Queen Elizabeth Park
"I do not think that anyone could fly, as I have done today, across the vast stretches of the Australian outback and come to this modern city, built upon the barren reaches of the Barrier Range, without a sense of amazement at the achievement which its existence represents.” Queen Elizabeth II, Broken Hill Royal Visit, 18 March 1954.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip arrived in Broken Hill for a three-hour tour on March 18th, 1954. The royal couple were driven from the airport through the suburb of Railwaytown and the Central Business District before driving around the ground of the Broken Hill District Hospital where patients and nursing staff greeted them with great excitement.
The whole city was decorated with Australian flags and photographs and banners depicting the Queen. A crowd, estimated at 40,000 people, represented Broken Hill and surrounds, including every dignitary and official in the city, school children, miners, shopkeepers, station hands and union bosses.
Hundreds of invited guests congregated at the official reception for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip held at North Park, renamed Queen Elizabeth Park at this event to honour the Royal Visit. North Park was built for the people of Broken Hill by the North Mine in 1940. The North Progress Committee planted hundreds of trees in the area. North Mine Hall was built within the grounds by the North Mine and transferred to Broken Hill City Council in 1941.
The Queen’s speech on that momentous day in North Park described Broken Hill as a “great mining centre, one of the main springs of Australia's industrial strength, equipped for every need of modern life, in the face of every difficulty nature could devise.” To her, the city represented the romance of the Australian outback and she clearly admired the resilience and spirit of its people.
The Queen’s wireless radio broadcast, which later beamed across the country from the Flying Doctor Service base to remote desert townships and homesteads, reached out to “sheep and cattle station families, boundary riders, well sinkers, drovers and people in outback hospitals and mission stations,” so the ABC reported. “Every one of them hung on to the clear words which brought the Queen into their lonely world.” The Flying Doctor Service was, on this visit, granted a royal charter and became the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
A redevelopment of Queen Elizabeth Park, supported by Broken Hill and City Council and the NSW Government through the Crown Reserves Improvement Fund, was completed in 2022. Queen Elizabeth Park is now home to West Darling Machinery Preservation Society’s ‘little picnic train’ which is reminiscent of the open-carriage trains that once carried the families of miners on outings from Sulphide Street Railway Station to annual picnics in Silverton, thirty-five kilometres to the north-west of the city.
Queen Elizabeth Park is a lasting reminder that Broken Hill was part of the royal tour, and that its people inspired the Monarch.
Audio transcript available.