Film, Music & Literature
Broken Hill’s wealth is not only in the mines. A rich vein of creative capital has also shaped this city. The famous Outback Art movement that took the art world by storm began here and Broken Hill continues to attract a steady influx of artists, actors, writers, poets, musicians, and filmmakers who contribute to the city’s unique culture.
Broken Hill has been called ‘the place where Hollywood meets the outback’. The landscape has played a lead role in a number of iconic Australian films, embedding it deeply in global popular culture. The 1971 film Wake in Fright, starring local legend Chips Rafferty in his final role, has become film history. The unforgettable apocalyptic vision of Mad Max 2, filmed in the surrounding desert, has inspired fan pilgrimages from all over the world. Another iconic film, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, put the Palace Hotel on the world map and launched the flamboyant Broken Heel Festival that is an annual celebration.
The brass band movement was strong in Broken Hill. In 1912, Broken Hill bands raised money to erect a memorial in Sturt Park in honour of the heroic bandsmen of the Titanic. The Quartette Club was an early cultural attraction with the Barrier Miner in 1901 reporting a hall filled with the music loving public and praising the “artistically got-up” programme. By the early 1960s, the Philharmonic Society, the Broken Hill Repertory Society, the Barrier Industrial Unions' Band were also flourishing. The 25-member Broken Hill Orchestra held its first performance in 1975. Internationally celebrated opera singer June Bronhill’s singing career began as a child in Broken Hill’s Crystal Theatre.
The city’s ‘theme song’, Broken Hill I Love You Still, was composed and written by local theatrical talent Fred Jobson, who also designed the Broken Hill City crest, a shield capturing the city’s pastoral, geological and cultural uniqueness.
Some of Australia’s literary greats also came from or made their home in Broken Hill. These include Ion L. Idriess OBE who published 47 books in his lifetime. Idriess brought colonial Broken Hill and some of its most colourful characters such as Snake Juice Charlie to life. The journalist and poet Dame Mary Gilmore DBE, who has strong ties with Broken Hill, has her portrait printed on the Australian ten dollar note.
The surrounding area, predating the establishment of Broken Hill, is a cultural landscape that includes some of the most remarkable rock art in the country, and significant song lines of ancestral beings and stories of creation that are of central importance to the Traditional Owners, the Wilyakali people.
Audio transcript available.