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The outback, the iconic Australian destination that we all identify with in some way, but to the uninitiated, it is a destination only for the brave and those with a fully equipped off-road vehicle. But that is not the entire story as much of the outback can be experienced with a modern SUV; in fact, much can also be explored in a conventional passenger vehicle.

The ‘Outback Intro’ touring route is perfect for those who want to experience the outback and not need to venture too far into the ‘never-never’.

This touring route can be started/finished at any point, but for illustrative purposes, Dubbo is the starting point.
With its zoo (part of Sydney’s Taronga Zoo), Dubbo is a must see town with all the amenities of a large city but with a distinctive country-town feel. So with so much to see and do in Dubbo, it is worth a couple of nights.

About 175km to the north of Dubbo is Pilliga forest in the foothills of the Warrumbungle mountain range and the very interesting attraction of Barkala Farm, a working farm that is also home to the largest and most unique pottery in NSW, Pilliga Pottery.

From the Pilliga, the next destination is the very iconic, and wonderfully eccentric town of Lightning Ridge, home of the Black Opal.

It is such an endearing destination that many people who visit for a few days, end up staying a life time.

From the Ridge, it is time to head over to Brewarrina, location of the ancient fish-traps and a very informative indigenous visitor centre, both of which are well worth experiencing. From Brewarrina, Bourke is the next destination; the iconic town on the Darling River.

For the run back to Dubbo, along the Mitchell Highway, a stopover in Nyngan is well worth it.

Route Sections:

Dubbo <> Pilliga:

  • Route: Newell Highway <> Oxley Highway (163 km - about 2.5 hours) - Mostly Sealed

Leaving Dubbo it is a scenic drive towards Coonabarabran and on to Barkala Farm which is 35km from Coonabarabran (including 10km dirt road).

Pilliga <> Lightning Ridge:

  • Route: Oxley Highway <> Castlereagh Highway <> Gwydir Highway (350 km - about 4.5 hours) - Sealed

After a day or two soaking up the creative ambience of Barkala Farm and Pilliga Pottery, the touring route heads north to Lightning Ridge - the 'must-see' iconic opal town.

Lightning Ridge <> Bourke:

Route: Cumborah-Lightning Ridge Rd <> Narran Lake Rd <> Kamilaroi Highway (180km - about 3 hours) - Mostly Unsealed

The route from Lightning Ridge to Bourke is via Cumborah and Narren Lake (Unsealed roads) but if you prefer, there is a sealed route back via Walgett, then heading west to Brewarrina and onto Bourke.

The unsealed route gives the option of going via The Grawin (another opal field near Lightning Ridge - ask at the Ridge Visitor Information Centre for details) and into Brewarrina past Narren Lake. Allow some time to stop at the 'Fish Traps' and Visitor Centre at Brewarrina before continuing along the Kamilaroi to Bourke.

Bourke <> Nyngan:

Route: Mitchell Highway (210km - about 2.5 hours) - Sealed

With only a short drive the next destination, grab the morning to further experience the sights and sounds of life on the Darling at Bourke before heading off down the highway to Nyngan.

Nyngan <> Dubbo:

Route: Mitchell Highway (165km - about 2 hours) - Sealed

While on the face of it, Nyngan appears to be just a small service centre, but scratch the surface a bit and there are some interesting things to see and experience.

Bourke Weather Outlook


Outback Intro: Accommodation

As well as being a working farm, it is also home to the fabulous creative energy of Pilliga Pottery, the largest and most unique pottery in NSW. Staying here is like stepping into another world, with its fascinating European-inspired eco-architecture, gorgeous natural surrounds of farmland, bushland, craggy ridges and living forest
Coonabarabran Accommodation
Beancounters House offers affordable luxury in Nyngan - your gateway to the outback. A family business, Beancounters House reuses the historic Bank of NSW building in the heart of Nyngan. It combines heritage charm with contemporary design and modern facilities. For stopovers or long term stays, Beancounters is a slice of contemporary comfort in the outback.
Nyngan Accommodation
Fossickers Cottages, the perfect place to stay, relax and experience Lightning Ridge first hand. Meet locals who are passionate about their town and black opal - the stunning gemstone that is mined from the depths of what was once a great inland sea.
Lightning Ridge Accommodation
Relish the tranquillity and comfort of your Walls Court suite as you laze on the veranda observing the birds in the garden. Children have fun feeding chooks, gathering eggs and patting dogs. Gain more from your visit to the zoo; we are volunteer guides.
Dubbo Accommodation

Outback Intro: Towns & Locations

It is not hard to agree with famous Australian poet Henry Lawson when he wrote,
Towns & Localities
Coonabarabran is a place of many contrasts where the landscape and villages create a patchwork across the countryside, reflecting the varied lifestyles and influences.
Towns & Localities
Dubbo sits in the fertile Macquarie Valley, where the Newell, Mitchell and Golden highways meet, five hours' drive from Sydney, it is a destination that combines a rich pastoral history with great food and wine, expansive parklands, museums, galleries, arts and crafts, and the famous Taronga Western Plains Zoo, making this part of Country NSW ideal for a family holiday.
Towns & Localities
Most would agree, that any travel through Outback NSW should include a few days at Lightning Ridge. Home of the unique Black Opal and like the precious stone it is famous for, the 'Ridge' will show its varying colors depending on how you look at it.
Towns & Localities
Thomas Mitchel, the famous Australian Explorer, camped at the present-day site of Nyngan in 1835, but it wasn’t until nearly fifty years later that the town was surveyed; its history is evident by the wonderful architecture of many of the old buildings.
Towns & Localities
Wilcannia, on the Barrier Highway between Cobar and Broken Hill, is largely undisturbed port on the Darling River. Cross the bridge driving from Sydney to Broken Hill and turn either to your right or left when you enter the town and you will be amazed at the richness of the architecture.
Towns & Localities


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