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Drive Sydney to Broken Hill

Drive Sydney to Broken Hill - Touring route options for getting to Broken Hill from Sydney. New South Wales, AustraliaBroken Hill is a 'must-see' destination, so much so that in 2015, Broken Hill became the first Australian city to be included on the National Heritage List. That's impressive!

Located in Far West NSW, about 400 km south of Cameron Corner and Tibooburra, Broken Hill is considered the capital of the outback and the gateway to the interior of this great country. It is only a short drive from the Darling River (Menindee) and a must-visit destination when doing the Darling River Run.

Driving from Sydney to Broken Hill can be a one-day highway drive or a 2-3-day adventure tour via some iconic places along the way.

Sure the direct route is quicker than the adventure route, but if you want something different and have a few days to do it, then this 'Road Less Travelled' is the way to go! The adventure route includes the Bourke, Louth, Tilpa, and Menindee section of the iconic Darling River Run.

The drive from Sydney to Broken Hill is traditionally a pleasant run out along the Western Motorway, over the Blue Mountains, along the Castlereagh Highway then west along the Barrier Highway; delightful, long, and without much fun.

But for a real adventure, there is an excellent alternative route that will connect you with the land and taking in some fantastic sights along the way. There is so much to see and experience on the way the quickest mode of transport or the most direct driving route would almost seem like cheating.

"It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end." Ursula K. Le Guin

Direct Routes

The drive from Sydney to Broken Hill can be as varied as the outback itself. The most direct route is across the Blue Mountains, worthy of a stopover, then out to Nyngan and along the Barrier Highway to the Silver City. Alternatively, the Sturt Highway route through the Riverina and along the Murray is a beautiful way for this who like the ‘road less travelled’. 

drive from sydney to broken hill direct, Outback NSW, Australia

Blue Mountains - Barrier Highway

Often, the most direct touring route is not always the most exciting, but not so in this case as this drive to Broken Hill can include a stopover at the world-famous Blue Mountains.

For those who have not experienced the majestic Blue Mountains, the area offers a perfect stopover for a day or two exploring Echo Point, the Three Sisters, and Wentworth Falls.

From the Blue Mountains, the route heads out to Mudgee via the Castlereagh Hwy and onto the Nyngan via the Mitchell Highway before heading west along the Barrier Highway to Broken Hill.

Route

  • Sydney <> The Blue Mountains <> Mudgee <> Dubbo <> Nyngan <> Cobar <> Wilcannia <> Broken Hill

Distance: 1,146km

The Riverina - Murray River

While it may seem a much longer way to go, the route from Sydney to Broken Hill via the Riverina is only about 150 km longer; and in many ways easier as it avoids the often congested road over the Blue Mountains.

The route begins south via the Hume and then heading west along the Sturt Highway (Wagga Wagga exit) for a beautiful tour through the Riverina via Darlington Point, Hay, and Balranald, before meeting up with the Murray River at Euston.
From there, it is onto the 'fruit bowl' orchards around Mildura (well worth a stopover) and Wentworth.

Getting to Broken Hill from Wentworth is a straight run up the Silver City Highway, with a great alternative via Lake Mungo (Mungo National Park) and onto Pooncarie before following the path of the Darling River up to Menindee and Menindee Lakes.

From Menindee, is a little over 1 hours' drive.

Route

  • Sydney <> Goulburn <> Wagga Wagga <> Hay <> Mildura <> Wentworth <> Broken Hill

Distance: 1,309km

The Adventure Route

Distance: 1,704 km

* Note, the first section of this route can be either via the magnificent Wollondilly Valley or a more direct way to Bathurst. The option to go via Wollondilly Valley is not suitable for caravans due to the road's narrowness down to Wollondilly River. Camper trailers are ok.

drive sydney to broken hill australia

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Wollondilly River Camping - New South Wales, Australia

The route out includes Wollondillydilly Valley, Wombeyone Caves, Bathurst, then a wonderful route along the Macquarie river past the Macquarie Marshes then on to Bourke and down the Darling to Menindee for the short drive to the Silver City.

Sydney to Bathurst - via Wollondilly River

Distance: 340 km

Hume Motorway > Old Hume Highway, Wombeyan Caves Road >> Mittagong

Wombeyan Caves Road >> Wollondilly

Wombeyan Caves Road >> Wombeyan Caves

Wombeyan Caves Road > Abercrombie Road >> Oberon

O'Connell Road >> Bathurst

Bathurst to Brewarrina (and Bourke) - via Macquarie River

Distance: 717 km

Freemantle Road >> Gowan Road >> Lower Lewis Ponds Road >> Ophir Road > Lookout Road >> Million Creek

Burrendong Way >> Euchareena

Burrendong Way > Mitchell Highway >> Wellington

Arthurville Road >> Geurie

Mitchell Highway >> Narromine

Warren Road > Ellengarah Road >> Warren

Carinda Road > Billybingbone Road >> Carinda

Bogewong Road > Ginghet Road > Kamilaroi Highway >> Brewarrina & Bourke


Bourke NSW


Bourke, NSW, the legendary Darling River town in Outback Australia where it is easy to agree with famous Australian poet Henry Lawson when he wrote, "if you know Bourke, you know Australia" (1882); the iconic Darling River town such part of the fabric of outback Australia and is an RV’ers mecca for a true outback experience.

More than just an outback river town, Bourke is a region that, figurative, is a demarcation between the outback and the east; anything further inland is known as the 'Back o Bourke' which is a colloquial term deeply etched in Australian vernacular meaning to be a long way away from anything.

On the contrary, and this is probably what Henry Lawson meant, the further inland you go, the closer you get to the true essence of Australia.

Along the Darling River

The Darling River Run can be driven along the western or eastern sides of the river, but the following abridged version of the Darling River Run will highlight the preferred route that most travellers take.

Bourke to Louth

Travelling the Darling River Run from Bourke to Louth is normally via the Bourke-Wilcannia rd on the east of the river past Gundabooka NP. 

An alternative route is possible on the west as it passes through some wonderful red soil country and across the Warrego River.


Western Route (Preferred)

Highlight/s: The changing terrain from the unsealed road.

Road Type = Gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 125 km

Road/Routes:

  • Out through Nth Bourke
  • Take the Wanaaring/Tibooburra Rd 
  • Turn off at Pera Bore (21 km)
  • Head southeast: 104 km (Crossing over the Warrego after about 80km)

Alternate (Eastern Route)

Road Type = Gravel (dry weather road) - mostly

Distance: 99 km

Road/Routes: 

  • Bourke-Wilcannia Rd

Louth NSW


Louth, NSW, is the iconic Darling River town between Bourke and Tilpa. Visit Louth and connect with famous Australian poet Henry Lawson lived and worked for a period in and around Louth and referred to it as, 'a place that loved a drink, a party and a punt.'

Lawson's adage summed up the town and its people; his impressions from that period are even more relevant today if one is to experience the famous outback race event known as the Louth races whereby the normally sleepy Darling River hamlet swells by the thousands.

Unique to Louth is a remarkable and poignant structure known as 'The Celtic Cross'; an eight-metre high polished granite cross dominates the cemetery on the hill overlooking the town. Louth Thomas Matthews' founder constructed the monument as a perpetual memorial to his wife, Mary Mathews, who died in 1866.

So skillfully engineered and positioned, this granite monument that at sunset each day reflects the sun's light into the village of Louth.

Louth to Tilpa

The Louth to Tilpa section along the Darling is one of the best with two great options; the east route provides some great access to the river along the way while the western route passes some great historic properties like Dunlop Station, Idalia Station, and Kallara Station. (all providing camping and farm stay facilities)


Western Route (Preferred)

Highlight/s: Dunlop Station and Kallara Station

Road Type = Gravel (Dry weather road)

Distance: 89 km

Road/Routes:

  • Take MR68A from Louth <> Tilpa: 89k m

Alternate (Eastern Route)

Road Type = Gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 92 km

Road/Routes:

  • Bourke-Wilcannia Rd

Tilpa, NSW


Tilpa, NSW, located on the Darling River's western bank, is a must for a stopover, whether you have a few hours or a few days for camping and fishing on the Darling River. Henry Lawson referred to the area of the west as "Tis said the land out west is grand, do not care who says it", ('The Paroo River' 1893). Mr Lawson certainly knew how to sum up the outback eloquently, and those that venture down the Darling River and through Outback NSW cannot help but agree, the land out west IS grand.

The old pub is a true classic and has been welcoming travellers and locals for over 100 years. These timber and corrugated iron pub walls display the graffiti written by visitors who make a gold coin donation to the Royal Flying Doctor Service for the privilege. The graffiti makes for an intriguing read while having a cold beer and a chat with the locals and other travellers.

Tilpa to Wilcannia

With the choice of an eastern and western route, the Tilpa-Wilcannia section of the Darling River Run passes through some wonderful country of the Central Darling.

kallaraThe McClures call Kallara Station “the accessible outback” as it is central to the historic River Ports of Bourke and Wilcannia and the outback mining towns of Cobar and White Cliffs.

The eastern route passes through the Paroo-Darling National Park (and the wonderful Coaches and Horses Campsite) while the western route tracks through the Paroo-Darling conservation area.


Alternate (Western Route)

Road Type = Gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 129 km

Road/Routes:

  • Take MR68A from Tilpa <> Wilcannia: 129 km

Eastern Route (Preferred)

Highlight/s: Coaches & Horses campground

Road Type = Gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 145 km

Road/Routes:

  • Bourke-Wilcannia Rd <> Barrier H'way: (138 km)
  • Barrier Highway <> Wilcannia: (7 km)

Wilcannia, NSW


Wilcannia, the Darling River town on the Barrier Highway between Cobar and Broken Hill, is a mostly undisturbed port on the Darling River. Cross the bridge driving from Sydney to Broken Hill and turn either to your right or left when you enter the town, and you will be amazed at the richness of the architecture.

It is easy to see that Wilcannia was once a significant Outback NSW town and Darling Riverport and the remnants of a once-important inland port are evident. Some of the town's historic treasures include the National Trust classified old centre-lift bridge (1896), the beautiful 1880 post office, the Athenaeum Library (1883) and the impressive courthouse (1880), police station (1881), and the police residence (1880), which were all built of locally quarried sandstone and designed by James Barnet.

Wilcannia to Menindee


Two great routes for the run to Menindee from Wilcannia… at a good distance to experience the remoteness of Outback NSW.

The western side of the Darling is a popular route as it passes Nelia Gaari Station, a GREAT place to stay with some of the best Darling River camping - helped as it is at the upper reach of the water that is backed up from the Menindee Lakes.


Western Route (Preferred)

Highlight: Nelia Gaari

Road Type = Gravel (Dry weather road)

Distance: 158 km

Road/Routes:

  • South along Barrier Highway: 8 km
  • Right onto SR10 <> Menindee Rd: 142 km
  • High Darling Rd <> Pooncarie-Wentworth Rd: 7 km
  • Menindee Rd <> Menindee: 1 km

Alternate (Eastern Route)

Road Type = gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 154 km

Road/Routes:

  • Reid St out of Wilcannia MR68B <> Menindee Rd: 139 km
  • Menindee Rd <> Menindee: 15 km

Menindee, NSW


Menindee and the fantastic Menindee Lakes is a beautiful central Darling River destination where you can experience the best of what the Darling River can offer.

An iconic Darling River town one hour south-east of Broken Hill, Menindee is a perfect base to explore the Darling River, the Lakes and one of the best National Parks in Outback NSW, Kinchega National Park.

Discover also that the beautifully penned 'The Man from Snowy River' by Banjo Paterson is an immortal Australian poem there is a line, "There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup".

While many assume it was the famous Melbourne Cup referred to, it is the Presidents Cup at Menindee.

There is a story to tell and something to learn in most outback towns, and Menindee on the Darling River is no exception.

The run from Menindee to Broken Hill is an easy 115km of the sealed road with some incredible vistas along the way, especially once you cross Stevens Creek and start to get a view of the ‘Line O Load’ of Broken Hill.