Seemingly endless lockdowns and restrictions have left most of us craving big, open road serves of freedom, space and adventure and a sky full of pure, fresh air. And lots of space to roam.
The expansive and easily accessible heart of the NSW Outback boasts all the elements required for a much-needed escape. Comfortably close to home for a carefree but not-too-long roadtrip but far enough away to remedy a serious case of wanderlust – and without crowds – the free-range scenery of Outback NSW offers all the raw joy of a roadtrip journey from Sydney to Broken Hill, through the NSW outback. That means sweeping panoramas, shimmering horizons, long, empty roads, vast skies, wide, open spaces, rich red earth, quirky pubs, eccentric characters, colourful towns and a spellbinding sense of wonder.
Post lockdown, record numbers of us are hitting the road in a quest to reconnect with nature, the great outdoors and the unbridled joy of exploration.
Our family business, Out of the Ordinary Outback, owns seven strategically placed properties across far western NSW Outback – drawcard places like Broken Hill, Cobar, Wilcannia and White Cliffs where you can soak in desert views from a jacuzzi, stay by a billabong and even sleep underground. Join the dots for each Outback NSW property and you can create the perfect roadtrip right across the region and pocket handy savings when you stay at two or more of our properties.
From Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide or elsewhere, there are lots of possible routes and loops through the vast NSW Outback, so dig out a map, which sparks the excitement of an adventure right away, and plot your path but ensure iconic places like Broken Hill and White Cliffs are on your itinerary – captivating places many city dwellers have never been to. Of course, you can also fly to Broken Hill or catch a train there and then hire a car.
From home, there will come a stage in your journey when the road ahead becomes dead straight, fences disappear, wild, rugged landscapes unfold, towns and cars are further apart and emus, kangaroos and eagles appear. That’s when the adventure gets even more exciting, clearing, relaxing and opening your mind and offering scope for new perspectives. And while it’s good to have a route planned, it’s also fun to turn off the highway sometimes to quench your curiosity and experience less-visited places. Stop the car occasionally, wander into the arid landscape a little and just feel the place, breathing in the magic and wonder of it all.
If you’re coming from Sydney, Nyngan is the first frontier-style town you’ll encounter – where the pace is noticeably slower and the town’s now famous – and very large – ‘Big Bogan’ statue towers over the main street. Nyngan may proudly boast some real-life bogans but the statue of an Aussie bloke in a singlet is actually a fun play on the name of the surrounding Bogan Shire.
Cobar and Wilcannia (260kms)
Nyngan is where the outback really begins – big barren spaces open up and the soil turns deep scarlet with far fewer cars passing by. Further west, the remote copper mining town of Cobar is an ideal place to rest your eyes and body. Here you’ll find a welcoming bed and steaming hot shower at Cobar’s Copper City Motel
After a restful sleep, head further west to the semi-ghost town of Wilcannia on the storied Darling River. This almost deserted town was once the third largest inland port in Australia during the great riverboat era of the mid-19th Century. Today, Wilcannia, with its wide, empty streets and historic but abandoned colonial buildings is well worth an exploration on foot before heading to one of our properties nearby, Warrawong on the Darling – a beautiful and relaxing cabin and NSW caravan park by a billabong on the Darling River.
Warrawong on the Darling is now famous on the road trip circuit for our communal campfires where guests and staff mingle over sunset drinks and nibbles, sharing stories from the open road and admiring the lagoon birdlife. Explore along the river, lined by huge, gnarly gums, and venture across nearby sand dunes where you can watch the sunrise over the outback.
Wilcannia to White Cliffs (94kms)
An hour north of Wilcannia, across a distinctly barren but nonetheless captivating landscape, is the weird and wacky desert hamlet of White Cliffs. This nuggety, sun-seared opal mining outpost in the middle of nowhere sizzles so much in summer that almost everyone lives underground in eternally cool dugout houses built into the sides of hills. One of these is our very famous White Cliffs Underground Motel, which boasts the largest underground accommodation in Australia. It’s eerily quiet and pitch black when you turn the lights out but you’ll enjoy a deep and unique stayover you’ll always remember. Be sure to check out the stunning night sky, filled with more stars than you’ve ever seen at home, and the spectacular sunrises across the arid plains.
Take time also to explore this eccentric shantytown of White Cliffs with its abandoned cars, labyrinth of mines and quirky art displays. It feels like a lawless cowboy town where anyone does anything they want – and usually does!
Further west is the vibrant heart of the NSW Outback, the handsome, heritage-listed city of Broken Hill. This oasis-like and colourfully spirited culture hub is so far west in NSW that it runs on South Australian time. There’s a treasure trove of restaurants, cafes, retro milk bars, museums, art galleries and pubs to enjoy here including the illustriously grand, three-storied Palace Hotel, famous for its starring role in the hit Aussie drag queen movie, ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert’ and the outrageous Drag Bingo evenings still held there in honour of the movie.
Nestled amongst the ochre dunes 13km outside Broken Hill is our flagship property, Broken Hill Outback Resort where you can base yourself while exploring the region. Fusing nature and luxury and offering a genuine Outback NSW experience, our Broken Hill accommodation opened in 2018 and boasts 24 self-contained cabins – including deluxe king spa cabins – as well as a fully serviced Outback NSW caravan park grouped around a charming, 130-year-old pub completely restored by Out of the Ordinary Outback to offer a bar and bistro restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, hearty meals and live music on weekends. New deluxe, ready-to-use swags can be hired including linen and there’s a fire pit at night so all resort guests can gather to toast marshmallows under starry outback skies.
While based at the resort, must-experience places around Broken Hill include the amazing stargazing available from the Outback Astronomy near the resort, the ancient gorges and indigenous engravings at Mutawintji National Park and the zany ghost town of Silverton with its character-filled outback pub and endless Mundi Mundi Plains where the Mad Max films were made. And just outside Broken Hill, poised stoically on top of a small, rugged peak, stand 12 sandstone art sculptures overlooking the wilderness as part of the Living Desert Sculpture Trail – a perfect spot at sunset, champagne in hand, to toast the beauty of the outback.
Another idyllic place to admire the stark splendour of the desert is from the sundeck and the deep-tub jacuzzi overlooking the dunes in our king spa cabins back at Broken Hill Outback Resort. Soak in the serenity and plot your return route home, exploring more magical places that quench your pent-up wanderlust.
* Enjoy a 10% discount when you stay at two or more of our seven properties in the NSW Outback.
- Copper City Motel, Cobar
- Warrawong on the Darling, Wilcannia
- White Cliffs Underground Motel
- Broken Hill Outback Resort
- The Argent Motel, Broken Hill
- The Tourist Lodge, Broken Hill
- Ivanhoe Hotel Motel