The Sundown Nature Trail is part of the Living Desert State Park but unlike the rest of the park not accessible from the Nine Mile Road. To access the Sundown Trail follow the Silver City Highway towards Tibooburra for 10km. The turnoff is signposted and is located just before Lawrence Engineering’s large shed. Follow the 2.2km graded track to a car park at the beginning of the trail.
The walk is at its best in the hours immediately before sunset or just after sunrise. The trail is a 2.8km long loop and takes approximately 1.5 hours to complete. The terrain is hilly and rocky and is suitable for people with moderate levels of fitness. The walk is suitable for children over 7 if accompanied by an adult.
Although close to town, it is still the outback. Do not attempt the walk during the middle of a hot day in summer. Take your own water and supplies. Wear strong shoes. Hiking poles are recommended.
It’s your trail – take only photographs – leave only footprints
The trail was originally conceived and constructed as a voluntary project for the Broken Hill Centenary in 1983, by the Barrier Environment Group. The trail and information were refreshed in 2018 by volunteers from the Barrier Rangers, Barrier Field Naturalists’ Club and NSW Roads and Maritime Services as a Foundation Broken Hill 25in25 Liveability project with the assistance of the Broken Hill City Council.
The hills are sparsely vegetated with tough, perennial plants adapted to the harsh, dry environment. In a good season following rain ephemeral grasses, wildflowers and other herbs also appear. In the carpark eucalypts have been introduced to provide shade for visitors.
For nearly 100 years the Common was heavily grazed by stock and rabbits and the amount and diversity of vegetation have been reduced as a consequence. In the early days too, many trees were harvested for firewood and fence-posts and for use in the mines. Today grazing and tree removal are no longer permitted. Rabbits are being controlled with the introduction of selective diseases whilst feral goats remain a pest in the region.
Euros, the stocky dark wallaby (Macropus robustus) and Red and Western Grey kangaroos (Macropus rufus; M. fuliginosus) may be seen especially in the gullies. Reptiles include skinks, shingle back lizards, bearded dragons, goannas and brown snakes. Wedge-tailed eagles circle the ridges and wrens and finches dart among the bushes whilst galahs, parrots and crows call overhead.
Rocks along the trail are metamorphic schists and pegmatite. The schists were originally sandstones and shales deposited about 1800 million years ago. They were laid down in a rift sea on top of the silver, lead and zinc-rich rocks which now form the Broken Hill orebody. The rocks have been deeply buried and completely folded and are now made up mainly of quartz, feldspar, mica and sillimanite. The pale coloured course-grained rock which cuts across the schist is pegmatite. The pegmatite intruded the schist as molten magma several hundred million years later and crystallized to form white translucent quartz, creamy opaque feldspar, flaky clear-brown muscovite (mica) and, in places, red garnet and beryl.