As a young boy, Kevin White was constantly going walkabout, hunting rabbits or chasing kangaroos out into the scrub, to the point where the question; “Where’s Kevin?” would almost always be answered with; “He’s out bush!”
So began the nickname “Bushy”, which Kevin preferred all the way to the end. Today, Broken Hill is mourning him.
“I am deeply saddened at the news of Kevin ‘Bushy’ White’s passing,” said Broken Hill Mayor, Darriea Turley.
Born in Broken Hill in 1943, Bushy lost his father when he was just 18 months old and grew up with four other siblings.
Times were tough, and full schooling was uneconomical for the White family, so Bushy joined the workforce at a young age; first at the old Ice and Produce store, then Frear’s wood yard, followed by a three-year stint on a property at Robinvale – his first and last experience of living away from Broken Hill.
From the age 17, Bushy never called anything but Broken Hill “home”.
He married and had three children, but so much of his life was spent underground, beetling through the Zinc Mine for 26 years until, at the age of 49, he was retrenched.
“In the end,” Bushy told Barrier Truth in 2013, “working with men you trusted your life with was good and character-building, to say the least.”
More recently, reflecting on his underground years to a reporter from ABC Radio National, Bushy spoke about “a certain claustrophobic feeling” one can get toward the end of one’s career in the mines.
“And when you get that claustrophobic feeling,” he said, “get out.”
After escaping the perils of underground work, Bushy began to concentrate on his art – works constructed from minerals – and turned his vast collection of mining artifacts into White’s Mineral Art and Living Mining Museum, which, alongside his wife Betty’s Doll Museum, remains one of the more interesting galleries in Broken Hill.
“He made a significant cultural contribution to our community through his unique museum, his own mining artwork, and his preservation of historic mining artefacts,” said Mayor Turley.
“And who could forget the amazing Christmas displays that brought a smile to so many kids’ faces over the years.
“His love for our mining heritage was unrivalled, and his 26 years working on the mines ensured that all visitors to his museum received a unique and authentic insight into our mining history.
“Bushy’s passion and enthusiasm for mining, Broken Hill, and its people, will never be forgotten.”
Kevin Bushy White leaves behind a wife, three children, a squadron of grandkids and an uncountable number of friends and admirers – sad today, but greater for the life he shared with them.
IMAGE: Broken Hill icon Kevin “Bushy” White will be well remembered and dearly missed. PICTURE: BDT Archives
This article was first published on Wednesday, 22 September 2021.