Off Train Excursions – Broken Hill and Adelaide

8th May 2014

Pro Hart’s painted Rolls Royce, signature ants on hubcaps!

We had been advised that we travel in “train time”, so turned our clocks back 30 minutes before going to bed last night, and setting our alarms for 5.30am the next morning.  My mobile alarm chimed in at 5am (not able to change the time!) however able to have another 30 minute rest before I clambered down from the top bunk (a challenge!). Having a shower in the confined space of the bathroom was another challenge but I managed well.  Staff put on an early snack from 6am of coffee and Danish pastries, and then we were all ready to rug up (cold morning in Broken Hill) and board our tour bus.

Broken Hill is an isolated mining city in the far west of Outback New South Wales, located near the border of South Australia.  The city overflows with natural, historical and cultural significance and is steeped in Australian history. It has been called The Silver City, the Oasis of the West, and the Capital of the Outback.  It is typical of the classic Outback town with big country pubs on wide street corners.  Today it is still a working town, mining still a major economic driver and together with the environment, agriculture, art and tourism the city is buzzing with life.

Our tour bus driver (who had lived most of his life in Broken Hill) pointed out the interesting buildings, and facts of the city (now with a population of about 18000) on the way to the Pro Hart Gallery.  Even the garden of the gallery was interesting with quirky statues, some old red fire alarm call boxes and a red telephone box, together with two vintage Rolls Royce motor vehicles, one painted by Pro Hart depicting historical features of Broken Hill, and even his signature “ants” on the hubcaps.  The Gallery itself has three levels with Hart’s paintings on all levels, and the lower level contains more of his art work and a model of his studio.  

Pro Hart’s paintings represent the cheeky and colourful charm of Broken Hill and a wide selection of his signature paintings are displayed in the gallery.  We learned how Kevin ‘Pro’ Hart created his masterpieces by drawing inspiration from experimenting with new forms of expression, sculpting with metal and stone, and tinkering away in his back shed to create all kinds of contraptions. Some more city sights on the way back to the train, interesting to note the different types of architecture and building materials used in the structures.







Model of Pro Hart’s studio (left) and “Bishop Blessing the opening of the Church” (right)

Behind the station, and the other excursion available to passengers, and visible to us when we returned to the train, was the “Broken Earth”  Miners’ Memorial behind the station.  It is a unique and striking structure that sits at a height of 54 metres overlooking Broken Hill and located on the highest point of the Line of Lode remnant mullock dumps that transverse the city.  The short axis of the building faces east-west addressing the rising and setting of the sun in memoriam to over 800 miners who lost their lives working in the Broken Hill mines.  The structure is an important figure to the city for both tourism and education about Broken Hill’s rich mining history.  Walking past the walls lined with the names of miners, you reach the ledge of this structure, which gives full views of the rising sun, Broken Hill and the Outback beyond.


Broken Earth, the Miners’ Memorial to the 800 miners who have lost their lives in Broken Hill mines

Returning to the train, our eating companions for a late breakfast was a couple from Canberra, Stephanie was an artist, Matt a historian, very interesting chat with a delightful couple.  While having breakfast we had wide views from both sides of the Queen Adelaide dining car, and were lucky to spy some emus, sheep, cattle and wild horses as we sped through the flat countryside of saltbush and few trees.

Later we passed through the town of Peterborough, once a large interchange of trains with three different widths of gauges.  From then on, as we proceeded south to Adelaide, the countryside became more ordered with clumps of gums, planted wind breaks, green paddocks, sheep and cows, wheat silos and towns clustered around the stations.  We ate lunch with a lovely couple from Stroud, John (who at 81 was still running a chicken farm with his son) and his wife Doreen. They began to feel at home as we passed fields of newly planted wheat, then dozens of huge vegetable hothouses as we neared Adelaide.  Soon we were passing Crystal Brook, the start of the southern ranges, then by 3pm were pulling in to Adelaide station, the main hub of Great Southern Rail where the train will refuel, take on water and change staff, and we will take our bus tour around the sights of this beautiful city.








The Haigh family have run their chocolate factory for almost 100 years, we visited their retail outlet – very sweet!

Our  bus driver had been driving tour buses in Adelaide for 26 years so he was very knowledgeable about all aspects of this city.  Adelaide was founded by Colonel Light in 1836, planned with wide boulevards in a one square mile city centre surrounded by an abundance of open spaces.  Fast forward 150 years and the city is now bustling with life and those wide open spaces are now State Heritage Listed parklands.  Much of the 177-year old heritage has been well preserved with Victorian public institutions and elegant historic homes standing proud alongside contemporary retail, business and entertainment developments.  With the Adelaide hills on one side, beaches on the other and a lot to do in between Adelaide is now a vibrant and friendly city with a relaxed way of life.


The long pier at Glenelg Beach, Adelaide

After a tour of the city, including a visit to Haigh’s chocolate factory and retail outlet, we headed for the very pretty beachside suburb of Glenelg where we had about an hour to explore the beach with its long pier, and shopping mall. By this time it was getting darker and cooler and we were pleased to return to the warmth of the bus to travel back to the station and the train, and to enjoy our evening meal in the Queen Adelaide dining car.

Tomorrow we travel on to Cook and the gold mining city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, hope you will join us.



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