Background History of Broken Hill
Originally called "The Broken Hill" due to its jagged peaks, the orebody of Broken Hill of Broken Hill was discovered by boundary rider Charles Rasp in 1883. Mineral claims were pegged, and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company (BHP) floated in 1885, from a few huts and tents the town grew rapidly. The municipality of Broken Hill was incorporated on the 22nd of September 1888, just five years later after Rasp pegged the first mineral lease, and at a time when the population had dramatically increased to 11,000 people. Broken Hill was laid out in a grid parallel to the adjacent mining leases, and the history of the settlement is preserved in the street names, after minerals, mining officials and the first aldermen. By 1907, Broken Hill was the largest town in New South Wales after Sydney and reached is maximum population of 35,000 in 1915.
Syndicate of Seven
Charles Rasp discovered a boomerang shaped (Broken Hill) in 1883 at Mount Gipps Station, he wasn’t to know his discovery would form the basis of the worlds two biggest mining companies, BHP Billiton, and Rio Tinto. With the support of George McCulloch, Rasp formed the ‘Syndicate of Seven’. The syndicate included Charles Rasp, George McCulloch, James Poole, David James, Philip Charley, George Urquhart, and George Lind. These seven men came from diverse backgrounds, intellect, and foresight to form the first mining company in Broken Hill.
Mining in Broken Hill
Broken Hill’s ore body is the richest lead, silver and zinc deposit ever found. Extending for 7.5 kilometres in a northeast-southwest direction, the line of load is shaped like an inverted boomerang. It outcropped in the centre with the ends dipping steeply to a depth of 1,600 metres. Mine employment peaked at 8,800 in 1907, but only 366 were employed by mining Broken Hill in 2010. BHP employed one-third of the workforce at its peak in the early 1900s but quit Broken Hill in 1939. The wealth won at Broken Hill was used to establish Australia’s iron and steel industry and BHP Billiton today is a world leader in iron ore production. Broken Hill has been the scene of many major developments in mining and metallurgical technology, and the gains won at the mines by the union movement have had a lasting impact on industrial relations in Australia.
Broken Hill Today
The built heritage of the Broken Hill is of national significance. Over the last 25 years, the city has been re-invented as a living museum where visitors can experience both past and present. The city horizon is dominated by the impressive line of load, a seven-kilometre length of tailings, waste rock and overburden from the early mines. The Miner’s Memorial and Visitors Centre was completed in 2001 and now distinctively crown the ridge line. Broken Hill continues to be actively involved in the preservation and restoration of its buildings and funds, providing free architectural advice to owners of heritage buildings. Broken Hill also has developed as a vibrant focus for artists, and the city abounds with art galleries showcasing views of the remarkable outback and cityscapes. The dramatic mining infrastructure set in the undulating and colourful desert plain, and the fiercely independent spirit of the citizens has been the inspiration for sculptures, paintings, photographs, and films. Follow this trail and you will discover the interesting history and architecture of this captivating city.