Last day of September, and our last day in Broken Hill. Fortunately the wind has abated and the sun is shining, so a good day to do a load of washing before more exploring, won’t take long to dry in these conditions.
Today we will explore the museums and galleries, first stop is the Broken Hill Geo Centre housed behind the stone façade of the restored Bond Store. The Geo Centre houses a renowned collection of Broken Hill minerals and gems, as well as many hand-on exhibits and information on how the world’s largest deposit of silver lead and zinc was formed in Broken Hill. Additionally, the “Time Line Room” provides curious visitors with the opportunity to explore the history of our planet. Also on display is the iconic Silver Tree (above), which was once owned by Charles Rasp, the boundary rider who pegged out the first Broken Hill mining lease with his partners.
Next stop is back to the Palace Hotel to have a better view of the famous murals. There weren’t many people around, so we had the place to ourselves for a short time. The entire walls and ceilings have been decorated in elegant fashion in many of the public areas and covered in Renaissance-inspired and Australian landscape murals. The Palace Hotel is also famous for hosting the great Australian game of two-up every Friday from 9pm!
It was then time to return to Gloria Jean’s for a light lunch and a coffee, and a trip back home to bring in the washing. On the way I discovered some of the wonderful old buildings such as the Trades Hall (1905) (left), the line of busts of The Syndicate of Seven (below left and bottom of page), the men who first started the mining business in Broken Hill after the discovery of the minerals, the Barrier Daily Truth newspaper building (1908) (below right)and the Sulphide Street Railway and Historical Museum.
The Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery was our next stop (below and right). It is the oldest regional art gallery in New South Wales, being established in 1904 following the bequest of three major artworks by Mr George McCulloch, one of the founders of BHP. One of Broken Hill’s original heritage buildings, Sully’s Emporium was a former general hardware store, which provided heavy machinery and explosive for the local mining industry from 1885 – 1985.
Sully’s Emporium was magnificently restored from 1999-2004 and became the home of the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery. It has won numerous heritage awards and is an important and strong architectural feature on the Argent Street streetscape. Tonight they were holding the opening of an exhibition, and we were invited, but with our early start we decided it was not a good evening to be out late.
Our last museum was the Silver City Art Centre and Mint, a huge museum located in the heart of town. The centre is the home to the world’s largest acrylic canvas painting, The Big Picture, which measures 100 metres in length (circular), and was completed entirely by one artist over two years. Standing in the huge arena where the painting is housed, you really feel as though you are in the middle of the outback, being able to see the Barrier Rangers, Silverton and the Mundi Mundi Plain, around to Broken Hill and the Pinnacles – unfortunately no photographs are permitted. There is also a huge collection of art from local and interstate artists and the centre is also known for its on-site silver smithing, with a wide range of exquisite jewellery.
Time was marching on, and we needed to visit the supermarket for some nibbles to take on the coach tomorrow morning, we have one stop at Cobar for half an hour, and the coach leaves at 3.45am – so an early start and the taxi is booked. Then it was time to return the hire car to Thrifty, and the manager very kindly agreed to drive us home, rather than call a taxi – very welcome.