A long blare of a not-too-distant horn echoed throughout Broken Hill around 6:30pm, while we were preparing dinner. Shortly thereafter, a short blare of the horn followed.
This post was originally published in 2008 . It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.
Being of a volume and pitch similar to what we heard in Hawaii when the tsunami warning system was tested each month, we wondered what these horns meant. We were pretty sure that a tsunami wasn’t an immediate risk in Broken Hill.
Broken Hill, otherwise known as the “accessible outback”, is a destination, but not. Some of the key draws of Broken Hill aren’t the city itself; rather the surrounding areas. Between the beautiful outback surrounding Broken Hill, sculptures in the Living Desert, the national park to the north full of aboriginal sites, the quirky ghost town of Silverton (home to many movie sets including Mad Max), the mining town of White Cliffs where people live underground to escape the summer heat, and the expansive cattle stations, Broken Hill’s appeal largely lies in the area 100kms around the city.
The town of Broken Hill itself is a heavy mining community with over 100 years of history. With lodes of iron, zinc, silver, and other metals, the landscape of Broken Hill somewhat resembles an open pore on the face of the Australian outback landscape that has been squeezed for its underground riches. This is not a particularly savoury analogy I know, but then again mining – as necessary as it is – isn’t a particularly savoury industry.
That is not to say that the city of Broken Hill should be avoided, by any means. There are numerous wonderful art galleries to enjoy – almost too many proportionate to the town’s size, but you won’t hear me complaining.
One such art gallery, and one not to be missed, is the Silver City Mint and Art Centre, where you can not only purchase beautiful hand-crafted jewellery and art made by a variety of local talent, but you can also view the Big Picture. Which is just as it sounds – a beautiful big picture; in fact it is the world largest canvas painting at 100metres in length.
Broken Hill is also home to some of the most friendly people, and conversations with passing strangers sometimes last 10 minutes, or even through tea. In our time at Broken Hill we have been invited into people’s homes and hearts, cattle stations, and places of business with warm welcomes and generosity that appears to be characteristic of the Australian Outback and even of Australia itself.
But you still don’t know what the mining horns mean yet! If you want to read the rest of this article and find out, please click here to see the article in full at our World Nomads Ambassador Trip Journal!