Arriving in Broken Hill is an awe inspiring experience. As you drive in you are immediately struck by the vision of what on first glance appears to be a mountain towering over the middle of town. On second glance you realise that the behemoth is manmade.
It is even more surprising when you realise that the man-made slag heap is located where the series of hills called the Line of Lode used to be. Photos of the original Line of Lode were on view at the Railway Museum and provided some perspective on how much rock has been processed since the original Broken Hill silver mine was established in 1885.
As promised by a previous traveller recommendation while we were in White Cliffs, we enjoyed the view from the café on top of the slag heap. It was sobering to reflect on the monuments to dead miners. Over 900 miners died whilst working on the Line of Lode. Broken Hill is notable for the formation of strong unions in 1920 which after leading an 18 month strike managed to improve the working conditions for miners across Australia.
The central township area of Broken Hill is a fascinating place to explore with many historic buildings and museums.
A highlight of any visit to Broken Hill is the guided tour through the Royal Flying Doctor Service base just south of the township. The tour provides an appreciation for the work being done to provide both routine and emergency medical and dental services to remote stations and communities. A real highlight was their video where my children got to see what happens if you do not look after your teeth!!
The Royal Flying Doctor Service museum is a fascinating insight into how the medical service developed in conjunction with the School of the Air. Pedal powered radio sets were the foundation equipment to establish the service, many of which are still in use and being given to third world countries to enable radio communications.
When you drive the long distances between outback towns you start to appreciate how remote the outback Australian communities are. Combined with the remoteness is understanding how far away medical help is if you need it, which you take for granted if you live in a city environment.
The next stop on our trip was to explore the area around the town of Silverton, only 25km North West of Broken Hill.