I Fell In Love With Broken Hill


It has been one of the scouting trips that I’ve put off for a couple of years at least, and one that I needed for some real outback images. The 9+ hour drive from Melbourne always concerned me at as I thought what if I couldn’t get a ‘magic’ shot to do justice to how special the Broken Hill region is. I knew that the project needed these shots so it was full steam ahead even though after checking the weather I knew it wasn’t going to be favourable for a classic landscape image.

Broken Hill was built surrounding the mine.

After I depart Melbourne in the mid afternoon and I knew that I was in for a real aventure just on the drive. The late departure meant that it would be the middle of the night as I hit the last leg between Mildura to Broken Hill, a 300km stretch of road that is thick with kangaroos. That did little to curb my excitement about finally exploring Broken Hill, especially when the sun faded just before I hit Swan Hill the sky lit up with the most beautiful blue and orange colours which was a taste of what was to come on this trip.

Gorgeous colours between Kerang and Swan Hill.

After finally arriving in Mildura after 7 hours, it was a quick Maccas coffee hit before the treacherous 300km drive on the notorious Silver City Highway. The next 3+ hours of driving were pure concentration, constantly watching and avoiding kangaroos – it would be no exaggeration that there were well over 100 roos that were in my vision. After in excess of 10 hours on the road I was absolutely knackered, so it was time for a few hours nap time in the car before getting into the job at hand.

Not the first thing I expected to see on the Barrier Ranges

As morning came I was so excited to get stuck into and with only 24 hours to scout and acquire some footage and images I had to be very efficient. First on the agenda was a short 20 odd minute drive to the legendary Silverton and the Barrier Ranges for some morning shots – I knew I was going to miss a classic sunrise shot, but when the sky lit up just before sunrise I was gobsmacked by the beauty of the barren landscape. I pulled over for a couple of shots, and to my surprise the first thing I saw atop the Barrier Ranges were wind turbines jsut outside the Silverton township.

One of the few streets in Silverton.

As I entered Silverton it was everything that I expected it to be, it is a popular tourist destination and with the amazing surrounding outback you can see why the area has featured in over 100 films – including Mad Max 2 and Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. I briefly stopped in the town before heading out to explore what was beyond the Barrier Ranges, and as I got out of Silverton I followed the signs to Mundi Mundi not knowing what to expect but I thought it must be something worth seeing. When I arrived to the lookout I was awe struck.

The road near Mundi Mundi lookout dropping off the range

I’ve been outback before down the centre of Queensland and NSW, but this was something completely different and very special. The Mundi Mundi Lookout was near the edge of the Barrier Ranges and was elevated above the endsless plain of rust red landscape. Straight away I knew I would be back for a sunset shot, and after taking in the sheer beauty of the view I was back in the car and heading down off the range to get that drone footage for the project. After getting some solid footage and images, I was back into town to get some food and have a rest before looking around the town.

Aerial shot near the Umberumberka Creek and Reservoir.

The town itself of Broken Hill has a population of around 18,000 and only exists thanks to the discovery of the rocky outcrop that turned out to be an enormous lode in the late 1800’s that ultimately contained millions of tons of lead, zinc and silver that stretches well over a kilometre into the earth. I’ll leave a link below to a fascinating Google Arts and Culture piece about the mine. Unsurprisingly the Broken Hill regions gets very hot and it was around 35 degrees as I drove around the town before it was time to check in at the motel and get some well needed rest in a bed before heading out for sunset.

Mundi Mundi lookout very popular at sunset!

After the rest it was back on the job as I grabbed all the gear and headed back out to Silverton to get that banger sunset image. After all the scouting I was very confident of getting a great image from the Mundi Mundi lookout , until I went to pull into the carpark and it was full of cars waiting for sunset! So that ruined my planned sunset image, so it was back into Silverton for Plan B and shoot some of the towns buildings while the sun set.

Very popular church for photos in Silverton.

As the light disappeared for the evening there was a little feeling of disappointment that I failed to capture a truly unique image of this amazing part of the country. So it was time to head back for some dinner and an early night before another attempt at sunrise before I began the arduous drive back to Melbourne.

The clarity of the sky in the outback is amazing.

The final morning of the scouting mission I woke up a couple of hours before sunrise, and had no real idea of where I was going to shoot. So with plenty of hours left before sunrise I went back out to Mundi Mundi Lookout and even though my gear isn’t really suitable for astrophotography, I wanted to at least get a shot that would give people an idea of how clear the skies are in Australia. There was no moon when I got out of the car and when I set up the camera and turned off the lights it was almost pitch black and so very silent and still that I freaked for a few seconds!! Once my eyes adjusted to the light the entire sky seemingly lit up and that fleeting moment made the journey all the worthwhile.

Sunrise over Broken Hill with the silhouette of the Line of Lode.

Finally it was time to head back into Broken Hill to get a nice sunrise image from one of the lookouts, and the sky certainly didn’t disappoint once again. As the sun started to rise the horizon lit up like it was on fire against the cool blue which signified that it was time to jump in the car and head back to civilisation and start planning to get the snow shots that I needed for the project. Even though I didn’t get a great landscape image on this brief trip, the whole experience and relaxing feeling was well worth the near 20 hours of driving.

The famous Silverton sign just outside the town.

Broken Hill is one of the most surprising places that I’ve visited for a very long time, you do research before planning these trips but I can honestly say that I was underprepared for this trip and I missed out on so much. This is also the risk of a scouting trip when you really only have 1 day to get everything covered. The one thing that I can say is that I will definitely be back to do a video for the YouTube channel, and highly recommend anyone that if you are an overseas visitor after a unique experience – or even an Australian after a time out, the Broken Hill area is well worth the effort to get there.

Links

Geoscience Australia Information on the Broken Hill mine.

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Categories: NSW/ACT

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