Get a completely different flavour of New South Wales, discover the ancient, dramatic and wildly remote Outback
Best for: Desert adventure, endless horizons
Route: Broken Hill, Silverton, Mutawintji National Park, Mungo National Park
Duration: One week
If you were in any doubt as to the variety on offer in New South Wales, consider the fact that the atmospheric desert town of Broken Hill is far enough removed from Sydney to be in a different time zone. However, this wonderfully wild region remains easily accessible from the city – by air (2.5hrs), rail (13hrs) and road trip (12hrs).
The journey west to Outback NSW is an eye-opening one, laying bare the region’s 40,000 years of human history and serving up a series of otherworldly landscapes. It makes sense to start your explorations at Broken Hill. Here, mining still powers the local economy, and attractions range from the School of the Air – a virtual ‘classroom’ for school-age children scattered across 1.8 million sq km of Outback – to a number of creative art galleries. Don’t miss the Living Desert Reserve Sculpture Park, high above town – the views at sunset are spectacular.
Camel, Silverton Hotel (Mike Newling; Destination NSW)
Make Silverton your next port of call. The far-flung township is surrounded by the sun-baked flatlands of the Mundi Mundi Plains (the area was featured in Mad Max 2), and has a vintage museum and a much-photographed pub. From here, head back through Broken Hill to the deep gorges and age-old rock art of Mutawintji National Park. You’ll need to join a guided tour to see the ancient art, but there’s also a highly informative cultural centre and a number of park walks that can be taken.
Travelling south, make your way through the desert to the extraordinary Mungo National Park, which has a hefty claim to fame. It was here, among the park’s giant sand dunes and dried-up lakes, that archaeologists uncovered the oldest human remains ever recorded in Australia, Mungo Lady and Mungo Man (as the remains are known), dating back more than 40,000 years.
The park, which forms a part of the UNESCO-listed Willandra Lakes Region, is also renowned for its vast main dune system of lunettes, known as the ‘Walls of China’. The impressive natural feature, along with other eye-scorching panoramas and sightings of hardy desert wildlife, can be enjoyed on hiking and mountain-biking trails. This is New South Wales at its most dramatic and diverse.
The Outback, Broken Hill (Maxime Coquard;Destination NSW)
Lying just behind the Pacific coast of New South Wales is the fertile inland area of the state known as Country NSW, the perfect choice for more off-the-beaten track exploring.
There are many highlights here, including the volcanic landscapes of Warrumbungle National Park, the historic gold-mining centre of Forbes, the fascinating Indigenous art galleries of Wagga Wagga and atmospheric old country towns such as Dubbo and Bathurst. Wine-tasting, waterfalls, paddle-steamer trips and long-distance walks are also on offer. With more than seven million hectares of land, this region is rich in travel possibilities.
Main image: Walls of China, Mungo NP (Destination NSW)
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