Brief Broken Hill History

Born in Saxony in 1846, Charles Rasp, the man who discovered Broken Hill’s Line of Lode, was born Hieronymous Salvator Lopez von Pereira.

As a boundery rider, he patrolled the Mt Gipps fences and discovered what he thought were deposits of tin. Rasp’s samples were silver and lead, and the ore body became the largest and richest of its kind in the world. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company was launched by a ‘Syndicate of Seven’ in 1885. The syndicate was Charles Rasp, George McCulloch, George Lind, Philip Charley, David James, James Poole, George Urquart, however some in the syndicate sold out before the shares were released.

Mining Industry

Mining has been a part of Broken Hill since 1883 when the first sign of wealth was discovered by Charles Rasp, who then set up the BHP mine with the Syndicate of Seven. The famous BHP (Broken Hill Proprietary) company left Broken Hill in 1939 and since then a total of 14 different mining companies have made Broken Hill their home and their fortune. At its peak in 1952, the Broken Hill mining industry employed 6500 people along an ore body 7.5km long by 250m wide.

From the old pick and shovel days in the 1800’s to the fully mechanized methods used in present day mining, you will find examples of these techniques in the various mine tours and mining museums available to the tourist.

From any vantage point in the city, the huge dumps and towering headframes are reminders of the industry which provides the city with its means of life. The importance of the mining industry is never forgotten.  Have you seen the replica Headframe on the Adelaide Road?  This a replica of No.7 Headframe of the South Mine…..this was a bequest of Peter W Seward.

Syndicate of Seven

George McCulloch, Charles Rasp, James Poole, David James, Philip Charley, George Urquhart and George Lind. These seven men came from diverse backgrounds, intellect and foresight to form the first mining company in Broken Hill.

Rasp and his fellow station hands, David James and James Poole, pegged out the original lease in September 1883. Rasp is the most famous of the seven today, but it was the equally well educated (and considerably tougher) George McCulloch who masterminded the syndicate and helped form the Broken Hill Proprietary Company in 1885. An active patron of the arts, McCulloch helped establish what is now the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery (on the condition that entry was free for everyone, as it still is today). He also funded Broken Hill’s first hospital.

Another who benefited was Philip Charley, the young jackaroo who first recognised silver chlorides near Rasp Shaft (pegged by McCulloch). His ongoing involvement enabled him to import a 1907 Silver Ghost – the first Rolls Royce in Australia.

Others didn’t do so well. George Urquhart and George Lind, sold their shares at a loss. James Poole sold half his share to the cattle king, Sidney Kidman, for a herd of bullocks worth only 40 pounds. As perspective on their mistakes; BHP mined ore worth more than 42,000 pounds in its first year alone.

You can see busts of the original ‘Syndicate of Seven’ outside the Broken Hill Council Chambers.


Broken Hill is a ‘living museum’. There are underground experiences for the adventurer and above ground mines to visit and explore. Our attractions are varied and cater to all age groups and the budget conscious.

Did you know that Broken Hill was the scene of the only enemy attack on Australian soil in WWI! On 1st January 1915 – only four months before the Anzac’s fought the Turks at Gallipoli, a trainload of Oddfellows were on their way to a New Year’s Day picnic in Silverton from Broken Hill, when on the eastern fringes of the town the train passed an ice-cream cart flying the Turkish flag. Two men in the cart had rifles and some picnickers thought they must be shooting at rabbits. Then the men fired 20 or 30 rounds at the train. A railway truck marks the scene of the shooting (listed on the City’s heritage trail) and there is a replica ice-cream cart at White Rocks, at the northern end of town, the scene of the later shoot-out…and if you really want to find out more visit the Sulphide Street Railway Museum in Broken Hill.