Sunset, Sand and Sculpture

It’s amazing what you can find in the desert.



A few scrubby bushes.

And sculpture.

Sculptures in the Desert at Broken HillMany, many years ago I received a Christmas card in the mail (Yes, how antiquated) featuring a striking sandstone sculpture set in a dramatic landscape with a golden sun sinking into the horizon in the background. Yes, it was probably the most unusual Christmas card design on the planet and it has stuck in my mind ever since. When we planned our western road trip to Outback New South Wales (NSW), on the top of my list of places to visit was the Sculptures and the Living Desert.

Located approximately nine kilometres North of Broken Hill, the Sculptures and Living Desert site was established by the local Council to protect and promote the native plants and animals of the region. The 2 400ha reserve started out as a simple patch of arid landscape and was then enhanced to include the:

Sculptures in the Desert at Broken HillBroken Hill has long been a magnet for artists of all kind, with an extra special attraction to painters who cannot resist its ochre and red soils and stark landscapes. In 1993 the Council organised a sculpture symposium and 53 tonnes of sandstone blocks were trucked from Wilcannia, 200km away.

Sculptors from around the World, including Mexico, Georgia, Syria, and of course, Australia were invited to transform the simple sandstone blocks into works of art representing their stories and mythologies. The end product was 12 sculptures varying in size and complexity, truly enhancing a lonely hilltop in Outback NSW.

Sculptures in the Desert at Broken HillI had been told that sunset was the best time to view the sculptures and as the heat started to wane, we made our way out of Broken Hill. The local Tourist Office displays the sunset time in their window and we had noted that (in late November) sunset was due at 740pm. Even at that time of the evening it was still 30°C. Don’t travel far without a water bottle in outback Australia.

As we drove North, the evening light was gentle on the landscape softening the view into a palette of rich golds and browns. Being a weeknight, there was very little traffic and it felt like we were the only car within hundreds of kilometres. The turn-off was well sign-posted and as the road twisted and turned it was almost as if, with every kilometre, we were working our way deeper into the landscape. Finally the road started to climb up a steep hill, to open into a clear parking area. We had arrived.

Sculptures in the Desert at Broken HillOnly a few cars were in the parking area which made me think that we would have the place pretty much to ourselves. Some very clever people had brought their wine and picnic chairs and were well positioned to make the most of the sunset. A good plan if you are considering a visit.

My immediate sense was that this was a very peaceful and calming space. The sculptures were warm to touch and radiated the heat of the day. It was blissfully quiet and the only real movement was from the soft breeze nudging the low shrubs and hard grasses. Unfortunately the breeze did nothing to discourage the thousands of incredibly persistent flies. It wouldn’t be Australia without the flies!

Sculptures in the Desert at Broken HillThe 12 sculptures were dramatically different in their design and structure and I do admit to being a little disappointed. I was expecting them to be more striking and dominant, to stand proud of the desert landscape, but many of them were almost overwhelmed by the environment. Perhaps the designs and patterns had simply weathered away under the harsh conditions of this region.

Eventually the sun began to dip towards the horizon and the last few photos were taken. Three people sprinted to the top of the hill just as the sun disappeared. “Missed it by that much”, as Maxwell Smart would say.

Sculptures in the Desert at Broken HillIt was a special way to spend an evening. Sitting and contemplating the rough and rolling Barrier Ranges and watching the evening light transform the sculptures from hard, inanimate objects to soft, glowing statues that seemed to have grown out of the hill itself.

Ribbons of dust hung over the valley floor as vehicles made their way home at the end of a long working day. It was the perfect way to end the day, serenity amongst the sculptures, out in the sand, out in the desert.

Sculptures in the Desert at Broken HillHave you found sculptures in strange places?


The Basics

What: Entrance to the Living Desert, including the sculptures is $6.00 per person.

Where: The Sculptures are located on the northern outskirts of Broken Hill. Broken Hill is located around 1 150km west of Sydney and 520km from Adelaide.

Sculptures in the Desert at Broken HillWhen: The Sculptures opening hours vary depending on the season. In Summer, it’s open from 600am until 30 minutes after sunset and for the rest of the year, from 830am until 30 minutes after sunset. For sunset times, check the window of the Broken Hill Visitor Information Centre or the web.

Why: To enjoy the flora, fauna and fine arts in a stunning landscape.

How: You will need a car to travel out to the sculptures as there is no public transport. You could walk there (around 17.5km return) or cycle, however be careful of traffic if you are traveling in the late afternoon or evening. There is no designated walking/cycle path.

Sculptures in the Desert at Broken HillWho: The Sculptures are accessed by a smooth concrete path. The path does have a few undulations and steep parts, so while accessible by wheelchairs and strollers, some care is required.

Related Posts: What else is there to see and do in Broken Hill? Especially when too much art is never enough? Check out my post about the range of spectacular art galleries located in and around the town.

Related Blogs: To read a little more about the Broken Hill region, check out one of the 84 blog posts or 1001 photos about Broken Hill here.

Sculptures in the Desert at Broken HillRead About It: To a slightly older view of Broken Hill, grab a copy of the Ion L Idriess’ memoir called The Silver City. Idriess was a prolific chronicler of Outback Australia. Released in 1956 this historical memoir is based on Idriess’ experiences of growing up in Broken Hill. It is also a general history of the city. Available from Book Depository.

Sculptures in the Desert at Broken Hill

#outbackart #travelinspo #brokenhill #outdoorart #artistictravel #ruralregionalremote #ourbackyard #stayinthebush #sculpturesinthedesert

29 thoughts on “Sunset, Sand and Sculpture

  1. That first shot is brilliant. I love the ochre colours of the Australian landscape.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t lay claim to owning the banner image. Captured by a far more skilled photographer than moi! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh well, the rest are absolutely well captured 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Many thanks for the praise! No where near a patch on your photography skills. I am far too much of a ‘happy snapper’! 🙂


  2. Very cool Mel! Love all the pics. The only thing close to this is the Arches national park in Moab. Hope all is well with ya bad self!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OOO – I don’t think I have ever been called a ‘bad self’! I like it! 🙂 Mel

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It happened to me on the island of Elba in a bay full of giant rocks: a lunar landscape😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is so nice when the landscape speaks to us. Even if it is on the moon! Take care, Mel

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yes my friend ❤😊

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Looks like a beautiful place. It reminds me of the red stone landscapes in Sedona, Arizona. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have the most stunning deserts and rock formations in the US. Not that I have seen them in person, just marveled at pictures. I think, at times like these, we really need to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. Have a good day, Mel


  5. Maybe not overwhelming in scale, but the colours and textures are lovely, Mel 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep – Nature cannot be beaten on both colour and texture!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a clever idea. I would definitely make time to see that if I were in the area. It looks beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a little off the usual beaten tourist path in Aus, but well-worth a visit! Happy Friday, Mel

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! Happy Thursday evening – ha ha!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, I thought of that as I hit SEND! Blogging knows no time difference!

          Liked by 1 person

  7. I lived in Broken Hill while the sculptures were being hammered out of rock. I used to go out early in the morning to check on progress and listen to the music of carving. They were one of my last pilgrimage places when I moved away from the Hill. Thank you for reviving memories.


    1. Now that would have been pretty special! You would have got a real feeling for the creations being born out of the stone. Half your luck! Thanks for sharing your memories too. I can understand why you still have a strong connection to that place. Have a good day, Mel


    1. Yep – it’s pretty special out there. I think it is something to do with the contrast between the harshness of nature and the hand-sculpted beauty. Thanks for reading.


  8. I visited Broken Hill in 1998, but I didn’t know about the sculptures! Such a shame as I would love to have seen them, doubt I shall be that way again though, there are so many wonderful places to visit in your vast country. I do remember pommepal showing photos of this site a couple of years ago I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wonderful pictures of such a harsh environment. Australia is one of those places I want to visit and I want to thank you for taking the time to give all of the extra info needed to visit this site.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My pleasure. Thanks for reading and coming along on the little adventure. Have a good weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Looking forward to other adventures.

        Liked by 1 person

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