Outback NSW Touring
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Overview: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.
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