Travelling Australia - Journal 2012
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25-30 July 2012 - Broken Hill
Argent Street in Broken Hill
Argent Street in Broken Hill; this is the main shopping and business street. The red brick tower is on the Post Office.
The weather continued variable during our time in Broken Hill. Several days were very windy and the caravan park resonated to the sound of flapping awnings; one or two days were sunny but cool, the rest were mostly cloudy.

Broken Hill is laid out in the traditional rectangular street pattern but this appears to have been superimposed over a network of main road entering and leaving the town, often at an angle to the rectangular grid. This dual system gives rise to a complex street layout, especially when the rectangular grid is not complete with roads ending unexpectedly, or running at odd angles. Finding a destination is not that difficult but the route can be tortuous. Driving around Broken Hill is made more interesting by the poor state of some road surfaces; they look alright until driven on when the unevenness becomes obvious. Some roads are particularly rough and avoiding them makes navigating around the town slightly more complicated. The main roads are mostly reasonable to drive on with the roughness restricted to many lesser roads.

Aerial View
Broken Hill from the lookout on the Miners Memorial
Broken Hill is in New South Wales but close to the South Australian border and Adelaide is the closest capital. Broken Hill is on Central time conforming with South Australia but vehicles are registered in New South Wales. Local television stations broadcast programmes originating in Sydney or Adelaide with Sydney programmes half an hour early. Television news comes from either depending on the channel selected and weather forecasts are for Adelaide or Sydney so they are almost a waste of time. Newspapers available in newsagents are confusing; The Advertiser from Adelaide appears to be most popular; Melbourne papers (The Age and the Herald-Sun) are readily available but Sydney papers don't appear in the newsagents until the afternoon (except on Sunday when they are there in the morning).

Line of Lode Mullock Heap
The Line of Lode mullock heap looming over the city is a reminder of the hill of rich ore once standing in the middle of the Broken Hill. The building on the right on top of the hill is the visitor centre and restaurant; on the left is the memorial to dead miners.
The main shopping and business street (Argent Street) is straight and flat. The road is lined on both sides by a large number of hotels or buildings which look as if they were built as hotels (two stories with upper verandah and many wooden poles along the front). A new shopping centre a kilometre or so away from Argent Street contains Woolworths, Big W and a variety of shops. Another supermarket containing Coles and a large Target store is planned nearby. Parts of the residential areas a few blocks back from Argent Street are quite hilly; Broken Hill certainly is not flat.

Car parking along the street or in supermarket car parks is generally easy. Usually there is a vacant spot near the destination; if not, parking is available a short walk away. In the week we visited, the lack of crowding or congestion in Broken Hill was obvious; we suspect that a person who grew up in Broken Hill would get a rude surprise if they moved to Adelaide, Melbourne or Sydney and had to deal with congested roads and crowds of people.

Kintore Headframe The head-frame from Kintore mine relocated in 1984 to be opposite the Visitor Information Centre. This was the structure used, with a steam winding engine, to lower and raise cages so miners could get to and from the underground workface; the same frame and winding engine raised bins full of ore financing the whole enterprise. This was an early timber head-frame (steel replaced timber from the 1930s) which, eventually, could not handle the volume of ore being extracted; much larger rectangular and circular shafts were adopted from the 1920s in major mines. Steam winding engines were replaced by electrical ones in the 1930s when a Central Power Station was built.

The town is completely overshadowed by a 30 metre high mullock heap running parallel with Argent Street. This is the result of decades of digging up the ore which prompted the town's existence. The mullock heap is a permanent reminder that Broken Hill was established to dig up silver-lead-zinc ore. The best ore was mined-out decades ago and mining is no longer the sole reason for the town, but mining continues. Tourism aspects of the mining history are being developed and there are some very well prepared historical information panels at lookouts around Broken Hill.

Dotted around Broken Hill are the remains of abandoned, now derelict, mining machinery. Sometimes only concrete machinery bases remains. Landscaping has restored many of these areas or informative boards prepared explaining the machinery. In a way, abandoned machinery has been left for so long it has transformed into a historical asset. The amount of abandoned machinery makes it impossible for a visitor to overlook the mining history of Broken Hill.

The population is declining and the future for Broken Hill is unclear. Attempts to develop tourism are reported to be designed to give the town an economic future. The large number of museums (minerals, transport, mining and other topics) gives tourists a wide choice. In parallel with tourism is a plan to develop Broken Hill as an art centre; this follows the emergence and success of local artists such as Pro Hart.

Miner Memorial
The miners memorial on top of the Line of Lode mullock heap overlooking Broken Hill. Inside the memorial there are plaques naming each miner killed with the date, mine and cause of death.
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