• Lisa

Broken Hill with kids - heading way out West

Updated: Oct 1, 2021

Broken Hill always seemed so far away to me. It is about as far west as you can go in NSW, right in the middle of the desert, and I honestly didn’t know much about it other than its mining history.


That is, until I started planning our trip around Australia and began learning about Broken Hill and planted it firmly on our Aussie road trip bucket list.

It is a long way from Sydney (over 1,100km), but honestly, the drive was so amazing and different every day that it didn’t feel like a long drive at all.


We drove from Sydney via Mungo National Park, stopping at Wagga Wagga, Hay, Balranald and Menindee along the way. We took a week and a half to get there. You could do it much faster if you wanted, but we were in no rush.


You can also get to Broken Hill via Dubbo and the Barrier Highway (see my blog here), and stop off to see the amazing Taronga Western Plains Zoo, the Cobar and White Cliffs mines and the beautiful Darling River on the way.


We had originally thought we would spend 3 nights in Broken Hill, but we loved it so much we stayed a week and could have easily stayed another week.


It is such a vibrant town, full of amazing art, delicious food and such friendly people. Everywhere was child friendly and in winter the weather was absolutely perfect (I’m talking about days over 20 degrees and not a cloud in the sky!).


If you haven’t got Broken Hill on your road trip list, I strongly suggest you put it on there - especially if you have kids! You’ll be covered in red dust (especially if you are camping) but will go to sleep exhausted and happy after days of exploring (and maybe a couple of beers), under a sky filled with stars like you have never seen before!


THINGS TO DO IN BROKEN HILL WITH KIDS


The Royal Flying Doctors Service


We all really enjoyed our guided tour of the RFDS museum and learnt so much about the history of this amazing organisation. Sadly, because of COVID, we weren’t able to look at the planes in the hangar, but that can just be on our list for next time.

Kids can also sign up to join the RFDS kids’ club. We did this earlier in the year and our oldest received a birthday card from them before we left home.


It is definitely worth a visit and the money they raise from admission and the gift shop goes to continue their awesome work, providing vital emergency medical and

primary health care services to rural and remote Australia.


Sulphide Street Railway and Historical Museum

Entering through the old Broken Hill train station, you can check out some of the most beautiful old trains at the Railway Museum. We spent a couple of hours exploring and climbing on the trains, pretending to drive them or being fancy passengers in first class.


For my 3 and 6 year olds, this was a perfect museum - interactive in the best way possible, sparking their curiosity and resulting in lots of questions that luckily the friendly guy who was working there was able to answer.



Bells Milk Bar

It might be strange to have Bell’s listed here, rather than under “where we ate”, but I feel like it’s not just an eatery, but a whole experience, which was one of my favourites in all of our time in Broken Hill.


A mate recommended that we call in here and I thought “yeah, yeah, we like milkshakes, no biggie” and trotted along, only to have our minds blown at finding it to be the cutest, coolest milk bar ever!

It has been here since 1892 and is set up like a 1950’s milk bar. They have over 50 different drinks to choose from, all made with Bell’s homemade syrups and cordials which are made on the premises. We had the waffles to eat and I can report that they were amazing.


Out the back is a little museum about the history of milk bars in Australia, which I have to admit that I enjoyed a lot more than the boys.


Patton Park

Across the road from Bell’s is Patton Park - a great place to burn off all the sugar you’ve just consumed at the milk bar.


It has amazing play equipment (space themed, which gets bonus points from us!), clean toilets and picnic tables and BBQs in case you are still hungry.







Line of Lode Lookout and Miners' Memorial

In the middle of Broken Hill is a huge mountain of mullock (rubbish from a mine), which you can see from pretty much anywhere in town.


Perched on top is the Line of Lode lookout and the Miners' Memorial, which pays tribute to the over 800 people who have died working in the mines here since the late 1800s. The youngest we saw was only 12 years old.


The view from the Lookout is amazing and there is the Broken Earth Cafe and Wine Bar at the top, which would be awesome at sunset, although we didn’t get the chance to experience that. Next time!

Also while you are exploring the pile of rubbish, you can check out the Big Park Bench! If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll know we are obsessed with Australia’s big things.


Unfortunately we weren’t able to sit on the bench and to be fair, it’s not actually that big.


Pro Hart Gallery


Broken Hill is home to over 20 art galleries - there are more galleries than there are pubs!


We decided to visit Pro Hart’s Gallery, as we remembered him from that carpet ad when we were kids - “Oh Mister Hart, what a mess!” - and thought the boys might love his style.

I didn’t really know much about old Pro (whose real name was actually Kevin) before we went in, but now we all absolutely love his unique techniques and the way that he captured the beautiful Aussie outback of his hometown, Broken Hill.


The first thing you see as you come in through the gate is his collection of fancy cars, including ones that he has painted. Inside are the paintings as well as the cannon he used to splatter paint in some of his works.


I found the paintings of the mines so interesting - apparently back in the day if you were male and lived in Broken Hill, you needed to work at least one shift a week down the mines, otherwise you needed to move away.


Across the road is an outdoor sculpture park, which we also enjoyed, but I’d recommend checking out the gallery first.


The Living Desert State Park and Sculptures in the Desert

Speaking of art, you can’t go to Broken Hill without checking out the Sculptures in the Desert - 12 sandstone sculptures in the Living Desert State Park. The sculptures were created in 1993 by artists from around the world (all male…) and although you can’t climb on them, there are plenty of rocks around for kids to climb while you check the sculptures out.


There is also a flora and fauna sanctuary in the park, where I was super excited to see a beautiful Sturt desert pea... but unfortunately couldn’t find one. We were there in the middle of Winter and it was still scorching hot out there, so take hats, sunscreen and plenty of water if you are doing one of the walks.


The Starview Primitive Campsite in the park sounded amazing and we really wanted to spend a night out there under the stars. Unfortunately because of COVID this was closed.


SILVERTON

Once a booming silver mining town and now almost a ghost town, Silverton is 26km from Broken Hill in the middle of the desert. It is home to about 50 people, but at its peak in the 1890s, 3000 people lived there. It is hard to imagine this as you walk around the town, as many of the buildings were moved to Broken Hill on trains, donkeys, camels and bullocks.


We loved Silverton so much that we came back twice!



Mad Max 2 Museum

Because of this ghost town vibe, Silverton has been the setting for more than 150 movies and ads, including Mad Max 2.


Although my boys haven’t seen the movie (and won’t be allowed to watch it for many years yet), they loved the museum and all its dystopian paraphernalia. In fact the parts of the museum that I thought they would find the most terrifying, they actually loved - although that may say more about my boys than the museum!


It is definitely worth a visit if you are out this way, even if you aren’t a fan of Mel Gibson (is anyone anymore?) just to check out the building, the props, replicas and amazing stunts from the movie.


John Dynon Gallery

As you drive up to the Mad Max 2 Museum, you go past a corrugated iron shed covered in brightly coloured paint, old bikes, and old painted cars - make sure you pop in.


There we met the lovely artist John who was happy to let us take photos and answered all our questions. His art is bright and colourful and the boys particularly loved his cute emu paintings.



The Silverton Hotel

This pub looks straight out of a movie set (and it has actually featured in many movies, like Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Mission Impossible 11 and Mad Max 2)


The original hotel was opened in 1884, but it burnt down in a fire in 1918 (you can visit the ruins at the back of the present day

pub).


It is a great place to stop for a meal and a cold beer and hopefully a visit from the local donkeys.





Mundi Mundi Lookout

30km from Broken Hill, just past Silverton, is Mundi Mundi Lookout and it is an amazing place to watch the sun set over the Mundi Mundi plains. It honestly feels like you are standing at the edge of the world and the view of the flat Australian outback is just incredible. They say that from here you can see the curvature of the earth across the wide horizon!


We were there on a Friday evening and there were quite a few people there enjoying the view with a cheeky after work drink. I love a sunset any time, but it was particularly magical to watch it sink behind the horizon and have the whole desert sky light up in front of us.


WHERE WE STAYED

We stayed at the Broken Hill Outback Resort while we explored Broken Hill, which is owned by Out of the Ordinary Outback. It's a beautiful caravan and cabin park, about 10 minutes from town. Close enough to see the sights, but far enough away to be in the middle of the outback, with the most amazing night sky.


We loved camping on our grassy site, and especially enjoyed the beautiful new amenities (which are such a luxury after bush camping) and the amazing food at the restaurant.


From Broken Hill we will be driving along the Barrier Highway to Cobar. We'll be travelling over 600km through the amazing Aussie outback, staying at some of the other Out of the Ordinary Outback properties along the way. If you are interested in exploring this part of NSW, they offer a 10% discount off stays, if you book at two or more properties in one visit.


WHERE WE ATE


Broken Hill Outback Resort, Barrier Highway


The caravan park is built around the historic Mt Gipps Hotel, which was built back in 1890, and we couldn’t stay here and not try the restaurant at least once.


The food was really good pub grub as well as pizzas, and they had a kids’ menu and a roaring fire inside and a beautiful campfire outside. They usually have entertainment, although sadly not when we were there (thanks, COVID) and we found it to be super kid-friendly.


They also do fantastic take away coffees from 9am.


The Palace Hotel, 227 Argent Street

You can’t come to Broken Hill and not go to the famous Palace Hotel. The inside is painted with the most amazing murals by Gordon Waye - even if you don’t eat here, come for a drink and to check them out!


We ate with the kids in the restaurant one night, and had a date night in the Pavillion on another (both have the same menu). They have a pretty standard pub kids’ menu - nuggets, fish & chips, burgers, spag bol etc, but the food was pretty good and came in very generous serves.





Silly Goat, 425 Argent Street

Silly Goat serves the best coffee that we found in Broken Hill.


It is a super hip cafe that does amazing take away sandwiches and cakes (including the best muffin I’ve ever eaten - blueberry and white chocolate. Blueberries are a superfood after all!), and also has a beautifully decorated dining area. We went for Sunday brunch and it was SO GOOD!


They have a kids menu (my boys had the amazing fluffy pancakes) and the staff were so friendly to us.





Spargo’s Kitchen, 389 Argent Street


We had take-away pizza from Spargo’s one night when we were too tired to cook or go out to a restaurant. It was the first pizza we had eaten in ages and was really delicious.


Sufi Bakery, corner of Bromide and Argent Streets


Do yourself a favour and go here for the most amazing bread and pastries. The bread was next level delicious and I don’t even have words to express how good my almond croissant was. Everything is sourdough based and made slowly by hand. It all looks as good as it tastes and my only regret is that we didn’t discover it sooner.


Stones on Argent, 198 Argent Street


This is a pretty standard country cafe, but the staff were so friendly and the food portions were massive. It was the first place I tried cheese-slaw, a local delicacy of coleslaw and cheese (together at last!) and I can report that it was surprisingly delicious. Their milkshakes are also top notch and worth a visit just to have one.


Hocko’s Chicken Shop, 453 Argent Street


The sign outside said they serve the town’s best burgers, so of course we had to give them a try. As an experienced burg eater, I can say that they are ok…


We had them for lunch on the day we arrived and we were so hungry that we gobbled them up quick smart. They have a kids’ menu and the boys polished off their burgs, which is always a good sign.

______


So that's it from me! If you are interested in visiting Broken Hill, I can highly recommend driving along the Barrier Highway and checking out a few other beautiful Aussie towns on the way. Please check out my Barrier Highway blog, and let me know if I have missed out anything about this amazing part of NSW.


*Although Out of the Ordinary Outback invited us to stay at the Broken Hill Outback Resort, I have not been paid for this blog post and I don’t receive any commission if you book to stay with them.*


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