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Save up to $2100 – or 50% – Book by July 31, 2018
Solo supplement of only 4%

Get off-the-beaten-track with this special offer from Tri-State Safaris on its new Simpson Desert Adventure tour, combining camping under star-lit skies with the thrill of exploring the vast wilderness of Australia’s most iconic desert by 4WD.

Savings of up to $2100 and a solo supplement of just four per cent are now being offered for bookings made by July 31, 2018.

The 12-day adventure will take guests across the rugged outback landscape, with travellers able to ride in custom-designed, air-conditioned 4WD vehicles or bring their own 4WD vehicles on the tour.

The ‘Simpson Desert Adventure’ tour will depart from Tri State Safari’s base in Broken Hill in far west NSW on August 13, 2018. The tour is a round-trip, outback journey across three states – NSW, QLD and SA. At more than half the size of Victoria and with the longest parallel sand dunes in the world, the Simpson Desert stretches for 170,000 square kilometres and Tri-State Safaris take guests to all the hidden gems scattered throughout the vast landscape.

Highlights of the tour include:

* the vast, salty expanse of Lake Eyre – the lowest point in Australia
* a stay in an underground motel at the Opal mining town of Cooper Pedy
* Visit the point where NSW, QLD and SA meet at Poepell Corner and Cameron’s Corner
* Take in the view from the top of the 40m-high ‘Big Red’ sand dune – the largest in the Simpson
* Visits to outback bores and memorable, middle-of-nowhere desert camps with campfire dinners under the stars.

If booked by July 31, 2018 the 12-day Simpson Desert tour departing on August 13, 2018, is available from:

* $7277 twin-share in fully equipped Tri State Safari 4WD vehicles – a saving of $383 per person or $766 per couple
* $7595 solo in fully equipped Tri State Safari 4WD vehicles – a saving of $400
* $4200 for 4WD enthusiasts keen to bring their own ‘tag-along’ vehicle (for the first person). $2100 for the second person on a ‘tag-along’ booking – a saving of 50 per cent

Fares includes accommodation and meals.

Tri State Safaris is owned by Out of the Ordinary Outback, an expanding tourism business in far west NSW which also owns seven properties- The Alma Hotel and Argent Motel in Broken Hill, Warrawong on the Darling tourist camp and cabins at Wilcannia, the famous White Cliffs Underground Motel, Cobar’s Copper City Motel, the Ivanhoe Hotel and the soon-to-open Broken Hill Outback Resort. Out of the Ordinary Outback’s own visitor centre also operates in Broken Hill.

Visit or call 1300 688 225.


There is a buzz of excitement, as Tri State Safaris’ annual 12 Day Simpson Desert Adventure begins this week

Breath-taking expanses of red sand dunes, rise and fall beneath brilliant blue skies, stretching as far as the eye can see. The silence is deafening, disturbed only by gentle gusts of wind through saltbush, and scuffling of distant bird or wildlife. Besides the company you keep, there is no sign of human life.

If Broken Hill is where adventure begins, this is where true adventure arrives.

Adventure is what seven of our avid explorers will find over the coming weeks, as they prepare to depart on our annual 12 Day Simpson Desert Adventure. Led by our experienced, talented and passionate 4WD enthusiast Dave, our group will discover the remote townships and isolated communities, traverse gibber plains, jump-ups and red sand dunes as tall as 30 metres. Our group will explore iconic destinations such as Birdsville, Tibooburra and Rawnsley Park as the travel through the Flinders Ranges and Strzelecki, Oodnadatta and Birdsville Tracks.

There will be plenty of opportunities for the group to experience the outback first hand. They’ll swim in the Dalhousie hot springs, touch the Corner Post, enjoy a slice of camel pie and camp beneath Australia’s million-star sky.

Most of all, they’ll look forward to the late night stories around the camp fire, enjoying a glass of red, sharing stories and wondering what lies over the next sand dune.

We consider this journey to be emotional and awe-inspiring and are confident you will too!

See what lies ahead for our excited travellers, by reading our full tour itinerary.


The White Cliffs Music Festival releases its three day program, jam-packed with award-winning artists and events with guest performances at the Underground Motel

The White Cliffs Music Festival is just around the corner. Country music lovers, from all over Australia will travel to the quaint and quirky outback community this month, for one of the biggest outback music events of the year.

The event will feature a line-up of award-winning artists, including Golden Guitar winner Victoria Baillie and sister Barb Baillie as Baylou. Multi-award winning artists Royden Donohue and Nick Charles have also been confirmed.

Guests staying at the White Cliffs Underground Motel will be in for an extra special treat, as two acts have been confirmed to perform at the iconic underground accommodation venue. Both Euripi and Sympatico have amassed a solid fan base across Australia for their musical works, and certainly not to be missed. The performances will be open to the general public with tickets priced at $5.

A variety of musical styles will be celebrated throughout the three days, with country, bluegrass and folk music featuring prominently. Festival-goers will also have the opportunity to meet some of Country music’s big stars, and learn how to write and produce their own music and poetry in a variety of workshops. Poetry and yarn-telling will also feature in the festival.

A full program of performances, workshops and events can be found on the White Cliffs Music Festival website: White Cliffs Music Festival Program

Guests staying at the White Cliffs Underground Motel will be in for an extra special treat, as two acts have been confirmed to perform at the iconic underground accommodation venue. Both Euripi and Sympatico have amassed a solid fan base across Australia for their musical works, and certainly not to be missed. The performances will be open to patrons spending the night as well as to those dining in the restaurant.

Rooms at the White Cliffs Underground Motel are still available, but are running out quickly. Book now at the White Cliffs Underground Motel to avoid disappointment.

Euripi: A brief biography

Euripi is a Mudgee based, original, folk and cover duo, composed of husband and wife team, Glenn and Emily Van Reason. Although coming from different musical backgrounds in Classical and Music Theatre and Aussie Rock, they share a love of an eclectic range of music which transverses many genres.

Euripi draw inspiration for their unique style and harmonies from the musical artists they admire, particularly singer/songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Paul Kelly, Rodriguez, Debra Conway and Damien Rice. They can be found performing through out the Central West at pubs, clubs, weddings and functions, markets and festivals.

When not performing Glenn and Emily are busy raising their four children on the family farm, growing organic vegetables and fruit and tending to their increasing menagerie of animals.

Sympatico: A brief biography

Fiddle, mando, slide guitar, tenor banjo, guitars and vocals blend into an extraordinary Sympatico of musical energy. Sally Carter is a singer/songwriter who plays violin/fiddle, guitar, mandolin and piano. Sally is a New Zealand Australian who indulges in her love of music with joy and gusto . She got her first fiddle when she was 11 years old, but only after she was told that she had to learn the mandolin first, as it had the same fingering. After 6 months, Sally had the basics down, so Santa was obliged to give her a fiddle…Upon hearing some beautiful classical piano music being played one day Sally became entranced with all the possibilities that she felt the piano had to offer and Sally went on to study classical piano.

Sally is a prolific song-writer and loves to tell a story, pull at the heart-strings, or simply pen a good song. Her first jam session with Evan was a “test’ to see how well he could improvise, as Sally needed a duo partner………playing only her originals, Sally was delighted to see just what Evan could do on dobro and mandolin. Evan passed with flying colours, and so Sympatico was born. Sympatico…the blending of like-minded souls to create wonderful music! Evan Webb is a (reluctant) singer and multi-instrumentalist – guitar, bass, mandolin, dobro, harmonica, tenor banjo, uke and piano

Together with Roy Carter and Keith Rea, Evan started Mamas Mountain Jug Band, playing mainly dobro and mandolin. “Mamas” are still together 16 years later. Evan eventually bought a double bass and played with Faux Grass, The High Times String Band, The Chestnut Street Orchestra, Appalachian Heaven and the Johnny Cash Tribute Show. Sally saw Evan accompany a performer at the folk club on mandolin and dobro. A short time later, after an audition (supposedly a “jam”) she suggested forming a duo – thus Sympatico came into existence. At about the same time, Sally joined “Mamas”, much to everyone’s delight. Evan is both surprised and thrilled to be Sally’s musical partner in not just one, but two great lineups.


To journey into the HEART OF OUTBACK New South Wales is to FIND THE AUSTRALIA depicted in movies; a MOON-LIKE landscape, home to OUTBACK chancers and ANCIENT STORIES.

Article as it appears in Australian Traveller. Written by Jac Taylor

RISSOLE THE EMU IS MOTIONLESS, looking me dead in the eye. At this close range, it’s clear she’s either sizing me up for fighting, feeding or mating, and the cerulean shade painting her neck in a dirty watercolour makes me surmise she’s showing her breeding colours. Rissole, I’m thinking, is ready for love.

She punctuates the silence with the oddest sound I’ve ever heard issued from a living thing – a kind of booming poonk from the depths of her throat that makes me alert, slightly alarmed and not at all able to take her seriously.

Leaving Rissole to send her poonks into the air to be heard by bachelors up to two kilometres in each direction, I hear the exact same sound from an even less expected source. Eddy Harris is the resident artist at Warrawong on the Darling, here on the breezy billabong outside of Wilcannia in outback New South Wales, and his place as part of the Bakandji (river people) mob means he can not only recognise the emu’s call but can recreate it with a squat, decorated section of tree trunk that I mistook for a short didgeridoo. He thumps it and it thumps back with a poonk. We’re indoors, alongside the hotel reception in the gallery colourfully filled with Eddy’s detailed, soulful art creations, and I hope the sound doesn’t escape to give Rissole the wrong idea.

As Eddy starts recounting quiet tales of the area, I feel like I have the wrong idea about Wilcannia. But I know what I see: once the country’s third busiest port, the stately architecture and wide streets hint at Wilcannia’s mercantile past. However, now those wide streets are entirely empty of humankind, the supermarket boarded up, and the Darling River stolen to a trickle by upstream farming concerns. Population 600, it is a question mark of a town, intriguing and worrying in equal measure, perched upon the precipice of a rich past and an unmaintainable present. I see a ghost town in the making.

But with Eddy’s help, I also see a country thick with tradition and story, for anyone willing and able to take the time to go for a walkabout. This countryside’s songlines have massive breaks in them, so the young people’s framework for traditional learning sits on shaky foundations, but Eddy and his elder contemporaries are repairing the bonds, restoring pride in country. They take them into the forest and teach them how to tell their story through art, to provide the catharsis that Eddy himself experiences with every single artwork.

“I get feelings out there, out in country,” he confides, gesturing beyond the bird-swooped billabong. “Sometimes too many – I have to do something with them, to look after myself. So I make art.” It’s all gazetted in paint: bird tracks in flood season, the landscape’s colour and the many dreamings that speak for the land.


North of Wilcannia, the red earth turns a rocky white. The gibber plains (small rocks and pebbles) spelt the end for Burke and Wills’s camels, unable as they were to navigate the purplish shining stones surrounding the town of White Cliffs; but those who followed had dollar signs in their eyes. Ever since roo shooters stumbled across a precious white opal here, a tight community of dreamers has called this desolate town home, with an estimated two-thirds of the 100 or so residents living underground to escape the lunar-level extremes.

“I don’t know why I stayed,” says resident Cree Marshall, among the white-washed tunnels of her unexpectedly luxurious underground home. “You either love it or you hate it here, but there’s just something about the land that’s so powerful. It just lets you be what you want to be.” She welcomes visitors into her home for $10 a pop, and it’s worth it. Her artistic streak is apparent in a giant angel on the wall, made from a sewing machine table and a box-worth of Thai leather belts; in emu eggs lined up, bleached from the sun to form a modish pattern; and in the mosaic floors, which somehow manage to follow the curving, labyrinthine walls. She and her handy-as-hell partner Lindsay White began to convert this erstwhile mine into a home about nine years ago. Its mining past means a few dead ends here and there, but it’s certainly one of a kind.

The Underground Motel in town offers a first-hand experience of living in the white tunnels under White Cliffs, with a long staircase to take you topside to drink in the slow desert sunset from atop the earthen motel mound – the ‘rooftop’, if you will. A swimming pool and underground bar complete the good-life vibe, but there’s no escaping the true nature of the town down the road the next morning.

The Blocks are the current major diggings being worked by ambitious miners looking for the Big Find; pits and mounds scar the surreal landscape like the burrows of a hundred giant meerkats. Overlooking it all is the entrance to the mine belonging to White Cliffs success story Graeme Dowton, whose sandy-haired charm hides either a steely will or a deadset addiction to the digging game – or both. Either way, visitors can explore his mine with him and even rummage through the opal chips on the ground, then see his famous white opal ‘pineapples’ back at his headquarters at Red Earth Opal. These huge chunks of opal number less than 200 in the world and can fetch up to US$70,000 from collectors, which explains Graeme’s rather happy demeanour. Down in the mine, he waves his hand vaguely toward a small dead-end passage still being worked on. “This little section is worth about six or seven hundred thousand to me,” he says in passing. This is a man who’s struck it rich in one of the toughest opal fields to work in the world, and there’s a genuine kick in bearing witness.


Mutawintji National Park, further along from White Cliffs and a veritable oasis protected by both green-tinged hills and the determination of the local Aboriginal land council, shines a somewhat different light on mining.

In one Bakandji dreaming, my guide Mark Sutton tells me, the people were turned into veins of silver and lead by divine force, “which explains our unease with it all. It’s like disinterring our very ancestors. But we’ve had to put up with mining almost since white people came here.”

It’s a privilege to walk the land here with Mark. The open, wave-like caves fringing the valley shelter some mind-blowing history, and they’re not for the casual visitor – you need to be brought here by an accredited local guide. The pay-off is rich: cave after swirling rock cave, acting as billboards to display the story of people who’ve passed by. Full armprints from elders, or simple handprints from the younger ones, just initiated. A somewhat cluelessly blue one from William Wright brings to mind the stories about him – that his refusal to meet Burke (as in, Burke and Wills) at the appointed location, due to non-payment, spelt ultimate disaster for the famous expedition and death for Burke and his men.

Up on a jagged, impressive hillside, all that modern history seems like ridiculous bickering. These carvings were tattooed into the shining, fragile rock face perhaps as early as 5000BC. An ancient, carved emu bends its head, forever surveying the cypress pine and mulga of the valley below, and the vertigo hits me, of not only our precarious perch on the hill but our much more precarious perch in the vastness of time. What a wonderful way to feel very, very small.


Two hours away is Broken Hill. It is metal and boots and a reputation for dust from the rampant mining that built the city, though the dust has settled, thanks to a bush regeneration zone ringing the district that has cleared the air. In bathrooms and on local TV, you’ll encounter reminders to mop the floors and wash your hands, to keep the lead dust from coming home each day. The transcontinental train line shines beside the giant slag heap; the grey heap, in turn, is a stone’s throw from the gay colour, in every sense of it, found within the Palace Hotel. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert filmed here, and left an indelible trail of pink feathers behind it; gruff miners sink a few cold ones among sequins and frescoes, and it all somehow makes sense in a place like Broken Hill.

Out of town, a small mob of emus splashing in a precious puddle guards the Living Desert and Sculptures park; I still go out of my mind with excitement at seeing emus in the wild, always a dream of mine before this trip. The sculpture park makes sense in Broken Hill too: the majestic curves of the artworks crowning the hill herald a deep love of creativity that is as much a part of the city as the red earth and sparse, flower-dotted scrub stretching across the plains beyond the park’s lookout is.

One of the emus keeps pace with the 4WD bus as we head away, as if to coax us into staying a little longer, but we’re picking up speed on a road that seems to have as many dips as a good-sized cocktail party. Because Queen Elizabeth herself graced these parts on her 1954 tour of Australia, the road out to the famous old mining ghost town of Silverton was hurriedly paved – and it seems like they missed a few spots. The dusty roads of Silverton are now mostly walked by itinerant donkeys and mowed down by the fat tyres of Mad Max 2 fans who’ve come to see the locations filmed back in 1981. So no one’s complaining.

Head out from Broken Hill on a different road, though, and gigantic water-supply pipes trace a straight line to a wonderland of green and blue, a landscape transformed in a matter of moments: the Menindee Lakes. Holding more than three times Sydney Harbour at their peak, the massive waterways wind their way through impossibly green grass with nary a blade of it pressed by a footprint; the main population is in the trees and the sky, with thousands of birds insouciantly watching our progress by boat. Squadrons of pelicans lazily take wing, Nankeen herons vainly pose and Jesus Christ birds seemingly run across the water as they take off – hence the name. And even here, the emus are resident. Three of them, distant but clear in this crystalline environment, narrow their eyes at me and take off running along the bank, outpacing the boat, and the thrill in seeing them hasn’t worn off. Much like the hillside carving back at Mutawintji, they’re more a part of this place than I’ll ever be, but I’m good with that. It won’t stop me coming back. Not in a million years.


Twenty-four King Spa Cabins available soon – bookings now open

Out of the Ordinary Outback’s new multi-million dollar accommodation venue is preparing to open its second stage of development.

From August, travellers visiting the Broken Hill Outback Resort will be able to choose between caravan and camp sites or one of the venue’s new King Spa Cabins.

To celebrate the opening of this new outback destination the Broken Hill Outback Resort has a great introductory promotion.

Book three nights at the Broken Hill Outback Resort for Camping, Caravan sites or Cabins and receive a fourth night free of charge.

All new visitors can join the celebration with a complimentary Welcome Park, including tote bag, goodies and meal vouchers. Cabin patrons will also receive a complimentary bottle of wine.

Based on the skirts of Australia’s first heritage-listed city of Broken Hill, the Broken Hill Outback Resort has the design of an iconic destination in the making. Featuring stunning landscaped grounds and set against the rise and fall of gibber plains dotted with mulga and saltbush, it doesn’t get more ‘outback’ than this. Add the occasional visiting kangaroo or emu, million-star views and the serenity of pin-drop silence and visitors can be assured a real Australian experience complete with true relaxation.

The next stage of the development will be released later in 2018, with the promise of a restaurant on premise. Stay tuned for opening dates!

To book your stay and make the most of this promotional offer visit the Broken Hill Outback Resort website or call the Broken Hill Outback Resort on 1300 OUTBAK


News, Specials
Save 10 per cent, or more than $800 per couple.
Book by June 4, 2018, before seats dry up

The stunning, white, salt-encrusted lake edge and red sand dunes reflected in the water of Lake Eyre is something few people are lucky enough to witness.

But this year, heavier-than-normal rain in Queensland means guests have the opportunity to see a natural spectacle that occurs only every three years or so. While the area is spectacular even without water, when the rains start filling the largest salt water lake in the country, the landscape is transformed.

And best of all, book before June 4 and receive an early-bird discount off a trip that not only includes a flight over Lake Eyre – one of this country’s great natural wonders – but also takes adventurers to outback destinations such as Wilpena Pound, Cameron Corner and Tibooburra, just to name a few photo-worthy opportunities.

Couples can save more than $800 on new, five-day trips departing on May 29, June 19, July 3, July 17 and August 21 this year, offered by outback tourism company, Tri State Safaris.

Highlights of the trip include flying over the vast, salty expanse of Lake Eyre – the lowest point in Australia and home to breathtaking flocks of migratory birds, exploring the rugged bowl of Wilpena Pound, marvelling at the magnificent cliffs and gorges of the Flinders Ranges, and experiencing the true meaning of ‘remote’ at Tibooburra, NSW’s most-far-flung town.

If booked by June 4, the five-day Lake Eyre Tour is available from:
Twin share: $3735 per person (save $415 per person or $830 per couple)
Solo: $4018 (save $447)
Seniors: $3547 per person twin share (save $395) or $3817 solo (save $425).

Fares include four nights’ accommodation, meals, guided sightseeing and travel in a comfortable, air-conditioned, fully kitted 4WD vehicle.

Don’t miss this opportunity to see the largest lake in Australia undergo a rare and sensational metamorphosis.

Tri State Safaris is owned by Out of the Ordinary Outback, an expanding tourism business in far west NSW which also owns seven properties- The Alma Hotel and Argent Motel in Broken Hill, Warrawong on the Darling tourist camp and cabins at Wilcannia, the famous White Cliffs Underground Motel, Cobar’s Copper City Motel, the Ivanhoe Hotel and the soon-to-open Broken Hill Outback Resort. Out of the Ordinary Outback’s own visitor centre also operates in Broken Hill.

Visit or call 1300 688 225.


Tri State Safaris tour guide and renowned artist, Clark Barrett, uses his experience to create art specific tours for outback travellers.

A land of far-reaching skies, emblazoned by the sun or bejewelled by twinkling starlight. Home to sweeping landscapes, both barren and teeming with life. A meeting place of cultures, histories and heritage. Outback Australia inspires even the most enlightened.

It was a sense of curiosity and wonder for this land that led Clark to start exploring the dirt tracks leading north from his new hometown Broken Hill. Packing up what supplies he thought necessary, Clark would set out on the bitumen and dirt roads, with no destination in mind – sometimes travelling as far as 300kms before turning for home.

Clark’s thirst for adventure was second only to his curiosity, and the explorer would often knock on the homes of station owners, seeking insight into this incredible land.

Fascinated by “the laser bright intensity of the outback sunlight and the way it makes the colours vibrate”, it wasn’t long before Clark began recreating his outback visions on canvas.

Fast-forward forty years, and the avid adventurer delights in sharing his experiences, discoveries and insights with others. His new-found career as tour guide suits him to a tee, and the opportunity to continue his explorations often leads to unique tour experiences.

See more of outback artist Clark Barrett on his Facebook page

Customise your tour, with the insight from local artist Clark Barrett.

Clark brings his lifetime of experiences to provide an artist’s interpretation on Tri State Safaris adventure tours. With a background in culture and the arts, Clarke’s extensive knowledge of outback Australian culture, history and environments adds depth to the tours his leads.

The Corner Country is Clark’s specialty, but he brings passion and insight into all of the tours he delivers. Art-specific tours and customisable itineraries are available upon request. We have experience in catering charters for art groups. To request Clark as your tour guide, simply contact Tri State Safaris on 1300 688 225 and speak with our customer service.

Read more about outback adventures with Tri State Safaris


Out of the Ordinary Outback to promote Outback tourism to the international market

After a successful presentation at the 2017 Australian Tourism Exchange, Out of the Ordinary Outback has announced that it will continue to promote outback tourism at the event this year.

At the Tourism Exchange, Out of the Ordinary Outback representatives will aim to strengthen new and existing relationships with inbound travel agencies located around the globe, including Switzerland, Asia, America and Germany.

While the outback tourism group will promote their own tourism offering, they also aim to promote tourism throughout the regions they operate in.

Out of the Ordinary Outback Marketing co-ordinator, Janine Gowenlock comments.

“Growth and decline in outback tourism affects all community members. This includes a direct impact on businesses working in hospitality, retail and event management – as well the tourism industry itself. Indirectly it can significantly impact the economy of a whole community. We recognise that a part of our role in promoting outback tourism, is to promote the many outback communities we work within.”

The tourism group has a growing portfolio of nine accommodation venues and tourism services. These include iconic White Cliffs Underground Motel, award-winning tour company Tri State Safaris and new $5 million Broken Hill Outback Resort.

About the Australian Tourism Exchange

In April 2018, Adelaide will be host to Australia’s largest annual event for building tourism opportunities – the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE). The event will be held at the redeveloped Adelaide Convention Centre from April 15-19, 2018.

The event will attract more than 2,000 delegates from over 30 countries to meet and develop future tourism business for our country.

More than 550 Australian tourism businesses will showcase their products and services during the more than 50,000 business appointments held at the event.

As the host city, Adelaide can expect an immediate injection of around $10 million to the local economy during the event.

Longer term, the event helps to grow Australia’s $100 billion tourism industry through the relationships and future business facilitated at ATE.

Collectively, the 700 international travel wholesalers and retailers who attend ATE bring close to three million visitors to our country each year with an estimated pre-booked spend between $5.5 and $8.5 billion as well as their on-ground spend in Australia.

ATE is about showcasing the exceptional destinations and experiences offered by the diverse tourism businesses that can be found throughout the country, to encourage future bookings and travel to Australia.

The annual event has been run since 1979 and was last held in Adelaide in 2010. International tourism is worth about $1.1 billion a year to the South Australian economy. South Australian Tourism Minister Leon Bignell said the conference would also allow delegates to visit nearby premium food and wine regions such as Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, Kangaroo Island and Eyre Peninsula.



Jacinta Counihan escapes the city for outback adventures in Broken Hill and beyond.

Article as it appears in Holidays with Kids magazine, issue 54, 2018. Written by Jacinta Counihan

The world is silent as the sun sets over the curving orange horizon. The distractions and busyness of the city are far away as we join Tri State Safaris for a taste of the real Australia in Outback NSW.

Silver linings

We buzz into Broken Hill by propeller plane with Rex Airlines. The iconic outback town is located in the inner northwest of NSW, 50 kilometres from the South Australian border. We meet up with the Tri State Safari crew and are whisked away by 4WD to Silverton, a small mining town established in the 1880s. This once-flourishing silver-mining hub is now home to just 40 residents, lending it a ghost town vibe and as we reach the main street, I feel as if I am being transported into an old Western. The town has in fact starred in several movies, including Mad Max 2, which had such a huge impact on the region, there’s a museum in town dedicated to the film.

A desert oasis

As we head east to our next destination, I try to imagine how life must have been for the early explorers trudging over the harsh, barren landscape in hope of finding wealth and fortune. Luckily, we don’t have to walk this distance, instead kicking back for the comfortable two-hour drive to listen to stories of these early explorers, such as Burke and Wills, told by our friendly and knowledgeable guide, Clark.

We fall a little in love with Warrawong on the Darling, our accommodation for the night, which is an oasis in the desert. The park is a fantastic place for families to experience a true outback camping experience, with bush camping, powered sites and modern cabins scattered throughout the red gums and along the river banks. There are campsite meet-and-greets every afternoon and weekly barbecues offered in peak season, which makes socialising for the kids even easier.

After settling into our cabin, we are treated to an Aboriginal art showcase by Eddy Harris before enjoying dinner beside the picturesque billabong as the sun sets and the wildlife comes alive around us. The waterhole is a magnet for kids, and we watch on as they fish, canoe and explore the open wilderness.

Underground adventures

After a restful night, we’re back on the road and passing through the historic town of Wilcannia, known for being the third largest inland port during the paddle steamer era, despite it being almost 960 kilometres from the ocean.

Our next stop at White Cliffs turns out to be the highlight of my trip. In this opal mining town, its 200 residents live underground in dugouts to escape the summer heat.

It’s a simple life with limited mobile reception, one shop, a pub and the closest town – Broken Hill – three hours away. But it provides an incredible opportunity for the kids to see first-hand the realities of regional Australian life and teaches them to appreciate the basics.

We stop at the home of Cree and Lindsey, a couple who have turned empty mining shafts into their own underground mansion, and head off an opal tour with Graeme, owner of Red Earth Opal tours. As we delve 12 metres underground through the tunnels of the mining shafts, the kids rummage through rubble and collect shards of shiny blue and purple opal fragments. A small boy is crouched down next to me and points out potential opal rocks, clearly a lot more experienced than I am at this mining gig. It is doubtful they’ll strike it rich, but the kids still enjoy the thrill of the hunt.

Our adventures continue into the night at the subterranean White Cliffs Underground Motel. Built in 1989, it is so big it would fill a football field and it’s easy to get lost in the cave-like tunnels. The property stays a constant 22–23 degrees year-round and includes a swimming pool and an upper-ground viewing site where we watch the sun drop below the horizon, turning the sky a blazing shade of orange.

Indigenous explorations

We wake early to venture to Mutawintji National Park where our tour guide gives us a deeper understanding of the area’s Aboriginal community. A kangaroo casually bounces by as we attempt to comprehend the age of the 42,000-year old rock engravings and the kids listen, enraptured, to incredible Dreamtime stories.

We return to Broken Hill to The Argent Motel, where we are welcomed by a classic sausage sizzle and ice-cream dinner – a kiddy crowd pleaser. Then we’re off into the night for an Outback Astronomy experience, the enormous open sky bright with stars and incredible constellations.

As our adventure comes to its inevitable conclusion, we’re happily filled with a new affection for Outback NSW, its blend of adventure and its lovely people.

Travel in Jacinta’s footsteps with Tri State Safaris 3 Day Outback Exposure Tour. Book now or read the full itinerary here



The iconic inland sea situated in the Australian Outback

It seems like a mirage. With the blinding Australian sun at your back, and scorching red desert sands underfoot, the sight of Kati-Thanda-Lake Eyre would have brought tears to the eyes of early travellers. Partly because of its size. Partly because it is entirely salt water.

Situated 700km north of Adeliade in South Australia, Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre is the largest salt water lake in Australia. It is the focal point of the massive Lake Eyre Basin that covers over 1 million square kilometres and crosses into three Australian states and the Northern Territory.

Its name, Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre, recognises both the land’s traditional inhabitants, the indigenous Arabana people and its European discoverer Edward John Eyre.

This inland sea, is composed of two water bodies (North Lake Eyre and South Lake Eyre) connected by the 15m long Goyder Channel. It spreads across an area some 144km long and 77km wide covering more than 9,500 square metres. At its lowest point it reaches an incredible 15.3m below sea level – the lowest natural point on the Australian mainland.

Despite its size, high levels of evaporation mean most of the year Kati Thanda contains only little water. Between flood times, it appears as a vast expanse of salt-encrusted land and small lakes, set against striking blue skies and brilliant sun. It is easy to appreciate the isolation of this land, while standing at its edge and looking at what appears as a barren land to the untrained eye.

With the right conditions, the environment surrounding Kati Thanda changes dramatically. Heavy rain in Channel Country of SE Queensland causes rivers and channels to swell and flow to Kati-Thanda, and the lake’s water levels rise. With water comes an abundance of wildlife and new growth. Waterbirds descend in the thousands, including species such as pelicans, silver gulls, red-necked avocets, banded stilts and gull-billed terns.

Minor floods of up to 1.5m occur once every three or four years, while major floods occur only once a decade. Under spectacular circumstances, the inland sea will fill to capacity, happening as little as 4 times a century.

Water or no water, Kati Thanda is a spectacular and breath-taking sight, worthy of recognition as an Australian icon.

How to get there: Discover the wild beauty of Kati Thanda – Lake Eyre on Tri State Safaris’ 5 Day Lake Eyre Discovery Tour! More details here