One of Broken Hill’s true heroes is self-taught amateur botanist Albert Morris – without him, the Silver City may not even be standing today.
In the 1930s, Albert Morris orchestrated one of the first successful environmental restoration projects in Australia.
Collaborating with the Broken Hill community and the local mining companies he commenced the Regeneration Areas which today surround and protect the city from the raging dust of the desert and which are now listed by the National Trust.
The innovative work of Albert Morris earned him a reputation as a pioneer environmentalist whose ideas have since been copied by mining cities across Australia and the world.
Suffering from a leg injury that denied him any sporting pursuits, Albert Morris turned his attention to desert flora and founded the Barrier Field Naturalists Club in 1936 which commenced a program to reduce the effects of wind erosion.
A 22-acre (9 hectare) plantation was established at the Zinc Mine and through the process of native vegetation Morris and his dedicated team defeated the drifts of sand that were swallowing the outskirts of the city.
Using waste water from the miners’ shower rooms, Morris and his team starting reclaiming the land which had been denuded by overstocking, the rabbit plague and the felling of trees for fuel. The success of the scheme was closely followed by agriculture experimentalists throughout the world.
Sadly, Morris did not live to see the greening of Broken Hill after succumbing to a brain tumour in 1939, aged 52.
A drinking fountain in front of the Technical College in Argent Street commemorates the legacy of Albert Morris, to whom Broken Hill and all those who have shared in the mining town’s rich underground bounty owe a debt of gratitude.