**THIS TRIP WAS DONE IN OCTOBER 2020.
We hit the road late on Friday afternoon to start our two week trip west.
We had a quick overnight stop at a free camp just west of Singleton.
BULGA RECREATION GROUND is a great spot and only 20 minutes off the Golden Highway.
This is a free camp with toilets and has a great new playground for the kids! Definitely on our list to come back to for a weekend!
Follow this link for some further information on this campground.
After an extremely windy night at Bulga, we were back in the car to our first destination – LIGHTNING RIDGE!!
From Bulga we had a fairly big, but easy drive, to reach the Ridge.
We arrived late afternoon and set up at the Opal Caravan Park for three nights so we could explore all that this quirky town had to offer.
This was our third visit to Lightning Ridge. The kids were much younger on our last few trips so we were keen to show them around now they are older.
DAY 3 – 4
The next few days were spent exploring all that Lightning Ridge has to offer!
The CAR DOOR TOURS are the best way to see the majority of the attractions. You can grab a map from the Tourist Information Centre and this provides you with all the information you need. There are five different coloured (blue, red, green, yellow, orange) self guided tours to explore.
As you follow the route you need to look for the numbered car doors and your map will give you an explanation of what is there.
Some attractions you view from the car, others you can go into or walk around!
We also recommend watching the sunset from Nettleton’s First Shaft Lookout. The lookout is actually part of the Green Car Door Tour. We did the tour during the day then came back with some nibbles to watch the sunset.
Our top picks for must see attractions in Lightning Ridge are:
- Car Door Tours
- Chamber of the Black Hand
- Pubs in the Scrub
- Sunset viewing at Nettleton’s First Shaft Lookout
We had a great few days in The Ridge and today we were heading further west. Our plan was to do the Orange Car Tour Door on the way to Brewarrina where we were looking to find a camp for the night.
The Orange Car Door Tour takes you out to the Grawin Opal Fields which is around 60kms out of Lightning Ridge where you can visit the Pubs in the Scrub and see the working opal fields.
We left the van at the free camp in Cumborah and did the 60km loop around the pubs. We had no issue with towing the van around the dirt loop we were just unsure of how busy it would be and if there would be parking and turning space. It was pretty busy so it was the right choice to unhook!
A visit to the Pubs in the Scrubs is a must! You can have a beer, a meal and you can even have a hit of golf at The Club in the Scrub!!
The Sheepyard Inn has old cars, trucks, machinery and many other quirky things to see!
After we had finished the loop, we hooked the van back up and hit the dirt for 100kms to Brewarrina!
We were glad to find some space after being a little squishy in the van park in Lightning Ridge. Four Mile Reserve suited us just perfectly.
Four Mile Reserve is a free camp that sits on the Barwon River just 10 minutes from the township of Brewarrina.
Following this link for further information.
Today we were excited to begin our trip down the Darling River Run.
We drove back into Brewarrina and had a quick stop at the Aboriginal Fish Traps.
The fish traps are estimated to be 40,000 years old and one of the oldest man made structures on earth! They were built by ancient tribes to catch fish that were swimming upstream.
You can book a tour with the Aboriginal Cultural Museum. We didn’t do this but have heard it is very informative.
From Brewarrina we followed the Kamilaroi Highway to Bourke and stopped for lunch before hitting the Darling River Run!
The map below shows the section of the Darling River Run we did from Bourke to Menindee.
The Darling River Run consists of an east road and west road and it’s purely up to you as to which you take!
On another trip some years ago we had been down the east side of the Darling from Bourke to Louth so this time we travelled down the west side.
Along the way we stopped off at Toorale Homestead and had a wander around the short walking loop to view the historic buidings.
Mount Talowla Lookout wasn’t too much further along the Darling and worth a stop and walk to the top for the views of the surrounding area.
Our final stop for the day was DUNLOP STATION and we had phoned ahead to book a campsite to ensure they had room for us.
Dunlop Station is 14km downriver from Louth on the western side of the Darling River.
The station has unpowered campsites on the river. Our site wasn’t quite one of those as we thought we had booked, we were back up near the Homestead. However, we had an enjoyable stay!
Closer to the camping areas on the river there are toilets and showers and camping fees are $20 per night.
Before heading off from Dunlop Station we decided to do the Historic Tour, which we highly recommend! It is $15/adult or $40/family and this includes morning tea and a guided tour of the Homestead, Store and Shearing Shed. Contact the station for tour times.
Dunlop Station was established in 1880 and was once a million acres!!! Since then it has been split into smaller private properties and Dunlop is now the smallest station in the area.
The owner, Kim, bought the property 9 years ago and is slowly restoring the historical buildings. The tour is fantastic and Kim provides details of the interesting history of Dunlop Station. We highly recommend this even if you aren’t staying at Dunlop.
After our look around Dunlop Station, we continued along the western side of the Darling for around 80kms and pulled up at TILPA WEIR for the night.
This is a free camp with no facilities and is on the eastern side of the Darling, around 5kms north of Tilpa Pub.
Click here for some more information!
The pub wasn’t open on our way through this morning but we stopped for a look around anyway.
Then it was back across the Darling and down the eastern side to Wilcannia and onto Menindee.
On arriving in Menindee we decided to stay at LAKE PAMAMAROO and had two fabulous nights there.
Lake Pamamaroo is a free camp that stretches for around 2kms along the waters edge. The lake was full at the time of our stay and great for swimming, especially for kids as it’s quite shallow.
It’s the perfect spot to sit and watch the sunset over the water!
There are toilets further along at Burke & Wills Campground if needed and plenty of bins provided. We highly recommend this spot if coming to visit Menindee, it’s beautiful!
Check out our video for more information!
Today we spent the day exploring KINCHEGA NATIONAL PARK.
The Darling River Drive is a 27km loop through the National Park with a few historical stops along the way including:
THE WOOLSHED which was built in 1875. Over the course of the 95 years of operation some 6 million sheep were shorn here.
SHEARERS QUARTERS home to the men and women who worked in the Woolshed.
OLD KINCHEGA HOMESTEAD RUINS built in the 1870s.
Remnants of the paddle steamer, PS PROVIDENCE. The paddle steamer exploded here back in 1872.
There are also 34 campsites dotted along the river, most were a decent size, all have great views of the Darling and they are well spread out. Would be a great spot to camp!
National Park fees apply. It was $8 for a day pass and camping fees are applicable if you wish to stay.
DAY 10 – 11
It was time to move on and head as far west as we were going to get on this trip to explore Silverton and Broken Hill.
We decided to stay out at Silverton and set up at Penrose Park for two nights.
Click here for some more info on Penrose Park.
Silverton is 25km north west of Broken Hill and is a historic mining town, established in the early 1880’s.
The Silverton Village Community have put a lot of time and effort into preserving the history of this small town and today it provides a real insight into what this area was like many years ago.
Silverton is such a great town to visit with so much to see!! Make sure you keep an eye out for the two friendly donkeys that roam the township too!!
Today saw us leave Silverton for the short 20 minute trip to Broken Hill.
We had visited Broken Hill on a past trip many years ago but wanted to take the kids back through to show them a few attractions!
We stayed at Broken Hill Regional Events Centre which was just out of town and for an unpowered site it was only $20 per night. Power and amenities are available.
Our top recommendations when you visit Broken Hill…
Royal Flying Doctor Service Tour. Such an incredibly important service in the outback and well worth the visit and support! Very informative.
Silver City Mint & Art Centre + Broken Hill Chocolate Factory. The “BIG PICTURE” is AMAZING!!! It’s the world’s largest acrylic painting on canvas – 100m x 12m!!! No pics allowed so you’ll just have to trust our recommendation!
Line of Lode Miners Memorial. This memorial pays tribute to more than 800 lives lost due to mining.
Many other things to see and do in Broken Hill but if you are time poor, at least do the three above.
As it does out here, the weather is playing a part in where we go next. The rain around has caused many road closures so our trip across the dirt to Ivanhoe and Hillston will have to wait for another time. Instead, we will drive across the black stuff heading east to see what else we can find!
Coming through Cobar we stopped to get the obligatory pic! We needed a new one with the new cruiser!!
We decided to head in the direction of Lake Cargelligo so with a fairly decent day of driving up our sleeve, we decided to stop in Nymagee for a quick overnighter.
Nymagee is 100kms south east of Cobar and you will find this small town with a great pub and large free camping area out the back. We enjoyed an afternoon of drinks and chat with the publican and locals… gotta support the small towns!!
DAY 14 – 15
Today we found a bit more dirt road, that’s open, and skipped further south towards Lake Cargelligo.
We found a beautiful spot on Lake Cargelligo to enjoy our last couple of days before we started the trek home.
This campground is Frog’s Hollow and is just on the edge of town. There is a yellow donation box near the toilets. Great spot to fish, swim, ski or just relax!
After a couple of peaceful and relaxing days in Lake Cargelligo it was time to head towards home.
We stopped off in Condobolin to see the Utes in the Paddock display.
This is an outdoor art gallery showcasing 19 Holden utes that have been painted by Australian artists. Each ute has an info board with the artist’s name and the inspiration behind the design. A quirky little stop!
We continued on in the direction of Gulgong and decided to check out a new spot we’d come across on WikiCamps and I don’t think we could have stumbled across a better camp for our last night than this one!!
This is Crusher Campground, 10km west of Gulgong on Mebul Road. We came through from Wellington and there was around 15km of dirt road and another 4km from the campground back through to Gulgong. No facilities here, just a beautiful secluded free camp on the river… our ideal spot!
We suggest parking at the top and walking in to check road conditions and space before going down if towing.
The last day of this trip! Like most last days, we are close to home and have travelled these roads many times before so it’s just a travel day.
We did stop off for a break in Merriwa and snapped a picture of the Silo Art.
Any trip isn’t officially complete until the new lines have been added to our map!
Another great trip away in the van and the Outback is looking particularly beautiful at the moment we picked a great time to travel and get out there amongst it!
We went back to visit some places we hadn’t been to for 10 years and ticked off some new ones as well!
700km on dirt (with van in tow)
Averaged $16.75/night for our family of 4.
We don’t tend to share fuel costs as each car’s fuel consumption is different depending on what you have and what you tow.
We hope you enjoyed our look around Outback NSW!!