SO WE’RE BACK!
We’re back on the road and just so happy to be living in our little home on wheels again. The last few months at home have been stressful and crazy to say the least, so much uncertainty, anxiety and in all honesty, boredom. So we are so grateful to be able to pick up our trip again and continue exploring and sharing as many of Australia’s most beautiful destinations as we can.
One of our first stops was Broken Hill, and exploring a little more of Outback New South Wales. Thom comes up this way a couple of times a year on fishing and hunting trips, but I had never been before. I always love outback towns and wide open spaces, so it was great to be able to restart our trip in Broken Hill, as well as checking out some of the surrounding towns. Let’s just get straight into it, shall we…
In this post:
How to get to Broken Hill
Located in the outback of New South Wales, Broken Hill can be found about halfway between the Queensland border in the north and the Victorian border in the south, only 25 kilometres from the border with South Australia in the west of the state.You can actually fly directly into Broken Hill Airport (BHQ) with Rex Airlines for the quickest travel time. There are direct flights into the outback town from Adelaide, Sydney, Dubbo, Griffith and Mildura, with connections to other major cities around the country.
From Adelaide it’s a 5 hour 45 minute trip by road, along the Barrier Highway. If you’re travelling from Melbourne the drive takes 9 hours along the Calder Highway through Mildura. Sydney is actually the furthest away despite being in the same state, with the road trip taking 13 hours through the Blue Mountains, Mudgee and Dubbo and then onto the Barrier Highway.
Things to do in Broken Hill
If you have some time to explore Broken Hill and the surrounding outback country NSW, here are some of the things you won’t want to miss!
1. Have a drink at the Silverton Hotel
The Silverton Hotel is an iconic outback pub in seemingly the middle of nowhere in NSW, and is one of our favourite spots near Broken Hill. Open literally all day every day (5am until midnight Monday to Satursday and 10am to 10pm on Sundays), the hotel is extremely popular, especially for it’s remote location. They offer meals, snacks and drinks all day long, and also offer hotel rooms if you would like to stay the night.
Hot tip: Due to the pubs popularity, visit in the early morning if you want to capture an image of the pub without a line up of cars parked in the way.
Other things to do in Silverton
The Silverton Hotel isn’t the only reason to visit the area though, Silverton is actually jam packed with things to see and do. Some of the best include:
- Visit the Mad Max Museum
- See artist John Dynon at work and check out some of his best pieces
- Explore the history of the town at the Silverton Goal
- Meet the friendly local donkeys that like to roam up and down the main streets
2. See the views from the Miners Memorial
For the best views over the city head up to the Line of Lode Lookout at the Miners Memorial. Sitting on the edge of the mine that is literally positioned right in the middle of the city, the memorial holds the names of more than 800 miners who lost their lives working in the Broken Hill mines since the late 1800s. From the lookout you can see right across the city, all the way out to the ranges in the distance.
There is a small visitors centre next to the memorial, with a cafe offering drinks and snacks. Grab a seat by the window to enjoy the view if it’s too cold when you visit. The winds up there can be quite strong!
Line of Lode Miners Memorial || Federation Way, Broken Hill || Open daily from 9am until 5pm
3. Dinner at the Palace Hotel
The Palace Hotel was famously featured in the iconic movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Famous for it’s heavily decorated walls, featuring all kinds of murals and paintings, the hotel hasn’t changed much since the days of the movie and is a great place to grab a drink and a meal and experience this unique part of the city.
Most of the rooms at the hotel are decorated in quite a modern clean style, but if you’re hoping to soak up more of the Queen of the Desert vibes, check into the Priscilla Suite and stay right where the stars of the movie stayed! Definitely the most unique place to stay in Broken Hill. [Above image from the Palace Hotel website].
The Palace Hotel || 227 Argent Street, Broken Hill || (08) 8088 1699
If you really want the FULL Priscilla Queen of the Desert experience, visit Broken Hill during their annual Broken Heel Festival, where Drag Queens and Drag Kings head to the outback to perform all kinds of entertainment, comedy and cabaret shows, live music, and activities to pay tribute to the iconic movie. There’s even a huge street parade called the Main Drag In Drag that gets the whole community involved!
Unfortunately the 2020 festival was cancelled due to the pandemic, so mark your calendars for next year if you want to get involved – the festival will be held from the 9th to the 13th of September 2021.
4. Visit the Royal Flying Doctors Visitors Centre
If there’s one thing you do during your visit to Broken Hill, let it be a visit to the Royal Flying Doctors Visitors Centre and take a guided tour. The Royal Flying Doctors Service has been operating in Broken Hill since 1936, providing medical support and care to the many tiny outback towns and stations that are remotely located around the NSW outback. There are several Royal Flying Doctors bases around Australia, but Broken Hill is the original and the biggest, looking after an area of 640,000,000 square kilometres.
Take a tour to learn more about the Royal Flying Doctor Service’s beginnings, how it grew and developed to become one of Australia’s most reputable charities and how the Queen gave them permission to use the word Royal in their name. You even get to check out the hanger at the Broken Hill Airport to see some of the planes used by the service throughout the years.
The Royal Flying Doctors Visitors Centre and gift shop is open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm on the weekends. A guided tour costs $12.50 per person and is highly recommended to make the most out of your visit.
The Clive Bishop Medical Centre, Royal Flying Doctor Service || Broken Hill Airport Precinct || (08) 8080 3780
5. See the world’s largest canvas painting
Found within the caves of the Silver City Art Centre & Mint, the “Big Picture” is an incredible canvas painting of Broken Hill and the surrounding country landscape. Hanging in a circular room the painting is 100 metres long, 12 meters high and required more than 9 tonnes of paint to complete.
It took the artist, Peter Anderson, more than two years to complete and is actually really quite amazing to see. The landscape completely sucks you in, giving you the feeling of being right in the middle of the painting as it circles all around you. On your way out you can also grab all kinds of chocolatey treats from the local chocolate factory.
The Silver City Art Centre & Mint is open from 10am to 4pm each day and costs $7.50 to visit the Big Picture and the main part of the gallery.
Silver City Art Centre & Mint || 66 Chloride Street, Broken Hill || (08) 8088 6166
6. The Living Desert Sculpture Park
Sitting amongst the Barrier Ranges, the Living Desert Sculpture Park is 12 kilometres out of Broken Hill, in the middle of a large nature reserve. Created in 1993, this little hilltop overlooking the city was transformed into an outdoor art gallery, with a collection of sandstone sculptures on display from all around the world. There are pieces here by artists from the Tiwi Islands, Australia, Mexico, Syria and Georgia.
Visit at sunset for the stunning views over the ranges, as well as to see the sculptures light up as the sun dips slowly behind them. At the bottom of the hill you can also check out the John Simons Flora & Fauna Sanctuary, where a 2.2 kilometre cultural walking trail will lead you through native wildflowers, scenic lookouts, a prospectors mine site and past many local red kangaroos.
The Sculpture Site is open from 8:30am until half an hour after sunset from March to November, and opening at 6am during the summer months from December to February. Admission costs $6 per adult, and you can purchase your ticket from the PayBay at the park entrance.
7. Visit the local art galleries
It might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Broken Hill, but this outback town is actually extremely into its art and culture. So much so in fact that there are actually twice as many art galleries as pubs in the city. Save yourself some time to explore some of the galleries around the city, showcasing all different artists, styles of art and cultural pieces.
Some of the best local galleries include:
- Pro Hart Gallery: Broken Hill’s highest profile artist, this gallery was designed by the late artist himself, with many of his pieces on display. A highlight of any visit to Broken Hill.
- Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery: The oldest regional gallery in New South Wales, things are always changing here, with many touring exhibitions coming into the gallery each year.
- The Palace Hotel: Despite being a hotel, this is almost a gallery itself. With mural paintings covering many of the walls and ceilings around the hotel, you can come for a drink and a meal or just a look around the hotel.
- Silver City Art Centre & Mint: Home to the world’s largest canvas painting, as well as heaps of other paintings of beautiful outback NSW landscapes.
8. Check out the views from the Mundi Mundi Lookout
Keep driving past Silverton and you will find the Mundi Mundi plains. Out here there is just NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. It’s actually so amazing to see in real life, how wide and expansive our country is. How remote and completely removed some of these places are from our main cities.
The Mundi Mundi lookout stops you at the perfect place to appreciate the rolling hills of the plains and offers a great viewpoint over the remote outback of New South Wales. It’s a unique part of the country to experience and one that you won’t forget any time soon.
9. See the local street art
Art isn’t just reserved for the galleries in Broken Hill. On many of the streets in the city centre you will find stunning murals keeping the streets beautiful and colourful. There are some great Aboriginal art pieces found around the streets, really giving the city a great feel. Take yourself on a walking tour around the main streets to check out as many as possible.
Where to stay in Broken Hill
While we were in Broken Hill we checked in to the Broken Hill Tourist Park and highly recommend the park. Located close to the city, the park is in a great location for exploring, staff are extremely friendly and helpful, they offer free wifi and they are pet friendly, so you can bring your pups along!
And to address that one thing every camper thinks about – the park has BEAUTIFUL bathrooms. Honestly, they must have only been recently built, with spacious luxurious showers that really make you feel like home. Campsites were lined with chip-bark which was also fantastic, really makes for a much cleaner caravan experience.
The Broken Hill Tourist Park is also part of the Top Parks family, so you can use your G’Day Membership here for a discount on your stay.
Broken Hill Tourist Park || 142 Rakow Street (Barrier Highway), Broken Hill || 1800 803 842