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Local Characters

Paula Williams and Susanne Olsen, from Broken Hill


An investment property turned into a labour of love, and now an historic guest accommodation in Broken Hill.

In 2012, Paula Williams and Susanne Olsen bought a dilapidated two bedroom miner’s cottage on a residential street of Broken Hill, thinking they would do it up and either resell or rent it out to a long term tenant. What they hadn’t counted on was how they’d fall in love with the place as they peeled away then reinstated the layers of its history.

With the transformation complete and the house newly renamed ‘The Charming Miner’s Cottage’, Paula and Susanne decided against selling, opting instead to offer the property for short and long-term holiday accommodation.

The Charming Miner’s Cottage

“Feedback from our guests indicates people visiting Broken Hill want to tap into the history of the town, and staying in an authentic historic miner’s cottage is a great way of doing that,” Paula said.

Second property

They’ve since invested in a second historic home, which they have also restored and established as an artist’s residence and gallery space.

Paula and Susanne saved money by doing much of the work themselves; from ripping out the kitchen and bathroom to painting the walls. They brought in professionals to do the wiring, plumbing, air conditioning and major structural changes, but where they could get their hands dirty, they did. In order to retain the historic feel of the cottage they sourced windows and doors from demolition sites in Broken Hill, as well as antique furniture and mining curiosities to decorate with.

Inside the Charming Miner's Cottage

"With a bit of creativity it’s amazing how far your money can stretch,” Paula said.

In renovating the Charming Miner’s Cottage the pair discovered it’s a fine line to walk between being true to the heritage of a home and creating a space with 21st Century comforts, like a modern bathroom and functional kitchen. But they have nailed that brief, and even took out the John Reid Memorial Heritage Award in 2016.

John Reid Memorial Heritage Award

“The process of restoring this heritage home has been such a pleasure, particularly the way the history of the house has become apparent,” Susanne said.

Paula and Susanne were contacted by an elderly lady in Adelaide who was born and raised in this house, and booked in to stay. She shared her childhood memories of the house, confirming that indeed her father was a miner. She and her sister shared the front veranda as a sleep-out bedroom and there was a bunker in the backyard to protect them from enemy attack during the war.

“It’s amazing how, through bringing an old house back to its former glory, we have also breathed life into its stories and can now share those with visitors and locals alike. The way the past and the present interact in Broken Hill is really quite special,” Paula said.

Read more about the Charming Miner’s Cottage, and book in to stay on Travel In.

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