Travel to the furthest reaches of western NSW to Broken Hill, about a 13-hour drive or 2.5-hour flight from Sydney, to explore a town of contrasts and unexpected discoveries. Founded as a frontier mining town, Broken Hill has evolved as an eclectic destination of artistic creativity. Its ochre rocks and national parks have been home to ancient Aboriginal storytelling for millennia. In this jewel of the outback and Australia’s first heritage-listed city, feel a million miles away and connect with its seemingly endless earth.
Be inspired by artistic expression
As you wander around outdoor art installations under cobalt skies and tour prized galleries, feel a sense of awe at the boundless artistry. Tour the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery, founded in 1904 with more than 2,000 works of art on display and witness the whimsy and kaleidoscope of colourful brushstrokes synonymous with artist Kevin ‘Pro’ Hart at The Pro Hart Gallery. Set on the site where he once lived, you can marvel at his vivid individuality expressed in his hand-painted Rolls Royce, sculptures, and paintings.
At the Howard Steer Art Studios be entertained by the work of the satirical, local Broken Hill artist, known as the ‘Flying Doctor’ artist. Step inside a painting as you take in the scale of the world’s largest acrylic painting on canvas by a single artist: Peter Anderson. His 12-metre high and nearly 100-metre long painting The Big Picture, displayed at the Silver City Art Centre and Mint, is a particular feat of skill despite Anderson never having a single art lesson.
Outdoors, connect to nature while visiting the Living Desert and Sculptures in the Barrier Ranges. Enjoy a late afternoon stroll along the 900-metre pathway amid dusty earth and kangaroos bouncing through the vegetation to view spectacular sandstone sculptures. Soak up the last of the sun’s rays and watch as they cast a golden glow on the chiselled artworks.
Give in to childlike-wonder and cinematic fantasy in Silverton, 25km northwest of town, the backdrop of films including Mad Max II, Mission Impossible 2 and A Town Like Alice. View the imaginative vehicles created for Mad Max II – The Road Warrior at the Mad Max Museum.
Connect with the soul of the outback
Gain perspective of the remarkable landscapes as you take an adventurous drive 130km out of town on burnt orange, earthy roads to reach the starting point of the Aboriginal-owned Mutawintji Heritage Tours. As your guide shares sacred secrets of ochre hand stencils, rock engravings or a bush tucker workshop, feel a deep connection to the oldest living culture on earth.
In Silverton, step back in time as you tour with Silverton Outback Camels. Perched high on camel-back, take in the picturesque scenery as guides share their knowledge of the area and their beloved camels.
As the sun begins to embed itself in the earth and night descends, allow the skies to envelop you at Mundi Mundi Plains lookout. Experience the magic of the sunset in the outback as you gaze across extensive plains.
Watch in awe as a dazzling constellation of stars sparkle overhead in the clear, inky black skies. In a purpose-built facility at the Outback Astronomy Experience, listen to legendary celestial tales through expert commentary. You can even stay overnight afterwards in the property’s one glamping tent and roast marshmallows by a campfire.
Dine in classic or unique surrounds
The dining scene is as colourful and diverse as the rest of Broken Hill. Browse the gourmet produce while waiting for your morning coffee at Thom, Dick & Harry’s or try The Deli – both located on Argent Street. Savour a cool beer, cocktail or glass of wine at the nearby Broken Hill Pub; or for a quintessential outback pub experience, drop in to the iconic Silverton Hotel and feel the pioneering character of Broken Hill – you can even pat the pub’s resident, beer-loving donkeys.
Feast on wholesome meals at local eateries, including Café Alfresco or The Silly Goat, which caters to vegans and raw-food fans.
In South Broken Hill, feel nostalgic at the 1950s-themed Bell’s Milk Bar, Australia’s oldest milk bar operating since 1892. Sip on childhood favourites such as a milkshake or soda spider before touring its iconic museum.
Feel the warmth of outback hospitality
Absorb the town’s history during a stay in a 1911 Romanesque-style church at Broken Hill Outback Church Stay; in an 1890s heritage building in town, The Astra; or at the Art Deco Royal Exchange Hotel. Sleep under twinkling skies in a swag at working sheep and cattle property Eldee Station – or stay in its old shearers’ quarters for a true farm experience.
Alternatively, wake to the views of Sturt desert peas and wildflowers at the Living Desert State Park at its Starview Campsite.
With its historic ceilings and walls adorned with grandiose murals of Australian landscapes painted in the 1970s, The Palace Hotel is flamboyant, fun and a one-of-a-kind classic hotel. It was featured in the 1994 classic Australian movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Each year in September, the Palace becomes the focal point for the annual Broken Heel Festival, a three-day extravaganza paying homage to the film, drag queen culture and Australia’s LGBTQI+ community.