Silverton and Broken Hill

Trip Start Apr 05, 2011
Trip End Nov 15, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Monday, April 2, 2012

It was a glorious morning and it was a shame to be leaving our tranquil surroundings at Willow Bend on the banks of the Darling River. The swans, ducks and constant activity from a variety of birds along the river made for such a lovely relaxing stay.

Several hours and several hundred kilometres further along we arrived in Broken Hill.  The streets were deserted for it was a Sunday and we found it hard to get a real feel for the essence of the town.  The main street was lined with an array of impressive buildings which would have any architectural fan in raptures.  The back streets were filled with charming little workman cottages, row upon row all neatly set side by side, a living history of this most interesting town.

We had decided to base ourselves out at Silverton for our time in the area and enjoyed the 25 kilometres drive along undulating road (there is said to be 39 dips between Broken Hill and Silverton).  The landscape was not unlike that of the Pilbara with rich red soil and a low growing soft yellowy green foliage.

The only camping area in Silverton is at Penrose Park an old sporting complex with fields, ovals and courts scattered throughout.  We found ourselves a fabulous little grassy site right beside a big rotunda and set up camp.  It was so nice to step out onto such thick lush grass and to be able to sit up in the rotunda overlooking the grounds.

Taking a drive around Silverton, its wide gravel streets and stunning stone houses built in the late 1800's had us feeling like we had driven onto a movie set.  There is no wonder this town has featured in so many flicks over the years.  We ventured into a couple of the galleries and businesses before going out to Mundi Mundi Lookout.  The lookout offers spectacular views over the Mundi Mundi Plains from which it is said you can see the curvature of the earth with the naked eye.

We dropped the car back at the park and took the heritage walk across into town, we walked through the donkey fence and out of the park and the path disappeared!  Across the wide red expanse of the creek bed lined with massive red river gums we found the other end of the track and headed straight to the Silverton Hotel.

This hotel was a fantastic little country pub, oozing charm.  A blend of friendly staff, interesting memorabilia, nice clientele and to top it off a stunning stone building steeped in history.  We got talking to Patsy and her husband Pete, the current owners.  Patsy grew up in Silverton and lived opposite the pub, kicking the football along the gravel road just as kids do today, despite all the progress out in the big wide world not much has changed in Silverton and that is what is so very charming about it.  As much as Broken Hill would love Silverton to fall under its jurisdiction it is independent and hopes to stay that way with just a town committee.

Having watched as the late afternoon sun lit up the old stone buildings of the town and then the gorgeous sunset transformed the sky it was time to head back to our camp.  To our surprise, despite having acres of land to choose from two couples had decided to set up tents right beside us, so much for being out in big open spaces!  It would not have been that bad only one of the men was the loudest snorer we have ever heard and we just could not drown out his noise.

The following morning we took a quick drive around Silverton in the hope of seeing the two remaining town donkeys we had heard about (there used to be seven) and were not disappointed as they lay in wait along the side of the road.  I only wish I’d had a carrot to give them. 

Once again we rolled along the undulating road into Broken Hill where we grabbed a coffee and planned our day. First it was a walk along the main street, taking a closer look at the architecture before driving up to the Broken Earth Café/Restaurant and memorial. Sitting atop an old mine both buildings are unique and offer sensational views over the town and the Barrier Ranges.  With heavy rains having fallen several weeks prior to our visit we were treated to unusually green countryside.

We timed our visit to the Pro Hart Gallery perfectly for a storm rolled through delivering a burst of heavy rain.  By the time we were ready to leave the heavy grey clouds had been replaced with bursts of sunshine.  Our next stop was the Living Desert and Sculptures, set atop a hill with breathtaking 360 degree views it was a gorgeous location for the sculptures.

Back at Silverton we headed out to the Mundi Mundi Lookout to experience sunset at this picturesque location.  It was delightful standing atop the hill and looking out over the vast Mundi Mundi Plains as the sun descended.  There was a large group gathered all keen to watch the sun set over this magnificent open space.  We popped the cork and cracked a beer and watched the sun work its magic.

There was a nice low cover of cloud which made for some great reflections of light and brought out stunning colours, unfortunately a heavy mass of cloud sat smack bang where she retreated which restricted the image somewhat, however it was still an awesome sight.

Our camping neighbours had stayed another night and so after listening to the snoring throughout another night we were glad to be hitting the road, though so were they so it made no difference!  We took one last drive past the Silverton Hotel, unfortunately the donkeys were nowhere in sight, we did however see two young camels out the front of the cameleers, neither of which looked to be tethered.  A mob of wild horses was grazing in the distance as we started along the undulating road back to Broken Hill.  Oh how we love the country.

Highlights of Silverton/Broken Hill:

-          Mundi Mundi Plains

-          Silverton Hotel

-          Donkeys and wild horses

-          Pro Hart Gallery

-          Living Desert and Sculpture Park
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