Broken Hill Mines – The Story – Introduction

Article by Noel F. Kennon


This is the first part of the story of Broken Hill. It was published earlier in 2020 in the Monthly Mineral Chronicles.

The beginning

The Story of Broken Hill was first prepared in 2012, in PowerPoint form, for presentation as the Annual Club Lecture to the Illawarra Lapidary Club Inc. in February 2013.  Subsequently it was picked up by the Mineralogical Society of New South Wales Inc. and delivered as the Betty Mayne & Edna Walker Memorial Lecture for 2015.  Those two ladies were major benefactors of the Society, and are remembered for their contributions with a memorial lecture following the Annual General Meeting in August each year.


Over 2013, 2014 and the first part of 2015, the original PowerPoint was developed, expanded and extended to be more comprehensive, particularly with respect to the mines and how the lode was exploited.  Initially, this involved searching the internet for relevant web sites, but then I found reference to the Broken Hill Historical Society Inc.

I contacted the Co-ordinator, Mrs. Margaret Price, to see whether there was anybody working for the Society who might be able to provide answers to the many questions I had relating to the mines, particularly questions concerning the early days.  In response, she asked me to send the questions and the staff there would do what they could.  Well, they were brilliant.  Members of the Mineralogical Society of New South Wales Inc. and others provided some information, but it was Margaret Price, her Dad, Malcolm Buttery, and colleague Bill Keenan who were assiduous in digging into the Historical Society resources to help fill in some of the missing pieces in what I was trying to write. 

I am greatly in their debt and acknowledge their contribution to this story.  Margaret claims the work that was done is in masters degree territory and, as a one-time academic, I am inclined to agree with her!  

Finally, I must share part of her response to my final three questions.  Her email reads in part: “It is a huge jigsaw and I wish I paid more attention as I was growing up and listened more carefully to my Dad.  He has recently turned 99 and tried to pass on his knowledge.  If I ask him a question now he refers to the year he told me and is reluctant to tell me again!”.

I must emphasise that this story was first prepared for oral presentation using material from many sources, and I saw no need, (or was unable), to keep detailed records of the origins of the hundreds of individual scraps of that material in the PowerPoint slides.  Consequently, I cannot provide references or even a bibliography to fully acknowledge the large number of authors from whom I must have taken material as it would be a task of near impossibility to recover those origins. 

I therefore claim no originality for the material in this work, and hereby gratefully acknowledge all of those authors whose material I have used.  For some figures, I am able to acknowledge the origin as follows, but the others must remain unidentified.   Some are my own work.

  1. Minerals of Broken Hill, Edition 2
  2. Minerals of Broken Hill, Edition 1
  3. HEMA Australian Road Atlas


In researching the early days I found some old maps showing the mining leases in and around Broken Hill in the Mitchell Library, Sydney but, unfortunately, the information they provide is inconsistent.  Additionally, old papers, books and manuscripts, literature of other kinds, web sites and so on, tell different stories – some radically so.  It certainly is a huge jigsaw and, with pieces seemingly missing, it may possibly never be solved with a reasonable degree of satisfaction.  So where does the truth of the matter lie?  Who knows?  Certainly not me, and so I cannot guarantee the accuracy of some of the things in this story.  Which things – I don’t know.  All I could do was to give the interpretations my best shot and that’s what I have done.

This Story

After having given the presentation to the New South Wales Mineralogical Society Inc., it seemed appropriate to convert the PowerPoint slides into a hard copy document (in black & white), that could be published on the Society’s website, passed on to anybody who wanted it and, especially, presented to Margaret Price for her and her colleagues to see what their efforts have led to, and for inclusion in the records of the Historical Society should she so wish. 

It is that hard copy that is the basis for this Broken Hill Mines – the Story told in seven chapters. 1. The Early Days 2. Finding the Lode 3. The Lode 4. Mining the Lode 5. Our Mineral Heritage 6. The Collectors 7. The Minerals