Of course there are plenty more than just seven reasons to saddle up and head on out on an adventure around outback NSW, but how can you fit all that beauty in just one little box? Living in Australia, we have access to some of the most wondrous terrain on earth and it’s about time we took advantage of that. Here we look at the outback of NSW, and five essential stops for any trip across that stretch of regional grandeur.
Lightning Ridge is an area famous for its black opal industry, home to the largest open cut opal mine ever worked in NSW. So it’s no surprise that this is the place to be if you want to look into having a tour of mining operations, camps, and castles.
Though the magic at Lightning Ridge is more apparent when the sun goes down. Visitors to the area can soak up under the starry nights in the artesian waters of the Lightning Ridge Bore Baths. The waters are rich in potassium salts, which are therapeutic for tired and aching muscles, giving you one giant, relaxing bath in water piped from a sub artesian basin, 900 metres below the surface. The average temperature during the winter months is 42*C.
Keep following the Silver City Highway and you’ll reach the historic mining city of Broken Hill, an area known as the ‘Silver City’ with heritage at almost every turn. The main strip is Argent Street, with plenty to interest visitors of all tastes, but the real magic requires a bit more digging.
There’s a guided tour of the Day Dream Mine, uncovering the harsh conditions of the bygone mining era. Though if that’s a bit too claustrophobic for you, there’s also a nice tour around the Silver City Mint & Art Centre, home to the largest acrylic painting on canvas. The centre smelts, casts and manufactures silver jewelry, allowing you to take home your own treasures.
The original ‘Priscilla Bus’ from Aussie classic Priscilla Queen of the Dessert has finally made it’s way home to Broken Hill for 2015. Word has that the bus will be standing proud for the public sometime this year.
Unique accommodation is wide spread here, but perhaps the most famous is Holiday Cottage, where guests can rest their head where miners once did. The atmosphere here is a preserved pocket of time, taking guests back to a gentler time and lifestyle of pioneer women in long skirts, hardworking mining men, and grubby small children playing marbles in the dust on the veranda. Guests might even encounter a ghost family given the historical reports of people waking up in the night to find the spectre of an old miner and his wife smiling at them and a room lined with old weatherboards, not the pretty wall paper that is there now.
Warrawong and Wilcannia
The Famed Darling River
Located on the famed Darling, just off the Barrier Highway, and 200km from Broken Hill, is the beautiful area of Warrawong. In addition to being an outstanding facility for campers, Warrawong on the Darling has 1700 acres of working farm land and endless natural, secluded camp sites on the river or lagoon. You won’t find many better places to set up a private camp by the famed Darling.
The best way to experience this unique property is a personal tour with Indigenous artist Eddy Harris. Eddy will show you the river and red gums, followed by an aboriginal tour of the cooking sites, stone tools and bush foods. The tour will conclude at an art gallery on site, displaying Eddy’s art and an explanation of how it connects back to the scenery of the land and the property.
Close by is the town of Wilcannia, which was Australia’s third largest inland port town in the 1890s. Its legacy is apparent today on streets lined with historic architecture, best enjoyed by walking the town’s heritage trail.
Rustic drinking hole, The Tilpa Hotel
After your visit to Wilcannia, travel 130km north where you will find the red dirt highlights of Tilpa. It’s a small outback community where you can stop for a tipple in an infamous pub made entirely from corrugated iron and covered with graffiti, demonstrating the dry wit of the bush. You can make your own mark on the Tilpa Hotel’s walls for the price of a donation to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
White Cliffs is a very unique opal-mining town 98k from Wilcannia, where you can walk on the bizarre moonscape-like landscape that has been created due to thousands of hillocks of earth dug and discarded in the quest for opals.
Much of this town is underground, including motels, bars, and shops so there’s that feeling like you’re at the last frontier of the outback as you encounter the miners who work and live the underground, before you settle in for the night in the White Cliff’s underground motel or station accommodation and listen to locals tell stories of wealth won and lost.
White Cliffs also host a music festival in May with a mix of local and visiting performers. More information HERE
Paroo-Darling National Park
Sights at Paroo-Darling National Park
At the Paroo-Darling National Park, you’ll find the Paroo Overflow, an area of outstanding conservation and natural beauty. You can paddle or walk around Perry Lake, camp, swim and fish at the Coach and Horse campground in the Wilga section of the park and take a picnic at one of the numerous scenic and informal picnic spots. With its frequent floods, this area is also the traditional home to the Ngiyeempaa and Paakantyi people and since European settlement has been an important pastoral area with a rich history.
Silverton: Mad Max Museum
The Mad Max Museum in Silverton, was created by a now local man, Adrian Bennett, who moved halfway around the world to live his dream of owning and operating a museum dedicated to the film Mad Max 2. The museum was opened in 2010 and was a collaboration between Adrian and the people of this ‘Mad Max country’ who donated items from personal collections. The museum tells the story of, and behind, the film with large collections of photographs, life size characters in full costumes, original and replica vehicles including two Interceptor’s one of which was built by Adrian himself and offers an amazing array of souvenirs.