Growing up in Australia in the 90s, my knowledge of Broken Hill came about from the cult film Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
Being only five years old I may not have fully understood the plot line at the time; of two drag queens who make their way across the Australian Outback from Sydney to Alice Springs, but I do remember it being both comical and colourful.
Much like Priscilla, I had only ever passed through Broken Hill briefly en route to Alice Springs to witness Uluru. However, this year I decided that needed to change.
A town named by the early explorer Charles Sturt, for he wrote in his diary that the site looked like a Broken Hill, this year we based ourselves in town for a couple of days.
Made famous by mining, Broken Hill has become the capital of Outback Australia. While I had always thought of the town as a quick stopover, I would end up being pleasantly surprised at the many offerings the town has along with the beautiful landscapes that surround it.
Red Earth Motel proved to be the perfect luxury Outback base.
Red Earth Motel – The Perfect Outback Base for Discovering Broken Hill
Accommodation in Broken Hill
When it comes to selecting accommodation in Broken Hill, your options are pretty limited. But while most places to stay consist of rather basic motels or pub hotels, there is one motel in the Silver City that shines like an oasis in the desert.
While still labelled as a motel, Red Earth Motel offers the same standard of rooms you would expect to find at high end name brand hotel.
Set up as a motel, in that you can drive right to your door, and rather inconspicuous as you pull in, behind the front door are beautifully modern elegant rooms with full kitchens, luxe bathrooms, and more than enough space to spread out for an extended stay.
Offering one, two, and three bedroom apartments, the Red Earth Motel is a perfect fit for couples as well as larger travelling families. Red Earth is conveniently located near many of the town’s main attractions as well steps from the train station.
For ultimate comfort at very reasonable rates, there is really no other comparable accommodation in Broken Hill.
Located right on Argent Street, a stay at Red Earth Motel means you have access to many of the town’s restaurants if you decide not to make use of your kitchen facilities.
The Motel sits just below the famous Line of Lode Miners Memorial and within a short walk of the train station.
We were lucky enough to coincide an evening walk to catch a glimpse of the iconic Indian Pacific train that had stopped in Broken Hill as it is one of its scheduled stops along its route from Sydney to Perth.
We stayed in a one bedroom apartment that had been recently been updated. Though even their so called “older rooms” looked to be newly built and extremely modern.
Our room had plush carpet you would expect to find in an elegant home, which felt great under our feet after a day of exploring in hiking boots (though leave the red earth from your shoes on the other side of the door!)
A beautiful kitchenette offers a microwave, large fridge, kitchenware, and toaster. You will find an oven and stove in the two or three bedroom apartments to make a fully equipped kitchen. Grocery stores are just a few minutes up the street for anything you may wish to cook.
The reverse cycle air conditioning was very much welcomed since it was hovering around the mid thirties during our stay. A refreshing shower in the elegant fully tiled bathroom to wash away the Outback dirt before crashing into our king sized bed.
A computer desk allowed me to easily stay on top of work while a kitchen table meant not having to eat our meals in bed like most hotels. And of course, free WiFi to plan out the next day’s itinerary.
Photos of the Room
Enjoy free Foxtel and WiFi for those rare occasions it rains in Broken Hill or relax around the outdoor pool area.
There are undercover BBQ areas for cooking up a feast and laundry facilities to catch up on some washing which we managed to take advantage of (after a day of hiking in the Outback in 30 degrees, you’ll only get half a days wear out of your clothes!)
Their 24 hour reception is run by an incredibly friendly and welcome team of staff, who are highly knowledgeable about the area and always greet you with a smile. Parking too is both free and easy.
Around Broken Hill
Whether you’re into art, nature, or eclectic attractions, Broken Hill has a number of things to keep you busy.
We struggled to fit everything on offer into our three days and will no doubt have to make a return visit to experience all that we missed. The following is just some of the things to try and make time for when in Broken Hill.
Living Desert and Sculptures
This beautiful reserve is just a short drive from Broken Hill and makes for the perfect spot to catch a sunset.
Set amongst the beautiful Barrier Ranges, there are a dozen sandstone sculptures to admire upon a hill that seem to change colour as the sun moves throughout the day. They really come alive just before sundown.
The sculptures can be accessed by a vehicle or you can park at the plant and animal sanctuary below the hill and walk up. Allow an extra hour to walk through the predator proof sanctuary where you may spot local wildlife.
We saw the beautiful Sturt’s desert pea, a comical blue-tongued shingleback lizard, and colourful mulga parrots. Be sure to bring cash or credit card as there is an entry fee of $6 per person to enter the reserve.
For an even more natural setting with endless hiking opportunities, head to the Sundown Trail. Also just a short drive from the centre of town, the Sundown Trail offers beautiful landscapes filled with camouflaged kangaroos and wedge-tailed eagles.
We came across nearly 100 year old bottles that brought some of Broken Hill’s history alive. An old glass Shelley’s soft drink bottle, whose name we still saw painted on a building on the corner of the Silver City Hwy and Lane Street, as well as an old stone Emil Resch ginger beer bottle.
We were lucky to have the whole trail to ourselves, except of course for the local wildlife, and the landscape reminded us of the desert Southwest of the United States.
Line of Lode Miner’s Memorial
For the best views over Broken Hill and to pay your respects to the more than 800 miners who lost their lives working on the Broken Hill mines, head to the Line of Lode Miner’s Memorial.
In addition to learning a bit of the town’s mining history and its many tragedies, you can also view a range of old mining machines and equipment.
Set in a wild west like setting, Silverton is a must do day trip from Broken Hill. It’s less than a thirty minute drive, but offers a whole different world. See the ruins of old historical buildings and witness a truly unique art scene.
The town may be small, home to only about 50 residents, but it has shot to fame from being a location where numerous movies have been filmed.
Both Broken Hill and Silverton have been filming locations for movies like Wake in Freight, Mission Impossible II, and most notably Mad Max. There is even a Mad Max Museum to check out.
Expect anything in this really one of a kind town. For instance we were pulled over not by police, but by a pair of donkeys who proceeded to simply lick the side of our car!
Other Things Not to Miss
Daydream Mine: Step into the shoes of a miner and take a tour underground to see how this historic mine once operated.
Street Names: Take notice of the street names which depict all kinds of different minerals and things mine relating to mining.
Art Scene: See the second oldest art gallery in Australia, Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery, and check out the gallery of the Aussie Outback artist Pro Hart that truly knows how to capture the spirit of the Outback.
Historic Buildings: Broken Hill has all kinds of historic architecture to keep history lovers busy. Check out Australia’s first mosque, the old sandstone rail station, and the heritage listed synagogue.
You’ll find many of the town’s historical buildings located on or near Argent Street, close to the Red Earth Motel. For more information, or to book your stay, visit redearthmotel.com.au
Signing off from Broken Hill …
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