Broken Hill. In and Around – Part 3

This is part three of our trip to the city of Broken Hill in the far west of New South Wales.

Desert Art 

I have already mentioned that there are plenty of art galleries in Broken Hill. But the artistic theme in this part of the world has been taken to another level in an exhibition of sculptures about 15 minutes drive out of Broken Hill. Into a place called ‘The Living Desert State Park’.

Broken Hill in the distance

The ‘Living Desert’ is set in the Barrier Ranges and is located 12km from Broken Hill. It is a 2400ha reserve and was established in 1992 by the city council, initially for the protection of native flora and fauna.

On top of the highest hill inside the reserve are the 12 sandstone sculptures, created in 1993 by various artists from all over the world. This is now one of the top attractions in the NSW Outback and another example of how an industrial town like Broken Hill has become entwined with both art & nature.

Stunning scenery in The Living Desert

IT’s not difficult to see why this place is a big hit with the tourists. For me however it was interesting but nothing special. The scenery that Mother Nature put here is more than adequate for me.

Bells Milk Bar, A Broken Hill Icon

As soon as I read about this place I put it on our itinerary. An easy sell to a six year old kid too. I was never going to have to drag him there was I?
“Do you want to go for a milk shake Dan?”
Sorted… Simple as that.

Bells Milk Bar
Original 1950s counter and utensils
Classic 1950s decor

Bells is known as one of the longest continuously running businesses in Broken Hill.  Originally it was called Fenton’s confectioner and cordial maker in 1892. Then in the early 1900s it was known as Longmans. When Minnie Pearl (Pearly) Longman survived her husband John who was killed in the first world war) she later remarried Les Bell and Bells was born…  From 1938 to 1953 the place went through several changes. The most dramatic design alteration was in 1956 and this is largely how the site remains today.

Older readers will recognise these old brands
A living, working museum
A typical 1950s kitchen in the museum part of the milk bar.
I had to explain how this old TV worked…

Considering the Broken Hill area has been used in so many movies I am surprised I have not read about this place being used in movies or TV or commercials. It would be perfect for a film set in the 1950s. Does anyone know if it has been used as a movie location? Please let us know.

Dani was ‘ere. Bells Milk Bar, October 2020
Another room in Bells

And yes. The milk shakes are excellent. I would definitely have another!

White Rocks Site

This is an odd one. It is also hard not to find it a little funny but there were deaths and injuries involved so bear with me…

The story goes that this spot was the scene of a gun battle during the First World War – the only hostilities on Australian soil during the that war . On New Year’s Day 1915 two Turkish sympathisers opened fire and shot at the train that was carrying some 1200 people. Four train passengers died and several more injured in the attack. The attackers were an ice cream seller, Gool Mahomed, and a butcher, Mullah Abdullah.  They then took refuge at this site while heading back to the Afghan camel site. Police and the volunteer rifles engaged the attackers and killed them.

Obviously a serious incident but the funny part for me is the replica ice cream cart. Clearly never meant to be a kid’s climbing frame…

White Rocks. The Quartz outcrop just outside Broken Hill and scene of Australia’s only hostilities during the First World War
The incident took place right at the edge of town
Full size replica of the infamous ice cream cart
The regeneration area outside of town

More to come from the Broken Hill area in Part Four…

In case you missed the earlier posts you can see Part One here and Part Two here.
The post on the Daydream Mine tour is here.
Also search for the three posts on the nearby ‘ghost town’ of Silverton.

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