I’ve always been enticed by the seductive and mystical quality of wide open spaces and the rich earthy tones that only a desert can provide. Big skies, majestic views, and fortune welcome all those who heed the call. People have been drawn to this area for hundreds of years, seeking a better future in many different avenues. First it was mineral deposits that lured people out this way. Nowadays it’s the scenery, the isolation, the escape from society and the freedom that comes with that. It’s the chance to look back into the remnants of days gone by while absorbing the present moment, which draws tourists out to Broken Hill and its ghost town neighbour, Silverton.
Silverton used to be a bustling mining town, until a larger mine was built in Broken Hill. Most of the residents and even some of the buildings were moved to Broken Hill, leaving the bare bones of a town behind. A handful of abandoned buildings are still scattered around in Silverton. There are about 60 people who call Silverton home today and their tenacity and charm will quickly win you over. Broken Hill and Silverton have an unbreakable historical bond that carries on to this very day, as both towns have become a well-known backdrop for a slew of popular movies such as “Razorback”, “Mad Max II”, “Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”, “Dirty Deeds” and the list goes on.
A true-blue mining town, Broken Hill is full of historic frontier architecture, and a majority of the roads are named after various minerals. On Chloride Street, you’ll find the Silver City Mint. This fascinating art gallery boasts a wide variety of beautiful silver jewellery created by local artists, a selection of gourmet snacks, and ‘The Big Picture’ by local painter, Ando – a magical painting that captures the essence of the outback of NSW on a canvas that is almost 100 meters long!
Silver City Mint
66 Chloride Street,
Broken Hill NSW 2880
(08) 8088 6166
Just 12km out of town you will find the Living Desert State park; home to 12 intricately carved sandstone sculptures, brought to you by artists from all over the world, which stand tall atop a peak overlooking Broken Hill. The area is quiet and meditative, mesmerizing and inspiring, with the perfect surroundings to reflect that groovy feeling. A fantastic place for hiking, having an afternoon BBQ, and the bird watching here is top notch. You can easily organise tours of the park from Broken Hill, or drive there on your own. Opening hours: between 9am -5pm (Mar-Nov) and 6am 2pm (Dec-Feb).
Broken Hill has heaps of accommodation options available to suit every need and budget range. I spent a weekend at the West Darling Hotel and loved every minute of it. Perfect for travellers who are looking for something unusual that has heart and character (definitely not for those seeking luxury). The cracked, faded, and peeling paint on the walls, the warped floorboards, the haunted feel of the long corridors, the wrap around balcony where you can almost see the 1800’s come alive, all added something special to the whole adventure!
West Darling Hotel
Argent St (Corner of Oxide Street),
Broken Hill NSW 2880
(08) 8087 2691
To find out more about attractions and accommodation in Broken Hill, follow the link below:
To get to Silverton; there are a few busses and tour companies that will take you out to Silverton for the day. You can easily book this from Broken Hill however the freedom of renting a car will do you a number of favours, as there is too much to see in Silverton for just a day trip! On your way to, or from, Silverton make sure you allow time to take a camel ride at Barrier Ranges Camel Safaris. The camels here are actually related to the ones that you saw in the Mad Max movies! There are a few different options ranging from half hour jaunts to half day trips and even longer trips can be arranged as well. They also offer nightime moonlight rides, which I’ll make sure to indulge in the next time I’m out that way. The tours are very affordable, informative and fun, and surprisingly the camels are very easy to ride. You’ll instantly fall in love with these beautiful docile creatures that are perfectly suited for the desert. And don’t worry – these camels have been trained not to spit… I asked! The owner even makes his own handcrafted saddles ensuring a comfortable ride, and I must say I found it to be much more comfortable than riding a horse! Located 25km from Broken Hill on the Silverton Road, just before the town of Silverton.
Barrier Ranges Camel Safaris
Ph#: (08) 8088 5316
When you arrive in Silverton you’ll certainly be hungry. Take a load off and grab a bite to eat at the famous Silverton Hotel. A real hot spot for filmmakers, many movies and countless commercials have used the Silverton Hotel as their stage. My favourite band INXS stopped in here in 1992 and there are a few pictures of the band visiting the hotel on the wall, along with hundreds of rare behind-the-scenes photos of various movies shot in the area. Enjoy the simple Australian fare, great service and atmosphere while admiring the unforgettable surroundings. And if you time it right, there is a one-of-a-kind stage in the back courtyard that hosts live music fairly regularly, giving you a chance to let your hair down with the locals – an experience not to be missed!
A must-see for all visitors to Silverton is the Mad Max Museum. For anyone who’s seen Mad Max II, this attraction will absolutely blow you away! A true celebration of an important facet of Aussie culture, the museum is great for fans and lookie-loos alike. I recently had a chance to chat with prominent Silverton figure, and owner of the Mad Max Museum, Adrian Bennett. He’s hands-down one of the most inspiring individuals I’ve ever met in all my travels. Truth be told; I’d never even seen Mad Max II before I visited the Museum! However, I heard the story of a man who moved his whole family here from England with the intent of opening a museum dedicated to Mad Max II in the area where the movie was filmed. The story struck a chord with me immediately and I knew I had to see it with my own eyes. For a person to follow their dreams so unabashedly and have the courage to fly in the face of convention against all odds is a rare and beautiful thing. I consider myself fortunate that I was able to take part in such an exceptional place. Here, Adrian shares with the TravelGoss community some of his favourite things about the area and a few of his most memorable moments at the museum:
“Owning and running the museum has been a joy since the doors opened in 2010. We have met some incredible people and make new friends on a daily basis. We have had some great shows filmed at the museum and meeting famous people from TV has been a real honour for us. Many of the original cast and crew from Mad Max 2 have visited the museum with still many others I’ve met, promising to call and see us. One of the biggest highlights for the museum was in September 2012 when Mad Max 2 villain Vernon Wells visited the museum over a 2 day period. This was such an incredible experience and a real honour for me as Vernon was my hero from the film and to think that 31 years after I first watched the movie not only would I build a museum where the movie was made but also have one of the stars of the film come and visit is sometimes still hard to comprehend!”
“When ordinary people end up in an extra-ordinary situation it sometimes makes you wonder why, and since I arrived in Australia there were certain coincidences that happened in my ‘journey’ to the outback that made me wonder if certain things were just meant to be! All of these coincidences came together, to bring me to one of the most beautiful and unique places in Australia. Of course you could say I was biased purely because I was drawn to Broken Hill and more-so Silverton because of my fascination with Mad Max 2 which was filmed in the area but, it goes way beyond that for me now.”
“One of the most incredible things to witness is the sun setting at the beautiful Mundi Mundi Lookout just 5 kms past Silverton where the curvature of the earth can clearly be seen! Even the walking trails are incredible and not knowing what wildlife is going to pop up and greet you is also an added bonus for that photo opportunity. The area is rich with history and full of great characters with stories to tell. It’s also a must for stargazers, something I do often due to the perfectly clear night sky out here in Silverton. Just being surrounded by the great Australian outback and bushland in every direction gives you a sense of freedom that everyone should experience.”
“I think the area has a magical magnetic pull on people, it’s why artists and musicians and movie makers come here. For film makers it has the perfect backdrop, clear light and just an all-around great looking place which has everything to offer them for those perfect shots. Artists are spoiled by the incredible landscape and peaceful surroundings in which to work and the great history and people of the area supply enough stories for the lyrics of any song. It’s sometimes hard to explain why a place is so special, you really have to experience it for yourself and see why so many people fall in love with this stunningly beautiful place.” – (Adrian Bennett)
Mad Max II Museum
Silverton, NSW 2880
Mon – Sun: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
On the edge of town, you’ll find the Silverton Cemetery. Take a glimpse at the hard truths and harsh realities the local mining families would’ve faced out here in the 1800’s; things like Typhoid epidemics, mining disasters, unsafe, overheated and cramped working conditions, fibrosis and emphysema due to poor air circulation in the mines, all this took a toll on the residents of Silverton. It’s a place full of powerful stories. I found that visiting this small cemetery gave me a perspective on what life out here would have been like and made me appreciate just how much easier our modern life is. It’s an eye opening experience to spend a moment to realize what it actually takes to dig these minerals out of the earth that so many of us have taken for granted for generations.
If you’re looking for a place to stay in Silverton, I recommend Penrose Park. The site was built in the early 20th century for miners and their families to have a place to relax and escape the hardships of the times. Fully equipped with powered caravan sites, campsites, and dorm style cabins, Penrose Park is a wonderful place to spend the weekend with the family and friends. The park is absolutely teeming with wildlife, the air is clean and the owners are very friendly and helpful. The perfect spot for a picnic, a BBQ, or even a game of tennis!
Lot 34 Silverton Rd
Silverton NSW 2880
(08) 8088 5307
For more info on Silverton visit:
*How to get there:
Broken Hill is accessible by a limited service of Regional Express flights: http://www.regionalexpress.com.au/
Countrylink offers train service from Sydney to Broken Hill:
Vline offers service from Melbourne to Mildura, (then arrange bus to Broken Hill in Mildura):
*There is a shuttle bus, and tour companies that operate between Silverton and Broken Hill.
If you have the time available, and access to a vehicle, this area makes a spectacular destination for a road trip from major cities such as Sydney, Adelaide or Melbourne. The effort it takes to get there adds to the satisfaction of a genuine outback experience! No matter how you choose to get there and away, rest assured that Broken Hill, Silverton and the surrounding area will easily find a way into your heart!
Click here to read more about Tina’s adventures on her blog.
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