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Top 10 Things to Do on a Brisbane to Adelaide Road Trip (via Broken Hill)

A road trip from Brisbane to Adelaide through outback New South Wales is no mean feat, but it’s one that richly rewards travellers. Tick off these ten amazing things to do along the way.
Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip
Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip. Image: Adam Ford

Flying between the Queensland and South Australian capitals — a distance of roughly 2,000 kilometres — will take you (if all goes according to plan and the airline plays ball) three hours.

Driving, on the other hand, will take you a whole lot longer: around eight days if you follow our suggested itinerary. The trade-off is that you’re going to see some incredible parts of the Australian outback, explore regional cities and towns that are packed with character, and no doubt have myriad adventures along the way. And in our book, that’s worth the investment in time and petrol money!

Brisbane to Adelaide Road Trip (via Broken Hill) | Top Oz Tours – Google My Maps

At roughly 2,000 kilometres, a road trip from Brisbane to Adelaide is no mean feat, but it’s one that richly rewards travellers. Here’s a suggested Brisbane to Adelaide road trip itinerary, and a checklist of ten top things to do along the way. https://topoztours.com.au/brisbane-to-adelaide-road-trip-itinerary/

Your other main cost will, of course, be accommodation. Country motels are good value at around $100 a night, but if you’re making like a turtle and have your home on your back (i.e. a caravan, motorhome, or just a swag in the boot) like we did, even better! Many outback towns provide free camping sites or allow camping at local showgrounds (the latter generally attracts a small fee, but usually comes with power and water). Pub camping is also on the rise, and what’s not to love about bedding down for nix in exchange for buying a meal?

Here are ten top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip. Ensure you have adequate car insurance in place before heading off.


Ten of the best things to do in Australia

Australia Tours, Activities & Attractions


1. Explore gardens galore in Toowoomba

Head west from Brissy through the neighbouring city of Ipswich and on towards Toowoomba, which sits on top of the Great Dividing Range. At 700 metres above sea level, cool climate plants and trees thrive here — filling the city’s parks and civic gardens with colour and creating a wonderfully European feel. Highlights include the 25-hectare Queens Park and Botanic Gardens — home to an endangered Wollemi pine (one of the rarest trees on the planet), and the Ju Raku En Japanese Garden — a tranquil blend of waterfalls and streams, ponds with islands and bridges, stone lanterns, and maturing maple trees. It’s a lovely spot for a wander.

Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip
Queens Park, Toowoomba. Image: Adam Ford

Special mention also to Laurel Bank Park — 4.5 hectares of fabulous floral design just shy of the city centre. Check out the sensory garden of strongly scented flowers and herbs.

2. Meet the famous ‘Goondiwindi grey’

Gunsynd is a name you may be vaguely familiar with before you arrive in Goondiwindi on the Queensland/New South Wales border, 200 kilometres west of Toowoomba. But trust us, you’ll certainly know a lot more about the gutsy ‘Goondiwindi Grey’ by the time you leave. This much-loved racehorse of the late 1960s and early 70s won 29 races from 54 starts (including a Cox Plate) and record prize money at the time. Owned by a Goondiwindi syndicate, the town’s favourite four-legged son is celebrated at the Gunsynd Museum in Bowen Street (in the same complex as the Visitor Information Centre), and by a memorial in Apex Park.

Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip
Gunsynd Memorial, Goondiwindi. Image: Adam Ford

One block down from the museum, you’ll clock the gorgeous Victoria Hotel (where the deal was done to purchase Gunsynd in 1969). The building dates back to the 1920s and melds a variety of architectural styles, including Art Deco and more than a touch of the Tudors. It’s hard to believe now, but just a decade or two ago this then dilapidated grand dame faced the wrecking ball; today, she embodies all the elegance of yesteryear.

3. Enjoy a soak in Moree

An hour’s drive south of Goondiwindi will bring you to Moree — something of an oasis for the weary road tripper. The Great Artesian Basin’s thermally heated, mineral-infused ground water bubbles to the surface across this region via springs and bores, and Moree makes good use of it for bathing purposes. The water is reputed to have healing properties, but even if it doesn’t, what’s not to love about a warm bath? Jump in at the newly renovated Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre, which has two therapeutic hot pools, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and a water park for the littlies. And if you want to be looking your absolute best as you delve deeper into the outback, the onsite Moree Artesian Wellness Centre offers a full suite of spa treatments.

Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip
Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre. Image: Destination NSW

Like Goondiwindi, Moree boasts some amazing period architecture. Bank Art Museum Moree (BAMM)occupies an imposing Edwardian-style former bank building (circa 1911) on the corner of Frome and Heber Streets and is renowned for its collection of Indigenous art (one of the most significant in regional NSW). It’s well worth a stop.

4. Learn some intriguing local history in Walgett

It’s a three-hour drive at a leisurely pace from Moree to the unassuming rural services town of Walgett. Drop by the Walgett Historical Society Museum, which is housed in the charming old Council Chambers building on Fox Street. It will give you a good understanding of the challenges that have long faced those living in remote regional communities like this one.

Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip
Walgett Historical Society Museum. Image: Adam Ford

Across the road from the museum stands the RSL Club — one of several regional sites picketed by the 1965 ‘Freedom Riders’ from Sydney University (headed by Indigenous student Charles Perkins) in a bid to highlight the incredibly poor living conditions faced by Aboriginal people in rural New South Wales. The sites were targeted for their segregation policies at the time. Times have changed, and today a soaring water tower mural on the edge of town celebrates the life of Indigenous musician and actor Jimmy Little.

Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip
Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip: Walgett water tower

From Walgett, you could take a 50-minute detour up to famous opal mining centre Lighting Ridge or continue heading south as per our itinerary. Either way, there’s a great free camping area on the southern side of town with ample shaded parking, a well-maintained amenities block, and interpretive boards that share more of the town’s history.

5. Boogie with Bowie in Carinda

The state of Australia’s race relations was on singer David Bowie’s mind back in 1983 when he filmed the music clip for his hit single Let’s Dance at a pub in the tiny town of Carinda, 50 minutes’ drive south of Walgett. Watching the music clip now, it’s clear that Bowie was way ahead of his time on the issue. Today, the Carinda Hotel is a spiritual must-visit for fans, and a characterful spot to wet the whistle for everyone else. Cropped mullets and glitter boots are the dress code in October when the town hosts its annual Let’s Dance Festival. You can camp for free at the Carinda Hotel in exchange for purchasing a meal.

Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip
Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip: Carinda Hotel. Image: Adam Ford

6. Stand at the crossroads of the outback in Cobar

Continue south from Carinda, skirting around the Macquarie Marshes (renowned for their bird watching opportunities) and on to the town of Nyngan. Both Cumberdoon Way from Walgett and Carinda Road/Buckinguy Road from Carinda are sealed, but take it easy. The road is narrow and frequented by road trains. However, it’s a beautiful area. Ensure your tank is full before you start out.

Nyngan’s Rotary Park on the Bogan River makes a great picnic lunch stop, before hitting the Barrier Highway to Cobar (a distance of 130 kilometres). Along the route, the ground grows redder, the bush more stunted, and quotes like ‘I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore’ spring to mind. Welcome to the outback!

Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip
Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip: Bogan River, Nyngan

Located right in the centre of NSW and often referred to as the ‘crossroads of the outback’ Cobar is first and foremost a mining town. And if you were in any doubt about that, the towering, rust coloured Cobar sign on the side of what was once the Great Cobar Copper Mine will set you straight. Cobar has 150 years of mining history and a number of related attractions (including the excellent Great Cobar Heritage Centre (home to the Visitor Information Centre). However, to get a sense of what mining means to the town today, head up to the Fort Bourke Hill Lookout and gaze down into open cut New Cobar Gold Mine. It’s mind-blowingly big.

Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip
Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip: Cobar sign. Image: Adam Ford

Back towards town, the newly completed, million-dollar Miners Memorial in Cobar Miners Heritage Park commemorates all those who have lost their lives working in the industry. A traditional mine tag board displays the names of each of those who would never ‘tag off’.

7. Drive beneath big skies to Wilcannia

Vast flat topography and endless blue skies characterise the drive west from Cobar to Wilcannia (just on three hours), and on to Broken Hill (two hours). Watery mirages on the horizon make promises that can never be fulfilled and dust spouts travel across the landscape like mini tornados. Fill up at every opportunity; this is not a spot to push your fuel light boundaries.

Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip
Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip. Image: Destination NSW

Wilcannia made national headlines during the height of the pandemic over the outbreak of covid amongst its Indigenous population. It’s a quiet town, but one with plenty of character. Pieces of imposing sandstone architecture hark back to a past when paddle steamers plied their trade along the Darling River between here and Bourke. Take in views of the river from Baker Park, then head across Reid Street to Cooee for Coffee — a gorgeous social enterprise cafe. The project is providing work experience opportunities for local women, both here and in Bourke.

Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip
Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip: Wilcannia Post Office

8. Admire the heritage streetscape in Broken Hill

To date, Broken Hill is the one and only Australian town to be inscribed, in its entirety, onto the National Heritage List — and as you cruise into town along Argent Street, it’s certainly not hard to see why. But don’t confine your exploration to the main drag. Across this amazing outback city, split right down the middle by a towering mullock heap (waste mining rock), you’ll discover beautifully preserved heritage cottages and classic corner pubs — all testament to a largely prosperous century of mining in the region.

Watch our video of ten top things to do in Broken Hill:

10 Amazing Things do Do in Broken Hill, NSW | Travel Guide

★ Hit SUBSCRIBE for more amazing travel ideas! ★Welcome to Top Oz Tours’ (formerly The Big Bus) YouTube Channel. In this video, we take you to the fabulous o…

There are endless ways to spend your time in Broken Hill. Start by visiting the excellent Visitor Information Centre to find out what’s happening around town. Next, take in the amazing views across the city and surrounding landscape from the emotive Line of Load Lookout and Miners Memorial. Leave time to visit some of the city’s many museums and galleries — including that of the late Pro Hart — one of Australia’s best loved contemporary artists. A drive out to neighbouring Silverton — the original one-horse town — is another highlight. And finally, soak up the arid beauty of an outback sunset in the company of the stunning Living Desert Sculptures.

Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip
Living Desert Sculptures, Broken Hill. Image: Destination NSW

9. Discover Burra’s Cornish connection

The drive from Broken Hill across the South Australian border and down to Adelaide takes roughly five hours, but a great spot to break the trip is the heritage mining town of Burra. In the mid 1800s, this was home to the largest metal mine in the country and produced around 5% of the world’s copper utilising the expertise of migrating miners from Cornwall. Remnants of the Cornish mining era — including an open cut pit and several stone structures — are still visible today and have earned the town its own place on the National Heritage List. Purchase a Burra Heritage Passport to access the locked mine precinct, along with several other historical sites.

Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip
Market Square Museum, Burra. Image: Adam Ford

Having returned your passport key, spend some time exploring Burra’s town centre. Stone buildings, quaint bridges, and a babbling waterway framed by trim gardens give it a feel not too dissimilar to a Cornish village. And yes, the local bakery does a mean pasty!

10. Explore the village of Hahndorf

You could cruise straight into Adelaide from here, or extend your roadie just a little and travel through the Adelaide Hills to Hahndorf. This leafy village with Germanic roots is one of South Australia’s top attractions and offers some fabulous experiences. Do a self-guided walking tour of the heritage streetscape, explore the home and studio of early-to-mid 20th century landscape artist Hans Heysen, or drop by the home of family-run Beerenberg Farm — one of Australia’s most popular makers of jams and condiments.

Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip
Top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip. Image: The Lane Vineyard, Hahndorf

Just north of Hahndorf, The Lane has to be one of the most beautiful vineyards in the country. Enjoy a guided tasting of its acclaimed vintages or settle in for a long lunch at the stylish restaurant.

This post was published thanks to Rollin Insurance.

Browse our range of Australia tours and experiences here.

Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of top things to do on a Brisbane to Adelaide road trip? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Travelling through remote parts of Australia is an amazing experience, but it requires careful planning and preparation. Make sure you seek the advice of the relevant local authorities when arranging your trip.

Cover image: Destination NSW. Additional images: Bigstock

Adam Ford

About the writer

Adam Ford is editor of Top Oz Tours & Travel Ideas, and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger, and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.

 

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