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Australian Desert Art - 1 - "Stone Souls and a Big Bench" - Broken Hill, NSW (with a dash of poetry)

Updated on December 25, 2017

Living Desert - Broken Hill NSW, Australia

Map of Australia and NSW showing Broken Hill

Broken Hill NSW, Australia

Broken Hill is one of Australia's oldest inland cities. It is surrounded by desert scrub and red earth. Annual rainfall is about 23cm.

Travel west from Canberra, Australia's capital, along the Hume Highway then Sturt Highway; then head north on the Silver City Highway. From Sydney, the capital of NSW, drive west over the Blue Mountains, through Lithgow and Bathurst and then straight on to Broken Hill.

Broken Hill has a significant population centre (about 25,000 in the township) because of the huge silver-lead-zinc deposits discovered there, late in the 1800s. The centre of town is dominated by a massive slag heap; what was once the "Broken Hill" has been mined away over time. On top of the slag heap is Broken Earth café, the Mining Memorial and the Visitors Centre.

Travellers can "taste" the outback at Broken Hill, without being too intimidated and overwhelmed by its vast, empty spaces. Silverton Travel Farm offers guided treks by camel. (Read about a UK visitor's travels to Broken Hill Telegraph UK)

Amazingly, this distant star of humanity hosts 20 galleries.

And in 1993, a group of sculptors pooled their skills to create art in the desert.

The artists involved in the 1993 Sculpture Symposium were: 2 from Mexico (one an Aztec Indian); 2 from Syria; 3 from Georgia (in the Caucasus); and 5 Australians. The Australians included 2 Bathurst Islanders and an Aboriginal Broken Hill artist, Badger Bates.

Silverton - near Broken Hill
Silverton - near Broken Hill

Stone souls

Watching the seamless sands

By burning day

And the stars

By icy night

New sphinxes

Of new dreamings

P.S. If you prefer more quirky, practical art, there is the Big Bench

3 teachers in Broken Hill decided to build the Big Bench in the desert! If not art, it is certainly a talking point! Here is Building the Big Bench Part 1 and Building the Big Bench Part 8.


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    • AuraGem profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Following Lissie's comment, travelling by car to Broken Hill:

      - from Melbourne = 838km - 9 hours

      - from Canberra = 1,100km - 12 hours

      - from Sydney = 1,162.75km - 13 hours

      (These are not allowing for pit stops, so add a little more for the necessities of life!)

    • AuraGem profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Tottie - Yes the gallery certainly operates still! Since the death of Pro Hart it has become an icon. And yes Lissie - I offered a particularly scenic route- especially over the Blue Mountains. Great contrast of landscapes as you drive. And the art scene is extremely vibrant!

    • Lissie profile image

      Elisabeth Sowerbutts 

      12 years ago from New Zealand

      Its a quicker trip from Melbourne - head north - about 12 hours when my boyfriend was in Melbourne and I lived in Broken Hill in the early 80's Recently returned after 25 years - and the place has hardly changed - urban renewal hasn't made it too Broken Hill- far fewer pubs too then when I lived there. The sculptures are a nice addition but here has always been a vibrant art scene there

    • Tottie profile image


      12 years ago from Australia , or China, or South Korea.

      I've been to Broken Hill several times - I often travelled by car from Brisbane to Adelaide via BH to visit my folks. I tend to fly more now. It is an amazing place. I visited Pro Hart's Gallery there too - what an amazing place.

      Is the gallery still operating?

    • AuraGem profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Anhinaya, I love art too. In particular, I seek out unusual art. This one fascinates me because it blends with the natural landscape.

      Thank you so much for your comment.

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      As an art lover I loved this hub.You have introduced me to a wonderful piece of art.Thanks.

    • AuraGem profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Thanks for your response funride.

    • funride profile image

      Ricardo Nunes 

      12 years ago from Portugal

      Unfortunatly I still haven´t been able to travel to Australia, yet ;-)!

      But it´s one of the countries I´ll love to go.

      Thank you for showing us such beautiful sceneries.

    • AuraGem profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      LOL! Well, when I see US abbreviations of states, I always have to check what they mean! The worst ones are the ones that start with"M"! Yep! A geographical challenge.

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      I think it really added. I like diverse content. the pics are wonderful and the map is helpful to those of us who are geographically challenged about other countries (americans :p )

    • AuraGem profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Wow! That was fast! Thanks! I thought I would mix in comment and poetry! Just to test if it all worked!

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      marvelous! I love the poem inclusion, too.


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