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Western Australia

Road trip through Outback NSW

Red dust swirling, sunshine streaming down on the grassy plains, and history and heritage around every corner. Brooke Montgomery discovers why an Outback NSW road trip is perfect for your next family getaway.

Camel Riding in Broome

Stop one: Lightning Ridge

Immerse yourself in over 100 years of mining culture in a town where country charm is on the menu, and astonishingly, where 95 per cent of Australia’s opals are produced. A tour of the underground mines with Outback Opal Tours will prove a fascinating experience as you explore a working quarry and buy some trinkets. Then head to the local fossicking heap to see what treasures you can find amongst the white opal dirt, and if little diggers want more, stop at the Australian Opal Centre, home to the world’s greatest public collection of rare opalised fossils from the Age of the Dinosaurs.

Karijini Eco Retreat

Stop two: Bourke

3.5 hours from Lightning Ridge
While travelling between Lightning Ridge and Bourke, be sure to stop in the fishing town of Brewarrina to wander through the Aboriginal Cultural Museum housed in gunyahs – dome-shaped buildings which replicate traditional Aboriginal housing. Your little ones will just love seeing the traditional artworks and artefacts, all the while learning stories of the Dreamtime and the town’s rich Indigenous history. Once in Bourke, stop by the Back O’ Bourke Exhibition Centre to see the thrilling stories of the outback brought to life. Take a cruise down the Darling on the resident paddle vessel PV Jandra – the perfect family photo op – or head a little further south to Gundabooka National Park to walk the bush trails, discover some amazing rock art and stay a night at the picturesque campgrounds.

Kalbarri National Park

Stop three: Broken Hill

6.5 hours from Bourke
At first sight, the mountain of mine residue that forms the backdrop to Broken Hill gives visitors the sense that they are visiting Australia’s final frontier. If your family loves a little bit of Aussie history with their morning cuppa, Broken Hill is an educational oasis and it’s all centred on the town’s mining past. Go ‘underground’ at the Historic Day Dream Mine, the White’s Mineral Art & Living Mining Museum and the Albert Kersten Mining & Minerals Museum to discover the outback life of yesteryear or take to the skies at Bruce Langford Visitor’s Centre, a combination of a museum, hangar, theatre and interactive displays showing the history of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Next stop: the Sulphide Street Railway and Historical Museum, which is actually four museums for the price of one and has a great steam train collection for the littlies to clamber aboard. By now the family might be on information overload, so pop over to the Living Desert Reserve for some fresh air and a wander through the 12 sandstone artworks. If the kids need a sugar fix, enter the 1950s-themed Bells Milk Bar and Museum for one of its nationwide-famous sodas, spiders or milkshakes.


Stop four: Mungo National Park

4.5 hours from Broken Hill
The final leg of the road trip: a jaunt to one of the most culturally significant national parks in the country. Mungo National Park’s real drawcard is its towering sand dunes, nicknamed the ‘Walls of China’. The dunes have been the focus of many a photography session with the intricate shapes and patterns caused by erosion cutting a striking feature against the desert backdrop. There are various campsites to spend the night so settle in to watch the sunset, cool drink in hand, family all around – what better way to finish off your visit to the NSW outback?

Snorkelling at Rottnest Island

This article featured in volume 48 of Holidays with kids. Enjoyed it? Subscribe to see more!

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