Heroes, Larrikins & Visionaries Trail

Vivian Bullwinkle black and white portrait with the words Heroes larrikans and Visionaries Trail


From the ingenuity of the earliest inhabitants the Wilyakali, to the local athletes who became national achievers and Olympians, Broken Hill has always had something special.

Most of Australia’s mining executives started out here, and the only people killed on Australian soil in World War I were at Broken Hill.

The Heroes, Larrikins and Visionaries walking trail takes you on a journey into Broken Hill’s vibrant history: the city’s story told through the stories of the people who came from all over Australia and around the world to start a new life or to make their fortunes or to create change.

Broken Hill has produced some of the greats in business, sports, the arts and the sciences. People like the self-taught ecologists Albert and Margaret Morris who restored the native flora, and the workers’ hero Percy Brookfield, the brilliant engineer A.J. Keast, the unlikely screen idol Chips Rafferty, the artist Pro Hart, and geologist David Branagan and Ernest Wetherall, the Labor politician who brought water to Broken Hill. Occupational health began in Broken Hill as men like Brookfield and union president Richard Sleath, who sat on the board of inquiry into the alarmingly high instances of lead poisoning at the silver-lead mines.

Broken Hill’s war heroes and heroines, including Lt. Colonel Vivienne Bullwinkel and Provate Reginald Inwood VC, risked their own lives to save others’ and were awarded the highest military and civil honours: the Order of Australia, the Order of the British Empire and the Victoria Cross for their outstanding service.

Living in the desert, with its dust storms and water shortages, isolation and many hardships, creates resourcefulness and practicality, and the women of Broken Hill held their families and communities together when the shortage of fresh food and water created hardship. Some invented their own livelihoods, by necessity or choice, like Francis Egan the restaurant towner who famously won a pitched battle with the unions, and Selina Hearn McHugh Broken Hill’s first female blacksmith.

Tess Alfonsi was the first woman to own a mine in Australia and Nydia Edes was the first woman elected to the Broken Hill City Council. In 1980, Broken Hill gymnast Marina Sulicich represented Australia at the Moscow Olympics. The ‘heroes, larrikins and visionaries’ of Broken Hill overcame the many obstacles of living in a remote desert city. All, in some way, contributed to a place whose history and culture is unique.

Audio transcript available.