Go for broke in Broken Hill


A town located in the New South Wales outback may not strike you as the ideal destination, but there are plenty of reasons to visit Australia’s only National Heritage Listed city – Broken Hill.


Just beyond the Darling River at a place the locals say is ‘the edge of sundown’, lies Broken Hill – a lost world where dinky-di Australian heritage meets the modern world.


Here, beautiful blue skies emit a magical light favoured by filmmakers. It’s the location where movies such as Mission Impossible, Mad Max 2 and Priscilla Queen of the Desert (amongst others) were filmed, and its scintillating landscape of dark red soils and soft mauve and sage hues inspire artists and creatives.


mad max 2 museum broken hill


Located near the South Australian border, midway between the borders of Queensland and Victoria, with a population of just over 18,000 people, the City of Broken Hill boasts a thriving mining and service industry that receives over 150,000 tourists each year.


The birthplace of multinational mega corp BHP, Broken Hill is now recognised as Australia’s first Heritage-listed city, in recognition of its significant contributions to mining, employment and cultural history.


Once a home to Australia’s largest ore body, the town is realising the end of its mining life and has set its sights on attracting travellers to the region.


So, for a true taste of Outback living, coupled with all the convenience and culture one could muster, Broken Hill is the perfect destination after a lively road trip through Australian countryside.


Why? Well here are five fantastic reasons.


two up at the palace hotel


The Palace Hotel
At The Palace Hotel, you can try your hand at Australia’s traditional gambling game, Two-up. As many of you may know, Two-up is traditionally played on ANZAC Day, but on all other days of the year, it is deemed illegal.


For most of the 20th century, an illicit Two-up school operated in Broken Hill, just up the road from The Palace Hotel. The school was shut down by police in 1984, but in recognition of Two-up being ‘an established part of the cultural heritage of this mining city’, The Palace Hotel was granted a permit for Two-up to be played every day of the year.


I asked Esther LaRovere, the Managing Director of The Palace Hotel, if she could recall any memorable games of Two-up at the hotel.


“As for most memorable? Plenty!” said Esther.


And what makes them so memorable?


“The cacophony of calls of bets over a game and watching the excitement on a winner’s face. We had David Wenham and Alex Dimitriades here on the weekend having a spin,” she said.



You can catch a game of Two-up at the Palace on Fridays from 9pm.


Experience mining history
Experience an authentic historic mine when you wander down the shafts of Day Dream Mine. Descending deep underground, you’ll feel what it was like to wield a pick and axe, and get a sense of the harsh life led by thousands of miners who have walked these very same tunnels.


Or, if you’re not one for burrowing beneath the earth, you can do a walk-through at White’s Mineral Art and Living Mining Museum, with an illustrated journey through the history of Broken Hill relayed by models and replicas.



Get about the galleries
Broken Hill has more galleries than pubs, with more than 20 art establishments displaying the works of local and Indigenous artists, as well as many touring exhibitions. Don’t miss the Big Picture which, at almost 100m long, is the world’s largest acrylic painting on canvas by a single artist.


broken hill galleries


And while you’re there, head out to see the Living Desert and Sculptures – a living monument to art represented by 12 awesome sandstone sculptures set amid the red sands of the Flora and Fauna Sanctuary. From ancient and contemporary artists, to the works of Margaret Preston, Arthur Streeton, Charles Blackman (to name a few) and the brushmen of the bush, Broken Hill is becoming a mecca for the visual arts.

sandstone sculpture at Broken Hill

Go underground
One of the more unusual towns just outside (280kms) of Broken Hill is White Cliffs – an opal mining town where, similar to Coober Pedy, the locals live underground to escape the heat. The White Cliffs Underground Motel provides visitors with a unique opportunity to experience life underground. The hotel has operated for over 20 years and attracts visitors from all over the world. And don’t forget to spoil yourself with an opal!


room at the white cliffs underground motel

photo: www.undergroundmotel.com.au

The Line of Lode Miner’s Memorial
Overlooking Broken Hill is one of the most spectacular memorials in Australia – certainly one with the most stunning views of the NSW Outback. The Line of Lode Miner’s Memorial serves as an icon for Broken Hill and the mining industry representing and memorialising the 800 miners who have died since mining commenced in Broken Hill in 1883.


line of lode miners memorial broken hill


For tourism information, please visit the Broken Hill Visitor Information Centre


Have you been to Broken Hill? If so, what were your impressions?


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