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Location of Silverton in the far west of New South Wales

Silverton is a small village at the far west of New South Walesmarker, Australia, 25 kilometres north-west of Broken Hillmarker. At the 2006 census, Silverton had a population of 89 people.

The town sprung up after the discovery of rich silver deposits, although it was soon eclipsed by an even richer silver-lead-zinc ore body at nearby Broken Hillmarker. The town is often referred to as a ghost town; however, there remains a small permanent population and mainly tourist related businesses.


The Peter Browne Gallery, established in a renovated ruin in Silverton
St. Carthage Catholic Church
The earliest human settlers in the area are thought to be the Wiljakali Aborigines, although this was probably only intermittent due to lack of permanent water sources. As in much of Australia, a combination of disease and aggression by white settlers drove them from their lands.

The first European to visit the area was the then Surveyor General of New South Wales, Major Thomas Mitchell, in 1841. Three years later, in 1844, the explorer Charles Sturt saw and named the Barrier Range while searching for an inland sea; the range was so named as it was a barrier to his progress north. Burke and Wills passed through the area in their famous 1860-61 expedition, setting up a base camp at nearby Menindeemarker. Pastoralists first began settling the area in the 1850s, with the main trade route to the area along the Darling Rivermarker.

Prospectors began working in the area in 1867 when a local station-hand claimed to have found gold there. It was later discovered that his plan was merely a pretext for stealing a horse.

Some years later in 1875, two men drilling a well on a station south of the town site hit a lode of silver. In October 1886 the Silverton Municipal Council was formed and held its inaugural meeting in January 1887 in the Silverton Municipal Chambers, which still exist. The town's population quickly increased reaching a peak around 3,000 in the 1890s, and the Silverton Tramway was opened in 1888 connecting the town to South Australia.

Many of the houses built were of simple iron and canvas construction. The rapid depletion of the high-grade ore around Silverton, along with the discovery of an even richer silver-lead-zinc ore body in nearby Broken Hillmarker led to a sudden decline in Silverton's population, with many of those leaving taking their homes with them.

20th Century

By 1901 the town and immediate area was home to less than 300 people.

In 1915, The Battle of Broken Hill took place near Silverton, when the train from Broken Hillmarker to Silverton was attacked by a gunman from Afghanistanmarker, and modern-day Pakistanmarker.

Present day

The John Dynon Gallery
Silverton today is inhabited by a permanent population of only about 50 people, but its history and location make it a relatively popular tourist destination. Several artists live in or around the town, including Peter Browne, Albert Woodroffe and John Dynon, with some maintaining their own galleries. This is in line with the significant number of artists working out of nearby Broken Hill, as the surrounding landscape and lighting is particularly amenable to the creation of art.

Most of the original buildings have now vanished or lie in ruins, but there are some interesting buildings that remain, including the Silverton Hotel and the Silverton Gaol. Silverton has been the scene for more than 140 films and commercials thanks to the light, the character-filled colonial buildings and its scenic desert surrounds.

The hotel is regularly featured in these productions, and its inside walls are covered with memorabilia. A replica car, the Pursuit Special from Mad Max and Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, is usually parked outside the hotel. Other well known productions filmed in and around Silverton include The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, The Flying Doctors, and Dirty Deeds.

There is a certain eeriness about the deserted town's scattered buildings, treeless hills, and views towards endless plains of emptiness, along with remains of the closed Silverton Tramway.

A short drive north of the main town is a lookout with a remarkable view over the Mundi Mundi plains. Commonly referred to as looking out into the Never Never, it is a fantastic place to view the sunset.

See also


  1. "Silverton." Broken Hill: Accessible Outback. 2007, Edition 15, p26.
  2. "History." Broken Hill: Accessible Outback. 2007, Edition 15, p4.
  3. Welcome to Historic Silverton, tourist brochure, c.2008

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