsets.

Broken Hill is a major base for both the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia and  School of the Air.

The Brushmen of the Bush was a group of artists who formed in Broken Hill in 1973. Members included Pro Hart and Jack Absalom. The Pro Hart Gallery and Sculpture Park contains a large collection of Hart's paintings and sculptures, as well as many artworks of others that he collected during his lifetime. The gallery also features the Rolls Royce that he painted in his unique style.

In 2001 an experimental contemporary art scene emerged with the establishing of an International Artist Residency by the  Broken Hill Art Exchange. The Broken Hill Art Exchangeis an artist run and volunteer based arts organisation situated at the South Side Art Centre. Originally the centre was known as Strickland's or the Duff Street shopping district, with a toy store, butchers, hairdressers, deli, and haberdashery. By the mid 1980s the building fell into disrepair after retail shopping habits changed and many of the businesses located at the centre closed. Artists at the Broken Hill Art Exchange repurposed the site and the area was transformed into a thriving art centre that provides live in studios, and exhibition and art production spaces for local and visiting artists. As well as providing spaces to support the production of art the organisation also coordinates workshops and special projects through its creative consultancy services. The organisation hosts many leading International Australian artists including Shaun Gladwell and has assisted numerous overseas artists to prepare their work for major art events including the Venice and Sydney Biennales'. As an experimental art space the facility is used by university research initiatives, lectures and student groups. Art institutions such as the University of New South Wales, College of Fine Arts Environmental Research Initiative for Art (ERIA) and the International Research Initiative for Art (ILIRI) develop projects at the facility.

Surprisingly, for a town with such a small population, Broken Hill has a burgeoning nightlife. Many clubs exist and are open most nights of the week until late. Establishments catering to both locals and tourists include the Musician's Club and the Democratic Club.

Broken Hill has many literary connections. Crime writer Arthur Upfield developed a nostalgic association with the city after his first visit in 1910, and published The Bachelors of Broken Hill in 1958. Kenneth Cook's 1961 novel Wake in Fright—set in the fictional mining town of Bundanyabba—is a thinly disguised portrait of Broken Hill. Cook based the novel on eccentric ocker characters he befriended in Broken Hill, drawing on their penchant for ritualistic drinking, two-up, and aggressive mateship. The novel was adapted into a 1971 film of the same name, shot on location in Broken Hill and starring Broken Hill native Chips Rafferty in his final film role.  Wake in Fright is now regarded as a seminal film of the Australian New Wave, attracting many more film productions to Broken Hill and the surrounding region, including Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981), Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds (1989) and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994). Mario's Palace, now trading as The Palace Hotel, has the "tack-o-rama" mural featured in The Adventures of Priscilla.

Visitors are often fascinated by the houses with corrugated iron walls. Although corrugated iron was widely used as a roofing material throughout Australia, it was not commonly used for walls of houses.

Because of its rich historic heritage, the City of Broken Hill has been nominated for listing on the Commonwealth National Heritage list (the highest level of heritage protection in Australia) and the nomination will be assessed.

Silverton (which is located 25 klms West of Broken Hill and was established prior to Broken Hill mineral finds in the 1800s) is the home of the MAD MAX 2 MUSEUM, this museum is the only one of its kind in the world and pays homeage to the making of the MAD MAX 2 ROAD WARRIOR film at various locations in and around Broken Hill. Many local people work on the film, some as extras, doubles, and behind the scenes production staff. The museum was established by Adrian and Linda Bennett in 2010 and houses very rare photos, memorabilia and actual film props, plus a number of actual and replica vehicles featured in the film, including the "Interceptor" which was built by Adrian Bennett in the UK before being shipped to Australia to be part of the his Mad Max Museum. This is one of the must see attractions whilst visiting Broken Hill. Many significant movie scenes were shot around Silverton, Mundi Mundi Lookout, Menindee Road, and "the Pinnacles" on the western outskirts of Broken Hill.


Pro Hart's painted Rolls Royce outside the Pro Hart gallery in Broken Hill


Broken Hill houses with walls of corrugated iron, built ca. 1890s and 1900s

 SOURCE:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_Hill,_New_South_Wales




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