Diverse & Eclectic

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The diversity of Broken Hill’s people, historical and contemporary, reflects an eclectic community, from the First Nation Wilyakali Elders past and present, to the pioneers who came by camel, horse, and travelled on foot across the desert to start a new life here.

The infrastructure of the town could not have developed without the contribution of the migrant population, who started arriving in Broken Hill from 1883 and were still arriving in the 1960s. The city’s new residents worked in the mines, started businesses, helped to build schools and churches, lay pipelines and railway tracks.

The steady influx of miners, migrants, political radicals, artists, created partnerships between industrialists and environmentalists, artists and producers. The city’s ancestors came from many lands: Afghan cameleers, war heroines, Jewish migrants, radical unionists and pioneering women stand out for their remarkable achievements.

Charles Rasp, who discovered the famous lump of Silver and Zinc ore, was a boundary rider and agricultural worker, but also a German chemist. Doctor Franziska Schlink was one of Broken Hill’s first female doctor’s and one of the few women permitted to go underground when she insisted on having access to treat injured miners. The progressive educator Don Maclean served on the World Education Fellowship and was also an author and historian. Myra Juliette Farrell was a visionary, inventor and artist who held more than twenty-five patents.

Wilyakali elder Maureen O’Donnell was a beloved community leader and constant advocate for change. She was a founding member of the Mutawintji Aboriginal Land Council and Wilyakali Aboriginal Corporation, and many other community groups and organisations.

People came to Broken Hill to start new lives and join family, to create change, and to find inspiration. With its layers of settlement and itinerancy, hardship and prosperity, wherever you look in Broken Hill is evidence of the remarkable diversity of a community forged by isolation and resilience, but forward-looking and determined to make a difference.

Audio transcript available.