War in the Australian Outback

Broken HillBroken Hill is one Australian destination that needs very little introduction. Growing from a small mining township in the 1880s it has developed into a large mining and tourism centre.

 The town has been described as a living, breathing time-capsule with its many Art-Deco shop fronts from an era long-gone and many monuments that pay tribute to the men and women who forged an existence in the red-parched landscape making it what it is today.

Typical of many outback towns if you scratch a little beneath the surface it often reveals an underbelly that is interesting, unique, and important to the mosaic that makes up modern Australian history…

Many battles were fought at “The Hill” between miners and the management of the mining companies, but there was another battle that took place that laid a tragic mark on Australian history.

Many visitors to “The Hill” will be familiar with the caravan park on the town’s western boundary, and I have stayed at it on a number of occasions as we head to and from central Australia. However, many are unaware that within about half-a-kilometre of the park a significant event occurred on New Year’s Day 1915.

On this day the Great War visited Broken Hill when two camel drivers loyal to the Ottoman Empire opened fire with their rifles on a picnic train that was heading to Silverton, killing five men, women, and children.

The assailants were killed in a gun battle that went for a number of hours and this event is reported as being the only act of war to be committed on Australia soil.

A rail carriage similar to the one that was involved on this fateful day is positioned were the attack took place, little more than about a 15-minute walk from the caravan park.

So next time you visit Broken Hill be sure to scratch the surface a little, you’ll be sure to find something as precious as the metals they have mined there for well over a century.

 Photo: Baz – The Landy

An Artifact that survives in the Desert (Broken Hill)

Broken Hill, Australia

Broken Hill is one Australian town that needs very little introduction. Growing from a small mining township in the 1880s it has developed into a large mining and tourism centre.

The town has been described as a living, breathing time-capsule – “an artifact that survives in the desert and waits to be rediscovered with its Art-deco shop fronts from a bygone age and many monuments throughout the town paying homage to the men and women who suffered and died so the town could survive.”

Our overnight stay has not provided us with much of an opportunity to truly explore the town or the nearby town of Silverton on this visit, but there are a couple of things worth knowing that puts some further perspective on the town.

The Great War visited Broken Hill on New Year’s Day, 1915, when two camel drivers loyal to the Ottoman Empire opened fire on a picnic train, killing five men, women, and children in what remains the only act of war to be committed on Australian soil.  You can view where this occurred on a small lane not too far from the Broken Hill caravan park.

 

 

Broken Hill, Australia

During the second-world war a large part of Australia’s gold reserves were transferred to the town and away from the coastal capital cities to protect it from the possibility of a Japanese invasion.

And surprisingly, in Sturt Park there stands a monument to the musicians of the ill-fated Titanic that was erected in 1913. It would seem extraordinary that an inland community in Australia has a monument to the tragedy that occurred in the icy-waters of the Atlantic Ocean on the other side of the world…

Standing on the urban boundary we looked westward as the sun drifted low onto the horizon, the town at our back and nothing but the red desert ahead of us, as far as the eye can see.

 Click here to see where Baz, “The Landy” is today…

Photo, Baz – The Landy