NSW Australia Outback to Coast Trip

Jun 8th, 2009, 03:45 PM
  #1  
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NSW Australia Outback to Coast Trip

As part of our Australian holiday, my SO and I, after several days in Sydney, have about five days before we end up in Byron Bay. Originally, we were going to do a rustic type of tour with an outfitter who likely went under, so now we want to either replicate some sort of tour on our own that makes sense. We may rent a car (although that if fairly costly at about $900 for the 4-5 days). We are thinking of spending part of the time (maybe two days) in the Blue Mountains than hitting some other places...ie maybe Lightning Ridge although that may be too far, before ending up in Byron Bay. (Note, we can also extend our time a bit in Byron Bay.... after Byron Bay we are going to the Gold Coast for a Marathon, and then he goes onto Brisbane and then to GBR and also the Red Center, unfortunately, I have to return to Sydney and fly back to the U.S.!). Anyway, any must sees that could work with our time frame in the NSW Outback? I've been researching on line and there's so much information that it's getting a bit overwhelming, so I may try and find a good book to help me. Basically, the tour we WERE going to take was about five days, and went like this: DAY ONE: Depart from Sydney, head west over the Great Dividing Range stopping for hike in the Blue Mountains., Lunch in town of Sofaia (old mining town) where group met some locals to hear history, then onto Hill End to try gold panning… with alternative of traveling more directly and tasting wine in the Mudgee district. and an Overnight at Eulin Sheep and Cattle station, Coonabarabran. DAY TWO:
Breakfast at Eulin. Then activities: Wildlife trek; sheep shearing, then over to:
Warrumbungle National Park for mountain climbing. Then to frontier mining town of Glengarry with beers in the “fair dinkum” bush pub and meeting yarn spinners.
Overnight: The Glengarry Hilton bush pub and the bush hotel (outside). DAY THREE: Camp breakfast then drive to Lightning Ridge (home of the black opal) for an underground mining experience. Meeting with Aboriginal elder and talk. Finish day by relaxing in hot springs and Aussie BBQ and bonfire with locals. Overnight in the miner cabins or re-vamped train carriage. DAY FOUR: Natural hot bath and camp breakfast. Travel up to Bingara (country town), stopping for picnic lunch and learning to throw boomerangs. Overnight at country hotel. DAY FIVE: 3 hour horse ride through magnificent mountain country . then picnic lunch and head for the coast, arrive in Byron Bay.
Basically, this tour sounded like lots of fun, but as I mentioned, believe they went under, and we don't want to spring for a really expensive luxury tour, and we'd like to experience some authentic things. Although, we won't have the local contacts that a tour organizer has. I do still think we should rent a car so we have more flexibility, as I fear, if we are just using trains and buses, our options will be a lot more limited, but I'm open to suggestions and whatever anyone thinks would be a valuable tool to help me plan this part of our itinerary!

Thanks,

Valerie
Valerie427 is offline  
Jun 8th, 2009, 06:21 PM
  #2  
 
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Posts: 4,447
Just a comment on car hire Valerie - you should be able to get a good deal and nowhere near the $900 you mention. I've just tried www.driveaway.com.au and whilst I had to guess dates and your age etc they came up with a Toyota Corolla for about $235.00 for 5 days, with pick up in Sydney and drop off in Byron Bay.
stormbird is offline  
Jun 9th, 2009, 02:48 AM
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There's some upside to the operator going under Valerie whilst also obviously some downside seeing as you were looking forward to it.

By upside I mean that tour would have certainly had you covering a lot of territory, perhaps too much in just five days and just as an example, to have made Sofala for lunch on day one you would not have had much time on the ground in the Blue Mountains.

Whilst northwest NSW has some interesting country and Opal fields part of the character, the outback it is really not though still semi remote.
The rest of the upside is that there is no reason you cannot do something similar, Blue Mountains, old mining sites, meeting locals, horse riding etc. and probably do it a lot cheaper than with a tour/guide.

You'll find locals off the beaten track a hospitable lot and then you have local Visitor Information Centres who'll have info on local tours and meeting with indigenous folk.
What you do need to do though is have a look at a map and then use a site like www.travelmate.com.au or www.nrma.com.au that will help you with assessing driving distances and times.

Maybe you would want to start with making the Blue Mountains part of your Sydney time and if so, make it last day so you leave in your hire car and spend half a day or whatever you want there before moving on to places like Bathurst [Mt. Panorama] and up to Sofala, perhaps onto Mudgee for the evening as far more accommodation options there.

But on accommodation, taking an inland route you'll find plenty of country town pubs of great character and cheap if basic accommodation and no need to book ahead and so in planning out a route, it can be something like just look ahead an hour or so mid afternoon and consider where in middle of nowhere you'll be!

I reiterate on thinking it'll be a stretch/rush to head too far inland and there's some great country about by heading back to the coast a bit from Mudgee area and using the New England Highway that follows the New England Ranges up through NSW, major towns/cities being Tamworth, Armidale, Glen Innes and Tenterfield, the lower reaches of the New England Hwy having Scone which arguably is thoroughbred horse capital country of Australia and not far away you have the rugged Barrington Tops region.

Meandering about a bit as you head north you'll find a lot of smaller towns with lovely pubs and also plenty of farm stays options and horse riding opportunities either on farms or as a separate activity, there even being overnight rides/camping possibilities.

"Tenterfield Saddler" a song you masy know by Peter Allen if you know of him? - that's Tenterfield and you could from there head down to the coastal region and take a route towards the Tweed River Valley from a town called Kyogle and into Nimbin which is hinterland for Byron Bay region.
Alternately, you could from Armidale take the Waterfall Way all the way through to Grafton on the Pacific Highway or head off for Belligen and down to the Pacific Hwy south of Coffs Harbour to give you some more coastal opportunities.

So many different possibilities and whilst it is different to further inland, possibly a lot better in most peoples eyes, it is certainly lovely country.

If you get keen about farm stays, just google the name of any of the key towns followed by farm stays and you'll find heaps of links.
Bushranger is offline  
Jun 13th, 2009, 03:53 PM
  #4  
 
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You need to consider car-hire restrictions on unsealed roads, if you are planning to go through Sofala and Hill End to Mudgee - or some other cross country roads.
margo_oz is offline  
Jun 13th, 2009, 09:15 PM
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Going via Hill End to Mudgee would be heading further west some and certainly auto hire companies do have sealed road only restrictions unless you pay a lot more for a 4WD.

Heading north from Bathurst, the road through Sofala to Iford is OK and then you can choose to take either a more direct route up to Mudgee or a slightly longer one that'll take you through a couple more smaller country towns, Kandos and Rylstone. nice country drives either way.

Download Google Earth if you have not it already and it's a great aid to see type of countryside of different routes.

If you're interested in a driver/guide to do something like you were thinking of, depending on when it was planned I might be able to put you in touch with a guy who could be available.
Bushranger is offline  
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