Broken Hill Rocks and it’s nothing to do with Geology

An exciting new book set to be published by the Broken Hill Book Company promises to document the golden era of Rock and Roll in the Silver City.

“It’s called Broken Hill Rocks — and it has nothing to do with geology,” Broken Hill Book Company owner Robert Williamson told us with a smile.

The book is being authored by former Marmalades band member Mark Kersten. Mark is an ex-deputy Mayor of Broken Hill and an ex-National party member as well, so safe to say his roots are well and truly planted right here.

Mark’s initial idea for the book was to capture the unique vibe and sound that was part of our city’s fabric during the 1960s and 70s. The isolation of Broken Hill certainly contributed to that unique sound.

“There were still dirt roads leading to Broken Hill, believe it or not, then,” Mark says.

The isolation meant bands in Broken Hill didn’t have the latest sounds easily accessible, which attributed to the distinctive, unique local sound.

“It wasn’t like you could slip down to a disco or anything like that, like you could in the city.”

“There were lots and lots of bands of exceptional quality in the ‘60s and ‘70s,” says Mark, adding, “The Urchins were sensational.”

It is because of bands like The Urchins, and his own band Marmalade, amongst many others, that Mark has taken this task on.

The Marmalades formed in 1967 and saw Mark Kersten and John Falci playing guitar, Paul Woodman on the drums, and Maurice Quinn (aka Mokka) as lead singer.

They won the local battle of the bands and came fourth in the South Australian battle of the bands.

When we probed Mark about whether they had ‘borrowed the name’ from the UK band of the almost same name, Mark was adamant, “We had the name first.”

The Marmalades did have to change their name during one edition of the SA battle of the bands – to avoid being confused with the UK band Marmalade – to Mouse Trap.

“It’d be such a shame if that period of Broken Hill’s history is lost, because once it is gone, it is gone forever.”

It is a project very close to his heart and he’s determined the book be not only a fun read, but a historical document as well, which happens to fit perfectly with Broken Hill Book Company’s core values.

Mark’s labour of love began when he reached out to people he knew in the industry many years ago and once that avenue was exhausted, he turned to social media where the response was overwhelming.

“I did some advertising on Facebook and got a tremendous response from guys that used to be in bands who wanted to tell their story.”

So great was the response, Mark had to rethink sticking to bands from the 1960s and 70s.

“I got such a response from all sorts of bands from all sorts of time periods that I just put them all in,” Mark says.

“I had more bands contacting me just this morning.”

The project is one Robert Williamson, Broken Hill Book Company’s owner, is very proud of. And one that couldn’t have been done without his help.

“Robert’s been a terrific help and I am very grateful to him,” says Mark.

If you or someone you know was in a local band, have a story to share, or have any pictures you think might be of use to Mark, contact the Broken Hill Book Company here and they will put you in touch with him.

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