Experience a different kind of outback in Broken Hill

Experience a different kind of outback in Broken Hill

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With its striking landscapes, the region has a strong community of artists, a vibrant drag culture and a strong Aboriginal cultural heritage.


Aussies are being urged to experience 'a different kind of outback' in NSW's Broken Hill and its surrounds.

The NSW Government has launched a new marketing campaign aimed at couples in their late-40s to early 60s. With the tagline 'It's Out There' the campaign shines a spotlight on Broken Hill and the Central Darling Region.

"Many people have heard of Broken Hill but what they don't realised is how many incredible quirky and diverse experiences this region has to offer," said minister for tourism Stuart Ayres.

With its striking landscapes, the region has a strong community of artists, a vibrant drag culture and a strong Aboriginal cultural heritage.

So here's a look at Broken Hill and what's on offer:

Culture lovers: drag, art and film

Broken Hill has been associated with drag since the Aussie classic film The AdventuresofPriscilla, Queen of the Desert was released in 1994.

Scenes were filmed in the historic Palace Hotel - you can stay in the same room that the characters stayed in, which has been renamed the Priscilla Suite and decorated flamboyantly. You can take part in drag bingo on the first Tuesday of every month. In September the best queens from around the country descend on the town for the four-day Broken Heel Festival.

There's more for film buffs - Mad Max 2 was shot around Broken Hill and released in 1972. Visit the Mad Max Museum in Silverton and wander through the large collection of photographs, costumes and memorabilia.

The region has a long history of attracting artists, inspired by the surreal landscape. Two of the region's well known painters were Pro Hart and Jack Absalom; both popularised outback painting and have galleries in Broken Hill. You'll find contemporary artists at Willy Nilly Art Gallery while Broken Hill Regional Galley has an excellent calendar of exhibitions. A highlight is the annual Maari Ma Indigenous Art Awards, displayed between February and May, which showcases works by artists from the Far West.

In Wilcannia, the Queens Head Hotel has recently been transformed into a gallery, with exhibitions by local artists. Also in town you'll find works by Aboriginal artist Eddy Harris from the Barkandji clan. He also offers tours showing local flora and fauna, bushfood and culturally significant sites.

An ancient history

The Wilyakali people have occupied the lands around Broken Hill for thousands of years and continue to care for the environment and maintain their traditional knowledge to pass onto the younger generations. The Barkandji people are from in the lower Darling River area and part of Menindee Lakes.

A day in the Mutawintji National Park is a uniquely Australian experience - along with the ruggedly beautiful desert landscape, you'll find evidence of continuous use by Aboriginal people for thousands of years, including hand stencils and other important cultural sites.

Take part in a tour by Mutawanji Heritage tours - all run by Aboriginal accredited guides. The half-day Kulluwirru Dreaming tour takes you to the historic site with rock engravings and ochre stencil, or join a full-day bush tucker tour.

Red desert and a glittering night sky

Broken Hill and the surrounding area offering a breathtaking range of diverse landscapes. Photography enthusiasts will love capturing the golden light - especially at the Living Desert Reserve. In it are 12 sandstone artworks which highlight the skyline, each with its own story. Also in the reserve is the Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, 180 hectares of native plants with a cultural trail, Sturt Pea wildflower display and Aboriginal attractions.

Stay at the historic homestead Bindara Station to explore local wildlife on your doorstep. Located on the banks of the Darling River in between Menindee and Pooncarie, you can explore the river flats and sand hills, home to kangaroos, emus, echidnas, turtles and many reptiles. During spring and after rain the landscape will burst to life with native flowers. A self-guided walk will take you to the old cemetery, with headstones from 1877.

The outback is opal country and the oldest commercial opal field is in White Cliffs, a small town known for its 'pineapple' opals with a spiky shape. Many houses and buildings have been built underground to escape the heat, giving the town an unusual landscape. A White Cliffs Bus Tour will give you a good overview of the town and its history.

Make sense of what you see in the sky at night with Outback Astronomy. The Sky Shows introduce you to stars, constellations and other objects by a knowledgeable guide. The new glamping and gazing experience has only one tent on site for full privacy, with deck chairs, a stocked fridge and barbeque facilities.

The Mundi Mundi Plains near Silverton is the perfect spot for a champagne picnic at dusk. From the top of the hill, the flat plains stretch out for eternity and watching the light change as the sun sets is unforgettable.

Sleep under the stars or underground

From bush campsites to rooms in simple pubs and fine heritage homesteads, there's plenty of accommodation in Broken Hill and the Central Darling region.

In Broken Hill, stay in a stone miner's cottage at A Miner's Rest, enjoy deluxe or superior suites at the Art Deco Royal Exchange Hotel, or stay at four-star The Astra in a restored 1890s heritage building right in the centre of town.

The historic Mt Gipps Hotel, which began serving thirsty travellers in 1890, has been reborn as the Broken Hill Outback Resort.

The Silverton Hotel has famous film credentials (Mad Max 2, Razorback, The Craig) and offers an iconic pub atmosphere along with spacious, modern rooms. About 30 minutes from the town of Silverton, in the Mundi Mundi Plains, Eldee Station provides a quintessential country experience with open-plan eco-friendly rooms and swag hire in a rural setting with animals to see, a plunge pool to cool off in and tours such as stargazing and mountain biking.

For something unique, White Cliffs Underground Motel provides a honeycomb of whitewashed rooms deep within 120-milllion-year-old sedimentary rock. It's the world's largest underground accommodation.

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service offers heritage accommodation in the heart of Outback NSW's national parks as well as bush campsites. In Paroo-Darling National Park spend the day exploring the Darling River and stay in the Coach and Horses bush camp with views up and down the river. The Kinchega Shearer's Quarters in Kinchega National Park near Menindee are traditional workers' quarters offering six basic but air-conditioned guest rooms, a shared kitchen along with a fascinating insight into Australia's pastoral history.

Getting there

Broken Hill is a great road trip destination - it's a 13-hour drive from Sydney, 11 from Canberra and nine from Melbourne. You can also fly into Broken Hill airport from Sydney daily and hire a car to explore.

The Broken Hill Outback Explorer train operates weekly to and from Sydney and Broken Hill. Daily XPT train services to Dubbo with coach connections to Broken Hill, Bourke and Lightning Ridge are also available. For more details click HERE.

Find out more at visitnsw.com/brokenhill