Regional & outback NSW

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Get to know the magic of regional and outback NSW. Photo: Tourism Australia
 

Head West & explore Outback NSW. There’s a lot to love about regional and outback NSW which is blessed with gorgeous towns, farms and things to do. Get back to the simple life and meet ‘salt-of-the-earth’ locals who are ready to roll out the 'welcome mat' for you. Keep an eye out for the incredible line-up of outback festivals and events, which are quirky and probably the best fun you’ll ever have.

Many outback towns are suffering one of the worst droughts in Australian history so adding them to your itinerary is an incredible way to show your support for the locals. In return, you’ll meet great people, have amazing experiences and enjoy hospitality like never before. Heads up, the outback is dry, dusty and hot, so ideally plan your visit between March and October.

 

Getting around NSW - directions & distance
  • The NSW outback is west of Sydney. Regional NSW is very popular for road trips and there’s plenty of cool places to stop in at.
  • Major regional towns have airports, but to make the most of your visit, I recommend hiring a car to get around.

Things to do in Mudgee, NSW

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Take a walk around the historical Mudgee town centre, Photo: Destination NSW 
 

Getting there: Mudgee is 3.5 hours west from Sydney
 

  • Book in for the Saturday walking tour and learn about Mudgee’s rich history. Mudgee is a beautiful town filled with heritage-listed buildings including Australia’s oldest operating opera house. Another option is a self-guided tour.

  • Eat and drink your way around Mudgee. Mudgee has been voted Australia’s best foodie destination and produces the sweetest honey, olives and oils, delicious chocolate and cheeses.

  • Head to the farmer's markets and get your fresh, local goodies. Everything sold at the markets have been grown, reared, caught, brewed, pickled or baked by the stallholders themselves. Farmers' markets are held on the third Saturday of each month in Robertson Park.

  • Do the farm gate trail which is the ultimate Paddock to Plate experience. Download your free map and go from farm to farm sampling the tastiest seasonal produce including cherries, olives, pomegranates, hazelnuts and meats.

  • Take a farm-walking tour which are generally scheduled for the third Sunday of the month. Each month, two farms open their doors so visitors can meet see a working farm in action, and taste food that’s in season. Chat to the farmers, and get your hands dirty by picking your own food on the spot.

  • Drink Mudgee wines.  With over 40 boutique cellar doors, you can map out your own itinerary tour or join a wine tour. 

  • Keep a lookout for the Mudgee festivals and events that typically celebrate all-things food and wine (including the annual Flavours of Mudgee in September.)

  • Do some stargazing at the Mudgee Observatory for out-of-this-world views.

Gossip: The popular Australian TV show ‘Doctor Doctor’ is filmed in Mudgee.


Things to do in Dubbo, NSW

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The Western Plains Zoo is a must-visit when you're in Dubbo. Photo: Tourism Australia 
 

Getting there: Dubbo is 5 hours from Sydney (or 1.5 hours from Mudgee)

  • Meet over 4,000 animals at Dubbo’s famous Western Plains Zoo. Hundreds of rare and endangered animals (including giraffes, rhinos, elephants) roam freely around this open range zoo. Dubbo’s zoo is also part of an international breeding program and is loads of fun for everyone – not just the kids. For the ultimate African safari experience, stay overnight in one of the zoofari lodges.

  • Take a tour of the heritage-listed Old Dubbo Gaol and watch local actors share stories of life behind bars back in the day. Check out the collection of Hangmans ropes and knots – which is the largest collection in Australia.

  • Experience the sacred Aboriginal site at Terramungamine Reserve (a 10-minute drive from town), where there are 150 grinding grooves carved into rocks.  These grinding grooves are thousands of years old and were made by the local Tubbagah Aboriginal people who would shape their tools and sharpen their spears on the rocks.

  • Go bushwalking or explore the caves in the Warrumbungle National Park (which is 1 ¾ drive north of Dubbo’s town centre.) At the end of the day, enjoy some stargazing through Australia’s largest telescope at the Siding Spring Observatory. Warrumbungle National Park has 15 different walking tracks and lookouts including the:

    • Grand High Tops lookout and Bluff Mountain lookout
    • Wambelong Nature walking track (1km loop)
    • Burbie Canyon walking track (2km return)
    • Fans Horizon walking track (3.6 km loop)
    • Breadknife and Grand High Tops walk (14.5km loop).


Book a First Lesson cultural tour with local elder Peter Peckham and check out the grinding grooves site. Photo: Destination NSW
 

  • Take a hike on one of the six walking tracks in Mount Arthur Reserve. Walks vary from an easy 30-minute stroll to a more challenging half day-hike. Whichever walk you choose, you’ll get to spot native birds, animals and hundreds of species of flora and fauna. There’s also dedicated mountain bike tracks and horse riding trails. Mount Arthur Reserve is 40 minutes south of Dubbo.  

  • Visit Wellington Caves and Phosphate Mine which is 20-minute drive from Mount Arthur. These limestone caves are millions of years old. Take a one-hour guided tour of the caves, and don’t worry, hard-hats are supplied.

  • Head to Lake Burrendong for some kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, waterskiing and fishing. (Lake Burrendong is 50 minutes south from Wellington but it’s a great place to cool off and relax, camp or even book one of the holiday cabins.)

  • Nearby is Burrendong Botanic Garden and Arboretum which has one of the largest collections of native Australian plants and a man-made rainforest. Stroll through Fern Gully which has tickling creeks and a huge thatched canopy. Entry to the Gardens is FREE. There’s also free guided tours on the fourth Sunday of each month.


Things to do in Orange, NSW

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Try the locally grown apples when you visit Orange. Photo: Destination NSW
 

Getting there: Orange is 3.5 hours west from Sydney. If you’re coming from Dubbo, drive 2 hours south and you’ll arrive in Orange.


Orange is a country town with a big heart. It’s known for its yummy food and wine; history, museums and art galleries; and great parks and outdoor activities.
 

Book a tour of Orange 
  • Get to know the local Orange with the help of a local tour guide. Whether it’s a Captain Barnacles motorbike tour, exploring the local indigenous culture and meeting the local Wiradjuri Elders, touring wineries and distilleries, or 4 wheel driving, there's plenty of options to choose from.
     

Food and wine

Orange prides itself on growing and making delicious food and wine. Munch on the local apples, pears, exotic fruits, gourmet cheeses and meats.

  • Visit the farmers markets to experience the full smorgasbord of local produce. The Orange Farmers Market are the second Saturday of the month, and the Blayney Farmers Market are the third Sunday of the month.

  • Make time to visit the boutique wineries that produce award-winning chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. Fancy a cold beer or cider, there’s a few breweries to check out including "Dangerously Drinkable" beers and Small Acres Cyder. It’s also worth dropping by Jones and Smith Distillery for Australian craft single malt whiskey, gin, or brandy. 
     

Enjoy the great outdoors

Go bushwalking, bike riding or enjoy a picnic in the many beautiful national parks and reserves including: 

  • Nangar National Park where you can spot kangaroos, wallabies, bats, peregrine falcons and wedge-tailed eagles.

  • Go bushwalking and birdwatching in Mount Canobolas, where you’ll find thornbills, flame robins, wrens and honeyeaters, currawongs and rosellas. When the sun goes down, enjoy the soothing tones of the southern boobook owl. Walks vary from 30 minutes to 2 hours so set off on the Nature track or Summit track (which are both 2kms), or take the 4km Federal Falls walk.

  • Borenore Karst Conservation Reserve that has ancient limestone caves, walking tracks and picnic spots.

  • Take a self-guided walk through Cook Park (including the original caretaker's cottage.) Depending on when you visit, you’ll notice the flowers and plants reflect the season. Spring is tulip and daffodil time in Cook Park.
     

Museums, galleries & culture 

Orange has become a creative hub with an impressive line-up of museums, galleries, theatres and events.

  • Fancy seeing what fish were like millions of years ago, then head to the Age of Fishes museum.

  • Animals on Bikes is a cool outdoor sculpture trail with 111 sculptures that have been created by local farmers and artists.

  • The corner store gallery has pop-up exhibitions and workshops by local artists and designers.

  • The Orange Regional Gallery is another great place to see and buy new and innovative works by local artists.

  • Kids of all ages will have a ball at the Twentieth Century Toy Museum where there’s over 2,000 different toys from last century.


Things to do in Parkes, NSW

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Get your 'Elvis' fix at the King's Castle Elvis Exhibit or at the annual Parkes Elvis Festival. Photo: Tourism Australia
 

Getting there: Parkes is 5 hours west from Sydney (or 1 hour from Orange). 
 

  • Visit the Parkes observatory and see the world-famous ‘Dish’. The Dish is a huge radio telescope that helped broadcast the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing.

  • Head to Lake Cargelligo to swim, kayak, water ski, or zoom about on a jet ski. The lake is a popular spot for sailing or go fishing for Cod, Yellow Belly, and Silver Perch.

  • Soak up some unique Parkes culture at the Henry Parkes Centre with four very different museums under one roof including the:

    • collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia at the King's Castle Elvis Exhibit.
    • the Parkes Motor Museum with motor vehicles across all eras.
    • The Henry Parkes Museum and Antique Machinery Collection displaying objects and photos on the history of Parkes.
    • If you’re in Parkes in January, don’t miss the annual Parkes Elvis Festival. This is five days of events, performances, dancing and parades dedicated to all things Elvis.
       

Things to do in Broken Hill, NSW

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Check out Broken Hill's Living Desert Sculptures. Photo: pjlogan5, Pixabay
 

Getting there: Broken Hill is a 13-hour drive west from Sydney (or 8.5 hours from Parkes to Broken Hill)
 

Broken Hill is the unofficial capital of the NSW outback. This charming town is a bit of a movie star, and has featured in many famous Australian movies including Mad Max 2, and Priscilla - Queen Of The Desert. In between all the dazzle, Broken Hill is filled with history and culture.

  • Take the 2 hour Broken Hill Heritage Walk Tour. Your guides will take you past heritage buildings such as the Post Office, former St Josephs Convent, and the iconic Palace hotel featured in the movie Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Free tours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 10am.

  • Visit the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery, which is the oldest regional gallery in NSW. The gallery is on Argent Street (Broken Hill’s main street) and it's free entry but any donation is appreciated. This gallery houses some of the most exquisite works by famous Australian artists across the centuries. See works by Pro Hart, Eric Minchin, Margaret Preston, Arthur Streeton Arthur Boyd, Mandy Martin, Tim Storrier, and many more. There’s also incredible indigenous works by Badger Bates, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri and Emily Kame Kngwarreye and many other artists.

  • Drop into the Pro Hart Gallery to see his drawings, sketches and famous landscape paintings that capture the spirit of the Outback.

  • Be captivated by the outdoor Living Desert Sculptures. Take the walking trail past 12 dramatic sandstone sculptures created by international artists.

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