Any local will tell you that their outback city is much more than an isolated hub of mining activity. The compelling charm of Broken Hill’s stunningly rugged landscape and rich social fabric has inspired a multitude of creatives – past and present, famous and not-so-famous.
Arts and culture run deep in the city’s veins – there are twice as many art galleries as pubs, and it doesn’t take long to discover just how richly profound the influence of the city has been on a diversity of artists, musicians, writers, filmmakers and more over decades, and how significantly they have contributed to the life of the city.
So while you’re here, allow enough time to be surprised, mesmerised and challenged by Broken Hill’s vibrant and diverse artistic and cultural character.
Wander along some of the city’s central streets and you’ll see a great cross-section of Victorian and Federation architecture that reflects the divergent fortunes of the city’s people back then – from opulence to struggle street, and anything in between.
Music and Theatre
Three outstanding venues in town that stage a wide variety of music, theatre and other entertainment are the Civic Centre at 60 Chloride Street, the Musicians Club at 276 Crystal Street and Theatre 44 at 189 Wills Street. Check venue websites or enquire at the Visitor Information Centre to see what’s on when you’re in town.
Mutawintji Rock Art
Forty-thousand years before the likes of Pro Hart, Jack Absalom, Hugh Schulz, John Pickup and Eric Minchin (the brushmen of the bush) were weaving their modern-day magic, Aboriginals were leaving their artistic mark on this region. Mutawintji, 160 kilometres north-east of Broken Hill, is the site of some remarkable ancient rock art, which can be viewed on a guided tour. Search online or enquire at the Visitor Information Centre about various tours available.
The Big Picture
Located at the Silver City Art Centre and Mint, this is one of the city’s most visited attractions. It’s the world’s largest acrylic painting on canvas by a single artist – Peter Anderson, or Ando. It’s a jaw-dropping 12 metres high and nearly 100 metres long, depicting the harsh desert scenery around Broken Hill, and has to be seen to be believed.
Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery
Located in the historic Sully’s Emporium building, it’s the oldest regional gallery in NSW and a must-see. Established in 1904, the Gallery hosts locally curated and touring exhibitions every year featuring a range of artists, including established and emerging Aboriginal artists from the far west region of the state. There’s also a fabulous collection of permanently displayed works.
Pro Hart Gallery
No visit to Broken Hill is complete without seeing the self-designed gallery of the city’s highest profile artist, the late Pro Hart. With many of his own distinctive works on display – including six Rolls Royce cars he used as canvases – together with works from the likes of Arthur Boyd, John Constable, Claude Monet, Albert Tucker and Sir William Dobell, a visit is an unforgettably unique Broken Hill experience.
Broken Heel Festival
Now in its fifth year, its underlying theme is Priscilla Queen of the Desert in a flamboyant weekend full of drag shows, divas and discos. There are free and ticketed events, with the street parade a major highlight. September 13, 14 and 15, 2019.