Here they come
Saturday, 12th September, 2020
By Annette Northey
It’s day one post lock-down for White’s Mineral and Mining Museum, and owner/operators Kevin and Betty White are already seeing tourists pour into the museum, proving that interest in the mining history of Broken Hill is not likely to wane any time soon.
Yesterday, Silver City Tours escorted a busload of 20 tourists into Whitey’s museum, the first tourists to visit the local attraction since Kevin (Bushy) and Betty White closed their doors on March 20.
Mr White said they could have opened earlier, but a scheduled medical procedure would have prevented him from being there to tell the stories about mining in Broken Hill, which is where he sees the value in the tours.
“I’m dedicated to the mining of Broken Hill and once I start talking it just flows on,” he said.
The museum has tour buses booked way in advance, and Mr White believes there is going to be a tourim surge in the Silver City once all the borders open again.
“There’s gonna be a boom. Boom, boom, boom,” he said.
“I believe these next school holidays will be big. The last school holidays (July) were 50% up on the school holidays before that.
“It was all people from NSW because the borders closed. Now, the borders are still closed and people are even more desperate to go somewhere.
“And for the next five years, people are just not going to jump on a plane or a boat and go overseas.”
John Hart from the Pro Hart Gallery totally agrees with Mr White in terms of a tourism surge looming.
“Since we’ve had the lockdown, there was an opening of the border for a very short time from Victoria and we recouped all the income we lost from the March shutdown.
“In fact, we were just completely overrun.
“And what we’re finding now; even though the borders are down again we’ve got increased tourism from NSW, and that’s interesting because we don’t normally get many NSW tourists. Most of the tourism, for us, tends to be from Adelaide and Victoria.
“So we’ve noticed a big uptick in NSW tourism. I think there’s probably a lot of demand there for people who’ve saved up for overseas holidays and are going to spend it locally.
“If we play our cards right, I think this is probably going to be one of the most spectacular years for us.”
Mr Hart said it was crazy stores were closing down in the main street, but art tourism had been incredible.
“I can back up Bushy’s prediction even without figures.”
At one stage, Mr Hart said he saw about a thousand Victorians come through his gallery each week for two weeks.
“A lot of grey nomads, just hoards, hovering around waiting to get up to Queensland.
“But they came through Broken Hill, worked their way up, and the second the Queensland border opened, she was on,” Mr Hart said.
“It was just nuts.”