Touring Australia. Join Russ, of the TURAS team on an adventure in the Australian Outback.
Having arrived in NSW, Australia with my Land Rover Defender that was shipped from Europe, I was very excited to finally have the opportunity to explore this dusty land. After getting the vehicle cleared at customs I immediatly began researching a number of introductory initial trip options in what is probably one of the best remote travelling countries on the planet.As this would be my first trip in Australia with my Defender 90 my main objective was to try and incorporate in my first excursion as many different environments within a week. So after much reading of books, magazines and searching the internet I finally decided to drive to Broken Hill and take in Mungo National Park.
This route would incorporate ldeparting from Sydney ,visiting Broken Hill in the Outback NSW and returning via the world renowned Mungo National Park covering a total distance of just under 3000Km
My Australian mate from Brisbane Brucey who is a good bush cook and an even better guitarist would be coming along for the spin. As a young lad growing up and watching films like Mad Max (filmed in Broken Hill) this trip painted a very exciting picture for me.
I wanted to do this trip on a budget so I decided to bring my rooftop tent to save on accommodation costs. My roof top tent served me well in Australia with its quick set up and creature comforts of the built in queen size mattress providing plenty of room. So with the roof top tent, chairs, recovery equipment and fuel secured to my new roof rack, the ipod charged, a 3kg of leg of ham packed,(that was won by Bruce in a raffle in a pub the night before) we were ready to rock and experience a bit of outback New South Wales, I could not wait to hit the road.
After leaving Sydney our first camp was in Wellington just 51KM from Dubbo, we found a quiet campsite over looking Lake Burrendong. We were starving after the days driving.
Brucey agreed to cook for most of the trip as I was the designated driver. Bruce certainly lived up his side of the bargain after cooking a delicious meal comprising of risotto with ham accompanied by some freshly baked flat bread bush style. In the morning we were greeted by blue skies and a very curious Kangaroo. We decided to skip breakfast and wait to eat when we arrived in Dubbo.
Since leaving Sydney I started to notice that the undercarriage of the Landrover close to the hand break was getting very hot, this was causing me some concern so I decided to bring the vehicle to the Landrover dealers in Dubbo to get a professional opinion.
We arrived in Dubbo early in the morning.Having filled up with fuel and general supplies and after a hearty breakfast it was off to the Landrover dealers to investigate what was causing the heat close to the handbrake. Having discussed the issue with one of the mechanics I was told that it appeared that some fluid was leaking from the transfer case and this may be partly the cause of the issue.
I asked the mechanic if the Landy would take me to Broken Hill and back to Sydney, he was hesidant to give it the all clear. Decisions decisions, do I book the vehicle in to get the issue further investigated and hang around Dubbo for possibly a few days or do I add some fluids and take a chance and keep going?
Under normal circumstances I would have not taken the chance but having discussed our options with Brucey we decided to continue with the trip as time was not on our side. I was a little concerned as we still a fair distance to go and I hoped she would make it back to Sydney without any dramas.
As we left Dubbo our journey continued through the NSW western slopes past ‘Nyngan and then onto the Barrier Highway through to Cobar (132km), Wilcannia (+250km), and finally Broken Hill (+196km) a total distance of 1167 covered since leaving Sydney. As we got closer to Broken Hill, I was very much looking forward to seeing the outback for the first time. It’s amazing how the landscape and soil formations changed the further we drove and the closer we got to the outback. The last stretch of road to Broken Hill is a long one with not much traffic other than the odd road train.
After a long day driving we finally arrived in Broken Hill, the edge of the Outback in NSW, we were also now in a different time zone so remember to adjust your watches to South Australian time with 30 mins in the difference. From Sydney we were now 1/5 of the distance to the west coast of Australia.
Over the years, Broken Hill has grown from the iconic outback mining town to the cultural centre of Outback NSW .It is also interesting to note that the town has more trucks and sets of traffic lights underground than it does on the surface.
Before heading to the tourist office we drove to the top the huge hill that overlooks the town we went into the mine museum for a quick cup of coffee at the Broken Earth Café .This is a great place to get your bearings of the town and don’t forget to get a photo opportunity of sitting on the large chair that sits beside the museum and café, the kids will love this.
We decided to camp at Silverton, so having picked up some brochures at the tourist office it was off to Silverton, 30km later we arrived in this quaint outback village,we then went straight to the famous Silverton Hotel for a refreshing drink before setting up camp for the night. I have to say that this was one of the coolest pubs I had been to since arriving in Australia.Silverton over the years has become a well known film and television location with films such as, Mad Max II, Mission Impossible 2, Priscilla, A Town Like Alice, and many others filmed near there.
The Pub at Silverton is a great spot for a drink or light refreshment with a great collection of photographs posted on the walls of films that have been filmed in the area, The bar tender was very friendly and gave us lots of background to the pub and some insightful local knowledge.
This was a great experience for me, as a young lad remembering going to see Mad Max in the cinema, I was now pretty chuffed to be driving around the same area kicking up the red dust in my trusty Landrover.
After checking out all the memorabilia and the model vehicles from the Mad Max movie that were parked outside the pub we then headed for Mundi Mundi lookout (5 km past Silverton); this is a great spot to watch the sunset.
Our bush camp site was just up the road near Silverton. Once again my Job was to pull out the roof top tent and set up our make shift kitchen which includes a nifty table and sink that attaches to the side of the Landrover, and of course to get the fire going.With the fire starting to crackle it was time to put all of the ingredients for the stew into the camp oven and to set the kneaded dough for the damper aside to rise. After dinner we sat back around the campfire listening to the birds go into their final frenzy as the sun went down.
That night we also had a curious fox who ventured very confidently into our camp to see what was going on. It’s always important to make sure that all food etc is packed away and the animals should not be fed, he eventually headed off into the bush after some coaxing.This was my first taste of the Australian Outback and I was very much looking forward to going further a field in my Land Rover Defender and exploring this remote and ancient land.