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Greening of the Silver City - Broken Hill

This design, pictured above, by Robin Sinclair,  is still being finalised. Another design by Cathy Davies had been previously submitted and Ro Morrow, a permaculture expert - see her article below about Albert Morris -  has been consulted. The final design will be posted here when it is ready. 

In the 1930s Broken Hill had become a town overwhelmed by dust storms. In the development of the mine and the town itself almost all the native vegetation had been cleared, leaving no protection from the frequent dust storms which swept in from the north and west. In places the dust was piled more than a metre deep against walls and houses. 

Albert Morris was employed by the Broken Hill Company as a metallurgist but he and his wife Margaret were keen amateur botanists. At weekends they explored the surrounding countryside and got to know and identify most of the plants and trees that grew there. In this, Albert had been helped by his conversations with Edwin Ashby in Adelaide. (See The Ashby Family panel.) Margaret was from a Quaker family and Albert also became a member of the Society of Friends, and it was through this that they made the connection with Edwin Ashby.

Broken Hill township was surrounded by an unfenced area of common land, bare and largely unused except for grazing animals. Albert put forward a plan to fence this area and to plant it with vegetation native to the area, which he knew to be hardy, drought tolerant and which would respond quickly to rain. This should help to mitigate the dust problem.  BHP agreed to fence a trial area and Albert and Margaret and some keen locals took care of the plantings. The trial was a success and more areas were fenced and planted. A call was put out for people to save jam-tins for planting seedlings and the response was overwhelming.  School children were enlisted to help grow and plant. Margaret was a moving force in the effort and she continued the work after Albert’s death. The successful experiment, one of the earliest known ecological regeneration projects in the world, became a model which has been used in other parts of Australia and elsewhere.

The green belt has been extended over the years to surround the whole city. The Morrises are remembered with great respect and affection by the people of Broken Hill.  In the main street there is a memorial to Albert, a fountain, with a plaque bearing the words, “Nature’s Friend.”

Pictured panel designed by Robin Sinclair.

Another design by Cathy Davies, Jonathon Cooper, Frances Love and others. Taija Sabine Love, her grand daughter.