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Originally inhabited by the Wiljakali Aboriginal people, the far western New South Wales town of Silverton was settled following the discovery of rich silver deposits in 1875. Originally known as 'Umberumberka' after the areas first mine claim, Silverton would be officially renamed in 1883 when its Post Office was established.
The successes of local mines saw the population swell to 3000 by the late 1800s with a thriving village centre emerging as local entrepreneurs opened up businesses to cater for the local community. At its peak the town hosted a football club, its own newspaper, a hospital and a church yet as local silver deposits were exhausted coupled with the discoveries of silver, zinc and lead deposits in far greater quantities in Broken Hill, Silverton went into decline.
As the first mining community in the state's far west, the town's impact on the local mining industry would be far reaching. The Trade Union movement is said to have originated in the Silverton mining community in 1884 through the Amalgamated Miners' Association of Australasia and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited now known as BHP Billiton was formed in the Silverton Hotel in 1885. So swift was the decline of the town that by the turn of the century Silverton's local council had been abolished and the town and surrounding lands were taken over by the State Government with many of its key buildings transported east to be relocated in Broken Hill.
With a permanent population of less than 60 Silverton is today something of a ghost town with mines abandoned and only minor pastoral uses of the surrounding semi-arid landscape. With many of its surviving colonial era buildings standing unused along Silverton's main street, this town has survived due to tourism and the appeal of the surrounding desert landscapes attracting a committed community of locally based artists and those who regularly visit the area. The area's arresting landscape has also seen the town used as the backdrop for film and television with the town perhaps most famously used for the filming of George Miller's apocalyptic desert epic film 'Mad Max'.