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Sculptures of miners in the Living Desert reserve

Cavities in schists resulting from the weathering effects of salt and rain
A quartz reef used by aboriginal people to collect sharp pieces of quartz for tool making
A part of the Sculpture Site in the Living Desert area
Sculptures of miners in the Living Desert reserve

Broken Hill The Living Desert

Latitude -31.89264, Longitude 141.453411

Located in the Outback Region of NSW, nearest town Broken Hill

Source: and information boards in the Living Desert

Link to Detailed Map

The Living Desert is a unique 2400ha reserve which commenced in 1992. The topography, scenery and views within the reserve are breathtaking and are captured throughout the numerous walking trails. The sculpture exhibition is also located nearby and well worth a look.

Located within the reserve, settled amongst the tranquility of the gullies and rocky outcrops is the 180ha Living Desert Flora and Fauna Sanctuary which is bordered by an electric predator proof fence. The Flora and Fauna Sanctuary will allow visitors to gain an educational and cultural experience to further enhance and understand Aboriginal Heritage and to instill the importance of preservation of the environment for the benefit of future generations.

Of geological interest in the Living Desert Flora and Fauna Sanctuary is a site which demonstrates a unique weathering process. The rocks in the photo on top right are schists of the Willyama Supergroup deposited as clay and sand between 1685 and 1670 million years ago (mya). About 1600 mya they were buried about 20 kilometres, folded intensely and subjected to temperatures of about 750 degrees celsius forming metamorphic minerals.

Sometime later the overlaying rocks were eroded away leaving the schists exposed to the effects of weathering and erosion. The cavities you can see were once thought to be formed by sand blasting, as the wind blew sand grains at the exposed rocks. But modern research suggests that the cavities resulted from the effects of salt and rain. Rain dissolves salts from the soil and the dissolved salts eat away the minerals in the rock. As the rock dries, salts crystallize between mineral grains forcing them apart. Wind erosion probably removed some of the weathered rock.

The cavities formed over hundreds of thousands of years were most likely at the top of the soil. The difference between the cavities and the present soil level might be a measure of soil erosion that has occurred since European settlement.

Other attractions within this area of interest to geological enthusiast and others include a prospector's abandoned mine and a quartz shelf used by aboriginal people to quarry for sharp pieces of quartz to make tools.

Another major attraction within the Living Desert is the Sculpture Site. 12 sandstone sculptures highlight the skyline, all with a story to tell. The Sculpture Site can be accessed via a 1km walking trail starting from the Flora and Fauna Sanctuary car park. There's also a vehicle access to the sculptures.

Getting There

The Living Desert Reserve is nestled amongst the Barrier Ranges and is located 12 kilometres from the City of Broken Hill via Nine Mile Road (Kaolin St in Broken Hill). An entry fee applies per vehicle to access the Living Desert Flora and Fauna sanctuary and the Sculpture Site. This needs to be paid at the pay bay located at the entrance of the Living Desert area. There is also a recreational picnic area with free gas barbeques, shade shelters and toilets. A 2.30 hour visit to the Living Desert from the City (return trip) will allow visitors to explore the Cultural Walk Trail within the Sanctuary and experience the Sculpture Site. Take a hat, sturdy shoes and plenty of water - it can get very hot. Be on the lookout for venomous snakes.

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