Step outside the box in NSW's surprising Outback.
When we think of the Outback, we think of vast sweeping landscapes and rich Aboriginal culture. The unique region is bursting at the seams with truly unforgettable adventures and one-of-a-kind experiences, with something wonderful (and sometimes weird) to suit every type of traveller. Below are just five of these extraordinary encounters to give you a taste of the magic of Outback NSW.
TAKE A STARRY BATH WITH THE CHARACTERS OF LIGHTNING RIDGE
Lightning Ridge is famous for its black opal industry, so be sure to catch ‘Black Opal Fever’ with a tour of the mining operations, camps and castles in search of the elusive gemstone.
When the sun goes down, you can rest your weary bones at a very well-kept secret, the Artesian Bore Baths. You can soak in heated thermal baths under the Walgett Shire’s starry night sky and swap stories with some of the ‘ridges’ quirky characters, like the miner living on the top of Lunatic Hill who used to be a talent agent. Best of all, it won’t cost you a cent!
DAYDREAM OF GHOSTS AND QUEENS IN BROKEN HILL
Follow the trail of the Silver City Highway to the historic mining city of Broken Hill. You can take a stroll down Argent Street and experience its heritage at every turn, but this ‘Silver City’ has many more glimmers if you know where to look.
Take a guided tour of the Day Dream Mine for an unforgettable taste of the harsh working conditions of the bygone mining era. Above ground, treat yourself to a tour around the Silver City Mint and Art Centre, home to the largest acrylic painting on canvas. The centre also smelts, casts and manufactures silver jewellery, allowing you to take home your own unique treasures.
If you’re a movie buff you will know that Broken Hill is the home of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The Palace Hotel was made famous by the movie, and word on the grapevine is that the original ‘Priscilla Bus’ has returned home and will be standing proud for the public in 2015.
Finally, you can’t leave Broken Hill without resting your head where the miners once did. Holiday cottage A Miner’s Rest lives and breathes a gentler time and lifestyle of pioneer women in long skirts, hardworking mining men, and grubby small children playing marbles in the dust on the veranda. You might even see a ghost, with many guests having reported waking up in the night to find the spectre of an old miner and his wife smiling at them!
A ‘DARLING" SPOT TO STAY SWIM AND DISCOVER - WARRAWONG AND WILCANNIA
Take your accommodation with you and camp at hidden gem Warrawong on the Darling, just off the Barrier Highway, 260km from Cobar and 200km from Broken Hill. As well as being an outstanding facility, Warrawong on the Darling has 1700 acres of working farm land and endless natural, secluded camp sites on the river or lagoon.
The best way to experience this unique property is a personal tour with indigenous artist Eddy Harris. Eddy will show you the river and red gums, followed by an aboriginal tour of the cooking sites, stone tools and bush foods. The tour will conclude at an art gallery on site, displaying Eddy’s art and an explanation of how it connects back to the scenery of the land and the property.
A must visit during your stay at Warrawong is the town of Wilcannia. In the 1890s, Wilcannia was Australia’s third largest inland port town and known as the ‘Queen City of the West’. Its legacy is apparent today on streets lined with historic architecture, best enjoyed by walking the town’s heritage trail.
MAKE YOUR MARK WITH A TIPPLE IN TILPA
Explore a little further down the track and you’ll come across another extra-ordinary encounter in the small outback community of Tilpa, 130km north of Wilcannia.
Pull up a chair for a tipple in an infamous pub made entirely from corrugated iron and covered with graffiti, demonstrating the dry wit of the bush. You can even make your own mark on the Tilpa Hotel’s walls for the price of a donation to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
WALK ON THE MOON AND STAY IN A CAVE AT WHITE CLIFFS
You’ll already be feeling like you’re at the last frontier of the Outback as you encounter the miners who work and live underground, but you can go one step further and stay the night in White Cliff’s underground motel or station accommodation and listen to locals tell stories of wealth won and lost.