From Bourke to Lightning Ridge to Cunnamulla

The outback! A mysterious world that exists in the inner reaches of Australia, far from the famed coastline. An area that many have heard of, but have never ventured to see. Hours inland, it is arguably the true Australia.

If you have the time, and preferably a private vehicle, it is worth the journey. Travelling to the far corners of New South Wales and Queensland is unforgettable and unique, filled with red soil, Australian fauna and country spirit.

The outback is almost incomprehensibly big, so it is impossible to talk about it all in one article. This article will focus on Bourke, Louth, Lightning Ridge and Cunnamulla. These cities are all within the same area (for the outback) and are definitely worth a visit.


Back o’ Bourke is the old Australian saying, meaning very far away. Bourke is about 9 hours drive north-west from Sydney. It sits along the Darling River and here is where you truly start to see the outback. Red soil, kangaroos and emus everywhere, and friendly faces.

Highlights of Bourke

  • Back O’ Bourke Exhibition Centre
  • Drinking Back O’ Bourke sodas
  • Darling River Cruise
  • Driving to the top of Mount Oxley
  • Poetry on a Plate
  • Old Bourke Wharf
  • Eating at Diggers on the Darling and pies from Morrall’s Bakery


Every August this small town hosts the Louth Races. The event of the year for Australians from the country. Though horse races aren’t condoned anymore, it is an experience seeing so many farmers converge on this dirt race track. People fly in from all across the country, landing in privately owned light air crafts and helicopters. They also make a competition for the best dressed lady & gentleman with Fashion on the Field. Gather round to watch the women and men walk around in their best outfit (that probably took a year in planning).

Lightning Ridge

Lightning Ridge is a strange place. The name is said to have originated from when people found a body of a farmer, his dog and 200 sheep which had been struck by lightning. Now it is world famous for opal mining, especially the black opal.

Many Europeans have migrated from across the globe to bid for a chance at making their fortune with opal mining here. No one reveals their wealth here, to make sure other miners stay off the scent of their riches.

If this isn’t good enough reason to visit, there are free hot springs in the middle of town open all hours of the day and night.


  • Enjoying the two free hot Artesian bore baths
  • Walking around the opal mines
  • Visiting the flea market where you can find many gems, antique finds and interesting people

Cunnamulla, Queensland

Cunnamulla is the only place on this list in the neighbouring state of Queensland. In the far south-west corner of Queensland, you can visit this enigma of a town. Famous for the Cunnamulla Fella, a song about the true people of the bush.

The centre of town has a statue in Cunnamulla Fella’s honour and every year they through a festival in his name – The Cunnamulla Fella Festival, held every August. Come here to enjoy the ‘carnie’ food, rides and rodeo show. The main attraction is PBR – or Professional Bull Riders.