Broken Hill is an isolated mining city on the Barrier Highway in far west New South Wales (NSW), just over 500 km from Adelaide. It is closer to South Australia’s capital city than Sydney, NSW’s state capital. When silver-lead-zinc ore was first discovered at Broken Hill in 1883, the town developed rapidly over the next decade with the establishment of Broken Hill Propriety, then and now (as BHP Billiton), the world’s largest mining company.
The outbreak of the Great War in 1914 saw the closure of several of Broken Hills’ mines due to the suspension of German contracts. The resulting unemployment of many miners led to an incentive to join the A.I.F. when the call for volunteers came. The first transports of newly enlisted men left for Adelaide on 16 August 1914, less than two weeks after war was declared. The second contingent left a week later and it was reported that ‘the troops marched through the streets headed by a band, and were sent away by a large and enthusiastic crowd’ (The Register, Saturday 22 August 1914). By the end of August, 400 volunteers had been accepted from Broken Hill. 4,000 men eventually volunteered from the Broken Hill region during the First World War.