Continuing with our highlights, these are some of the other main attractions we visited that I think you need to see when in Broken Hill.
Silver City Mint and Art Centre – home of The Big Picture
This is a bit of an Aladdin’s cave in the city, where after paying a small entry fee, you can take a self guided tour through different rooms in the building which is about the size of two warehouses.
As you wander through you can see and purchase silver jewellery crafted here in Broken Hill, artworks, metal sculptures, leather bags, locally made chocolates, fudges and more. But the whole purpose of our visit is to see ‘The Big Picture’.
One room is taken over by this almost 100 metre long continuous canvas painting, which wraps around almost 360 degrees, with a realistic desert landscape in the foreground adding to the effect of standing overlooking a desert with the magnificent vista in front of you.
The painting created by local artist Peter Anderson (Ando) is incredible with mountain ranges, animals and different weather effects all in this massive scene. The experience is both terrific and corny in parts with some terrific realistic looking snakes and lizards, plants and skulls in the foreground landscape and then some pretty bad, garden statue type kangaroos and emus that just detract from the good. They could probably lose the garden statues to keep it more realistic in my opinion.
Pro Hart Gallery
Speaking of art, there’s probably no one more famous when it comes to Broken Hill artists, than Pro Hart. He was born in Broken Hill in 1928 and in his early years, worked shifts in the mines. He would work underground during the day, and then paint when he got home. He was discovered by an Adelaide gallery owner in the early 60s and the recognition of his work and his popularity began to climb.
His paintings ranged from life as he saw it underground in the mines, with expressionless miners going about their days, to colourful, lively landscapes and narrative paintings of life in Broken Hill and the outback. Many of his paintings show what daily life was like in the harsh surrounds. He was also a sculptor and many of his works can be found in public spaces around Broken Hill.
He’s perhaps most famously known for his performance and experimental art where he would drop paint from hot air balloons, create ice sculptures and use a cannon to literally explode paint onto canvas and other backgrounds.
As well as Pro Hart’s distinctive art, he had a love for vintage cars and in particular Rolls Royce and a collection of them can also be seen at the gallery including one that is a canvas of Pro’s artwork. Pro Hart passed away at home in 2006.
The gallery can be found in what was once his garage, with his house still standing next door. One of his sons now lives in the home.
Living Desert Sculptures
Twelve sandstone artworks stand on top of a hill in the desert, highlighting the skyline and drawing visitors out to this region. The sculptures which are 12 kilometres from Broken Hill, were created in 1993 by Australian and international artists.
I was expecting to have to walk a long way to see them all but they are all close together on a roughly circular walking trail and easily accessible to anyone. Each one of the sculptures has a story board by the artist explaining what their vision was when they were creating the piece.
The most recognizable one is Bajo El Sol jaguar (under the jaguar sun) by Antonio Nava Tirado of Mexico City. This sculpture features in just about every tourism brochure about Broken Hill and it’s a stunning piece to see in person. If you are in just the right spot as the sun is setting, you can capture the sun through the circle of the sculpture, but it looks amazing at any time of the day.
The sculptures are accessible during the summer months from 6am until just after sunset and other months from 8.30am until just after sunset. There is a self pay station at the entry to the park where you can pay the fee of $6 per person by credit card.
Enjoy Broken Hill, I know we will definitely be revisiting.