Loading

Embrace the journey to Lightning Ridge

Scenic Drive, CumborahCredit: Destination NSW

Scenic outback drive in Cumborah, near Lightning Ridge.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Embrace the journey to Lightning Ridge

Scenic Drive, Cumborah Credit: Destination NSW

Scenic outback drive in Cumborah, near Lightning Ridge.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Hashtags #feelnsw #newsouthwales

Pack your sense of adventure and buckle up for a road trip to the outback New South Wales opal-mining town of Lightning Ridge. You could devote at least a week to tackle this thrilling 1,500km-return journey from Sydney to the state’s northwest, ideally with a travel buddy or two to share the driving — and the road trip memories, for this adventure is as much about the journey as the destination. With sealed roads all the way, you can undertake this trip in any type of vehicle.

Day 1: Get back to nature in the mountains

Embrace the adrenaline rush as you set off from Sydney on a new adventure, heading 90 minutes west to Katoomba in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains. Soak up the sweeping views of the Three Sisters rock formation at the Echo Point Lookout, go for energising bushwalks, and browse antiques stores to your heart’s content. After a day out exploring, savour a smart meal along with the old-world charm at Darley’s Restaurant, set in a century-old house that forms part of Lilianfels Resort and Spa. Treat yourself to a night at this country-luxe resort, too, or opt for one of Katoomba’s many cosy guesthouses.

Day 2: Sip cool-climate wines in the Central West

Indulge in a lie-in, with only two hours to drive to your next stop in the laidback wine region of Mudgee. Get a taste for the region’s terroir at the likes of Logan Wines, one of the first wineries you’ll spot on your way into Mudgee, where you can sip whimsically named cool-climate wines as you take in the superb vineyard views; or at First Ridge, closer to town, which has a striking cellar door built out of shipping containers. You’ll also find plenty of boutique shops, cafés, and restaurants on a relaxing stroll through Mudgee’s attractive town centre — try Eltons for a casual dinner in the atmospheric setting of the 1896 Eltons Pharmacy building. While you’re out and about, pick up some gourmet nibbles from High Valley Mudgee Cheese Co to feast on during the next day’s drive.

Day 3: Enjoy an art deco ramble along the way

Admire the changing landscape as you drive deeper into the countryside along the Castlereagh Highway to the small town of Coonamble, 264km north of Mudgee, and spend your afternoon breathing in the fresh country air as you admire the town’s art deco architectural influences. Don’t miss Outback Arts, a small gallery where works by local artists provide intriguing insights into Country NSW life.

Alternatively, take an adventurous detour to Warrumbungle National Park via the Newell Highway and stretch your legs on one of the park’s many walking trails. If it’s a clear night, consider camping here to marvel at the stars in the clear night sky in Australia’s first Dark Sky Park.

Logan Wines, Mudgee Credit: Destination NSW

The scenic grounds at Logan Wines, Mudgee.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Logan Wines, Mudgee Credit: Destination NSW

The scenic grounds at Logan Wines, Mudgee.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Warrumbungle National Park Credit: Destination NSW

Man watching the sun set over Warrumbungle National Park.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Warrumbungle National Park Credit: Destination NSW

Man watching the sun set over Warrumbungle National Park.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Day 4–5: Uncover the many attractions of Lightning Ridge

Rise with the sun as the local farmers do to make the most of your day. It’s only 190km (or two hours’ drive) to Lightning Ridge from Coonamble (or just over three hours from Warrumbungle National Park), but once settled into one of the town’s holiday parks or bed and breakfasts (Sonja’s Bed and Breakfast is a popular choice) you’ll find plenty to do in ‘The Ridge’.

Gain a fascinating insight into the town’s opal mining heritage on an entertaining excursion with Outback Opal Tours, have a laugh trying your hand at fossicking, or treat yourself to a sparkling memento of your visit from a local gem shop. You’ll also discover a quirky arts scene to explore — don’t miss the John Murray Gallery and Chambers of the Black Hand, which features engravings in an underground mine. Step back into the town’s early days at the Heritage Cottage museum housed in a 1932 miner’s hut, or even further back into the age of the dinosaurs at the Australian Opal Centre, where you can view rare fossils, and learn how to cut and polish an opal.

After tucking into a comforting meal, such as a traditional pasta dish at Piccolo Italian Restaurant, seize the opportunity to unwind in one of Lightning Ridge’s naturally heated bore baths. The outdoor pools, which have no entry fee, maintain a temperature of between 40 to 50°C and are open 24 hours a day, so you can enjoy a tranquil soak under a twinkling canopy of stars during a night-time visit.

Day 6: Discover something new on an alternative route back

Enjoy fresh country vistas on the drive back to Sydney by heading east on the Kamilaroi Highway, just before you reach the town of Walgett on the Castlereagh Highway. Roughly half-way to Sydney, the vibrant agricultural town of Gunnedah makes a good place to spend the night.

Allow time along the way to explore the country towns of Wee Waa (Australia’s cotton capital) and Narrabri, where you can tour astronomy exhibits and ogle the six 22m-high antennas used for radio astronomy at the Paul Wild Observatory. When you arrive in Gunnedah, visit its historical monuments and discover why this place had such a profound impact on local poets, or pop into the Gunnedah Visitor Information Centre for tips on where to chalk up a classic Australian holiday experience by spotting wild koalas. After a long day on the road, enjoy modern comforts at the recently refurbished Gunnedah Hotel, which comes with the added convenience of an excellent bistro.

Day 7: Toast to a great adventure in the oldest wine region in the state

Break up the 440km drive from Gunnedah to Sydney on the main highways with a scenic detour through the Hunter Valley (turn off the New England Highway onto Hermitage Road at Belford), which only adds a few kilometres to the journey. Indulge in a smart winery lunch showcasing Hunter Valley produce at the likes of European bistro-style restaurant Muse Kitchen at Keith Tulloch Wine in Pokolbin, where mountain views are the perfect accompaniment to the seasonal menu which may feature anything from a tender beef fillet with gourmet pine mushroom Diane sauce and decadent goose-fat potatoes to pan-roasted market fish with squid-ink risotto. Grab a few bottles of wine from the on-site cellar door to take with you, and feel the fond memories of your trip rush back when you open a bottle back at home.

Nettleton's First Shaft Lookout, Lightning Ridge Credit: Destination NSW

Couple watching the sun setting in the outback at Nettleton's First Shaft Lookout, Lightning Ridge.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Nettleton's First Shaft Lookout, Lightning Ridge Credit: Destination NSW

Couple watching the sun setting in the outback at Nettleton's First Shaft Lookout, Lightning Ridge.

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Keith Tulloch Wines, Pokolbin Credit: Destination NSW

Scenic view of Keith Tulloch Wines, Pokolbin

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

Keith Tulloch Wines, Pokolbin Credit: Destination NSW

Scenic view of Keith Tulloch Wines, Pokolbin

#feelnsw #newsouthwales

MORE INSPIRATIONAL STORIES

More Inspirational Stories

ALL ASSETS FROM THE DESTINATION NSW MEDIA CENTRE ARE FOR EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY AND MUST BE USED IN ACCORDANCE WITH OUR TERMS AND CONDITIONS.


For all non-editorial usage, please
visit the Destination NSW Content Library.

REGISTER
NOW

Access assets curated for media and content creators.

For all non-editorial usage, please
visit the Destination NSW Content Library.

Already have an account?
2 + 0 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.

Permission Request


Destination NSW wants to access your Destination NSW Media Centre account.


This application will:

  • View your basic account information
  • View your email address
  • View your phone number, if provided
  • View your street address, if provided
  • View basic information about your organization, if provided
  • View your site usage
  • View your asset download activity

This access will help Destination NSW manage copyright owner rights, provide you with digital assets, keep you updated with new information and improve your user experience.


Do you agree to allow this access? If yes, click the REGISTER button.


You can unsubscribe at any time.

Permission Request

Destination NSW wants to review your registration for your Destination NSW Media Centre account.

This review will:

  • View your basic account information
  • View your email address
  • View your basic information about your organisation, if provided
  • View your site usage
  • View your asset download activity

This will assist Destination NSW manage copyright owner rights, provide you with digital assets, keep you updated with new information and improve your user experience.


By clicking REGISTER, you agree that you have read and agree to the TERMS & CONDITIONS and Destination NSW's PRIVACY POLICY


You can unsubscribe at any time.