Friday, 18 January 2013

Road trip - Broken Hill

Last night we arrived home after a couple week break on a road trip that covered a total of 6,015 km’s. It was a complete break as there was no facebook, internet TV or even radio news. The road trip turned out as real history tour especially going to places significant in the 1880’s; maybe not all of national significance but of importance to my own family history.

After leaving Qld from the in-laws place near St George we crossed the border at Hebel and a 13 ½ hour travelling time, arrived at Broken Hill.
Broken Hill was a very pleasant surprise, we had booked a 2 night stay which is a full day of sightseeing but we found that Broken Hill offered enough to keep you interested for a 4 night stop over. There is nearby Silverton, art galleries included that of Pro Harts that we visited, museums, mine tours, lookouts at sunset and soak in some rather unique architecture.

Photo - Pro Hart's famous painted Rolls Royce
From memory the Broken Hill mining of silver, lead & zinc got going in the late 1880’s when the gold rush era was a fading memory. It was very important to the Australian economy in the depression in the 1890’s. BHP became one of Australia’s largest companies and in doing so it contributing to Australia developing a manufacturing industry throughout the first part of the 1900’s.

In context of the current debate of resource activity impacting upon agricultural production it is very safe to say that Broken Hill mining activity never took out any prime agricultural land.

Photo - Old buildings at Silverton
Lastly I can highly recommend the accommodation we booked at Jadan Cottages; well renovated old building, very thoughtfull provisions for the travelling family and at a very reasonable cost. 


  1. Charles Rasp (7 October 1846 – 22 May 1907) is known as the first person to identify the economic potential of the ore deposits at Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia.
    He was born at Stuttgart, Duchy of Württemberg, where he was educated and he was trained in chemistry. He emigrated to Australia to improve his health in 1869 and worked at a variety of jobs on rural stations, eventually ending up at the Mount Gipps station managed by George McCulloch, where he was employed as a boundary rider (Coulls, 1976 and Camilleri, 2006).
    Inspired by the silver rush to nearby Silverton, he began to prospect in the area of Broken Hill.
    One day while mustering sheep in the Broken Hill paddock towards the end of September 1883, he was struck by the mineral appearance and formation of the 'Broken Hill'. He joined forces with local contractors David James and James Poole, and they took out a mining lease on part of Broken Hill and sank a small shaft. Though discouraged by early assay results, they persisted and soon after were joined by four others (all working on Mount Gipps) forming the Syndicate of Seven. George McCulloch and Charles Rasp pegged out further leases which took in the whole of Broken Hill, the original name of which was said to be Wilyu-Wilyu-yong (Curtis, 1908).
    They were prospecting for tin, but early assay results found only low grade lead ore and traces of silver (Curtis, 1908). It was not until late 1884 or early 1885 that rich quantities of silver were found and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company (BHP) was floated to mine the leases. Rasp received an allocation of shares and, within five years, he was rich (Coulls, 1976).
    Rasp moved to Adelaide, married and dabbled in mining interests until his death in 1907.
    - From Wikipedia

  2. There is a connection between Charles Rasp and Prof Archibald Watson, brother of the three Watson bros who settled Gregory Downs in 1877. See pages 92 to 94 of the following document:-

    1. The rest of this publication can be found here:-

      from a biography of John Robinson, Sculptor (1935-2007) and grandson of W.S. Robinson, Industrialist of South Aust and England.

  3. Greg, that's a very ineresting account.
    Earlier in the document you linked to above the author mentions on page 87 of staying at the property of sir Keith Angus.
    The Angus name is one important to my family (although indirectly) as Sir keith's great granfather George Fife Angus was responisble in sponsering immigrants from Prussia to take up & work land in SA. it is in his hmour that the town of Anguston was named. I took a photo of one of these sponsership agreements in a little church museum in the town of Lobethal.
    I will write more about this in my next blog posting.

  4. Looks like all of Australia (and Federation) started in Adelaide and South Australia.

  5. I lived in Broken Hill and attended high school there for 4 years. I remember how different it was leaving a small high school in the mid-north of SA, and moving into a completely different NSW school system.

    I lived close to the mines in South Broken Hill, riding my bike past the mines to get to school. If there was heavy "mine dust", it was not safe to ride my bike, then I got the bus to school, on those days.

    I made some great friends there - the down fall was the clubs, my dad got hooked on the pokies...and booze!
    Pretty soon, there was no money, chaos at home, hated school.

    I remember I used to cheer myself up visiting the Palas theartre, hanging out at the Art gallery watching Pro Hart chuck paint around until it stuck on the canvas.

    The Barrier Miner, was the local paper...I even got my picture in the paper.
    Memories, huh?

  6. Ny brother married a lass (well, she was then) from a property just out from Broken Hill. They were married in the BH suburb of Railwaytown.

    If you don't know that back-ground you would think the headline in the Barrier Miner:

    Station Girl Marries at Railwaytown.

  7. Photos have now been added to this discussion. I did have a fourth photo that I was considering to publish of the Mad Max museum. Silverton was used as a location for a couple of the Mad Max films & there are left behind props on display.

  8. Well hello history buffs, what a good read! Back in the early 70s, I was the young (and some of the local landed gentry would have added 'precocious, and not well connected!) Shell Chemicals branch manager in Adelaide, and Broken Hill was in our territory. Much to the annoyance of my much more important counterpart in Sydney! I took on the 'local rep' role myself and used to love visiting there, in part no doubt due to my having graduated as a geologist, and experienced 'the underground experience' at Mt Isa. (Which was a more interesting mine, but that's another story).

    Along the way, I became aware of The Battle of Broken Hill and repercussions for the German Community, something which the vast majority of Aussies would be totally oblivious to. In a nutshell,on the 1st of January 1915, two men shot dead four people and wounded seven more, before being killed by the Police and Army.

    While the attack was apparently politically inspired, as the attackers confessed in notes they left behind, it appears they were not involved in any organised group or militia. Turkey was one of the Central Powers with whom Australia and its Allies were at war. It was speculated that the two men were Turkish. Later they were identified as Muslims from what is now modern day Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Have I got your ear? Well if interested, post the following link into your web browser and read on, how it began with an attack on a crowded picnic train headed to Silverton, and ultimately had unfortunate implications for many innocent German

    Cheers, and look forward to hearing how you sorted out the Coorong Dale, in due course ;-) al

    1. i should have said, "Copy and then Paste the following link into your web browser: "
      Cheers al

  9. In our brief stay at Broken Hill we did come across a couple of references to the battle of Broken Hill. The tourist information provided no great detail and by memory one spiel stated that the pair decided to declare a jihad; there was no reference to the consequences that were incurred upon a wider section of the Broken Hill community. Mob mentality is bad enough at peacetime but in a time of war there is little room for reflective consideration. Mining then and still in our current age attracts a gathering of people who originated from all over the globe.


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