107. Ambush Site

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This site, with its symbolic memorial of an open ore carriage, was the location of the only hostilities on Australian soil during World War I.  

It was New Year’s Day 1915, the annual outing for the members and families of the Manchester United Order of Oddfellows Lodge [MUOOF]. The train departed Sulphide Street Station carrying 1200 people in ‘open ore trucks’ for a picnic at Stephens Creek Silverton. About two miles out of Broken Hill, an ice-cream cart was sighted on the northern side of the line. The ice-cream cart was flying the Turkish flag and, behind it, crouched two men in turbans with rifles pointing straight at the train.  

The riflemen fired 20-30 shots as the train steamed passed the ice cream cart, instantly killing four and wounding seven other passengers. There was turmoil and shock as the passengers realised the shooting was not part of New Year’s Day celebrations. Many assisted the wounded as the train eventually stopped at Tramway Dam where a call was put through to the Police and to every available doctor in Broken Hill.   

Soon after the attack, the train was shunted to safety back to Broken Hill. The attackers retreated to the nearby hills as they headed towards the Afghan camel camps on the outskirts of Broken Hill.  

The attackers took refuge at White Rocks (Trail No 33), approximately three kilometres from here. In the three-hour gun battle which followed between the gunmen and police and the volunteer rifles, two four men were killed and seven four wounded. Both gunmen were dead by the end of the day. 

Audio transcript available.