The Hinterland of New South Wales

The Hinterland of New South Wales

Petrol Stations at the Hinterland
Petrol Stations at the Hinterland

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After 95 days in lockdown due to COVID-19 in New South Wales, we finally had the chance to travel again, and we decided to travel to the Hinterland of New South Wales. We were so excited to finally see something new again, especially as traveling within the state had been allowed for the past three weeks.

We had waited those three weeks because we wanted to see how the COVID-19 situation would develop. Plus, we were not exactly keen to be among lots of people again, i.e. in bigger places or cities.

So, our decision to travel to the hinterland was perfect. As much as we liked it in Jervis Bay, we could hardly wait for our journey to continue. So, we repacked our stuff and got Putu ready to roll. We planned to head out in the early morning of the 20th of June, and had two weeks before we had to be in Sydney.

But there was still a difficult task in front of us before we could hit the road again.

Our Family in Lockdown
Our Family in Lockdown

We had to say goodbye to our neighbor’s dogs Bear and Marley, for whom we had cared for twice as house sitters.  For the past 95 days we walked them almost daily.  Often twice a day! We played, cuddled, and built up a very deep bond with them. 

Marley and Bear
Marley and Bear

And little Ella, an adorable Cocker Spaniel puppy from another neighbor, who we had walked almost daily for the last month. She had stolen our hearts, and saying goodbye was more than hard and very tearful.

Ella my love
Ella my love

Two days on the coast

Before we journeyed out into the hinterland, we wanted to spend a couple more days on the coast. And since summer had turned into winter in those 95 days, buying a warm blanket was also on our to do list.

A blanket was quickly found and we spent the first night back in our campervan between Kiama and Shellharbour cozy and warm. We were so overjoyed about our regained freedom!

Our first morning back on the road will never be forgotten. We drove to a lookout that had an excellent view of the Cathedral Rocks and ate our breakfast there. Oh, how we missed this! To be able to set up our camping table and chairs wherever we wanted! While we were enjoying our coffee, cereal, and especially the view, we saw dolphins in the ocean!

Cathedral Rocks
Cathedral Rocks

On our last beach walk in Jervis Bay at Hyams Beach, we also saw dolphins. It had been a wonderful farewell for us, and to see dolphins here on the first morning of our trip meant a lot to us.

At Hyams Beach
At Hyams Beach
Hyams Beach
Hyams Beach

We Explore the Area

After breakfast, we left Putu and set out to explore the area on foot.

We stopped at Boneyard Beach, which is named after a surfing legend from Kiama.

Boneyard Beach
Boneyard Beach

But our real destination was Bombo Headland Quarry. From here, you have a very good opportunity to see whales. While we were unlucky, we were content with looking at the insane rock formations that piled up in front of us. We then took our time taking pictures of surfers at Bombo Beach, which we could see down below.

Bombo Headlands Rockformation
Bombo Headlands Rockformation
Bombo Headlands
Bombo Headlands
Surfer at Bombo Beach
Surfer at Bombo Beach

Hungry from our long walk, we went back to Putu and put our camping table and chairs back on the grassy meadow. Our vegetable couscous dish tasted so much better in the great outdoors.

Cathedral Rocks Lunch
Cathedral Rocks Lunch

We drove to Shellharbour and realized that we had been here before. So, we went to the North Beach and ended the day with a nice beach walk.

North Beach Shellharbour
North Beach Shellharbour

Tourist Drive 9

Now our real journey was about to begin! Our plan was to drive along Tourist Drive 9, which goes through Moss Vale, to take us to the Hinterland of New South Wales! We were excited and so happy about what was to come!

We drove to Goulburn, where we photographed the Big Merino, but didn’t spend much time there. The Big Merino is a gigantic sheep in front of a merino shop, which is regularly photographed by passers-by, and thus has become a tourist attraction itself.

Big Merino
Big Merino

The further we drove, the less traffic we saw, and the villages became smaller. We liked that and it gave us a good taste for the upcoming days.

Gunning was our last stop of the day. We had a delicious coffee at Merino Café and made ourselves comfortable relatively early at the free campground. It was quiet there, something that we don’t often have since we mostly stay at rest stops. Since many rest stops are located directly or in the immediate vicinity of the highway, you can hear the nocturnal trucks buzzing past all night.

Gunning
Gunning
Gunning Mural
Gunning Mural

The next morning was similar to the previous day, but without the spectacular views. After our breakfast, we stopped briefly in Yass, and after a shower at a gas station, we continued to lumber down the road.

In the winter it gets dark early and we try to avoid driving in the dark. Dawn and dusk are the most dangerous times for car journeys in Australia because the wildlife is very active. During our travels here we have seen so many dead kangaroos on the side of the roads. It is so sad. That is why our days were always so short, and we tried to arrive to our destinations by 5 p.m.

The King in Parkes

Have you ever heard of Parkes?

Parkes is located 5 hours from Sydney and three hours from Canberra, along the Newell Highway, NSW’s main inland route.

The Wiradjuri people have lived here for more than 40,000 years and their culture is still preserved in the community. The language, for example, is still taught in the local schools.

But we became aware of Parkes because of two other things.

We had read that there is an Elvis Presley Museum here and that Elvis festivals are held annually! The festival takes place in January and the small village is flooded with over 25,000 fans.  Mostly Aussies dressing up as Elvis.

We made it to the Elvis Museum
We made it to the Elvis Museum

As it was late in the day, we decided to come back the following morning so that we could visit the museum in peace.

Tip: the museum, which is called The King’s Castle Elvis Exhibit, is in the Henry Parkes Center. There is free parking and admission costs $10 p.p. The Parkes Motor Museum is also included in that price.

Elvis Museum
Elvis Museum
Elvis Sunglasses
Elvis Sunglasses
Motor Museum
Motor Museum

Putu and his Big Brothers

We spent the night again at a rest stop and it was really loud this time! At night we woke up because we heard strange noises. What was that? Was someone in danger? A rasping sound, then something that sounded like quick steps which was followed by an indefinable sound. At first, we didn’t dare to look out our windows. Then we became a little more courageous. But we couldn’t see anything through the condensation on the windows. Should we go outside? While we weighed our options, we heard the noise more clearly. Cows???

We peaked out of the campervan door and saw trucks filled with sheep and cows. A little embarrassed, mostly because we got scared, we could laugh about it in the end!

However, we preferred our adventure in New Zealand more, where we woke up in the middle of roaming cows.

After a sleepless night, the next morning we found Putu parked between large trucks. Unfortunately, I was so tired and didn’t think about taking a photo. Because it looked really funny. Our little camper Putu, wedged between his big brothers the trucks.

CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope

Another highlight that Parkes has to offer is The Dish! It is also known as CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope.  

CSIRO
CSIRO

Just 20 km north of Parkes lies this unique landmark of Australia.

The telescope was built in 1961 and has a diameter of 61 meters. But it is not a telescope that you look through. The Dish receives signals, or radio waves, which are converted into images and with the help of computers.

Even though The Dish is not a NASA facility, it cooperates and assists NASA on a regular basis.

Did you know that two of the most famous sentences in NASA history, “One small step for man” as well as “Houston, we have a problem” were both transmitted through The Dish?!

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 it was closed to the public, like so many things that we wanted to do and see. But at least we could see it from the outside.  

The Dish
The Dish

While there we spotted two kangaroos. And before you say how boring, you’ve seen so many kangaroos: maybe, but here we saw our first Joey (a baby kangaroo) in the wild!

The Dish and Joey
The Dish and Joey

Before we continued our journey, we stopped briefly in the city center of Parkes.

On the main street we admired some of the works of the local artist Jac Clark, who immortalized the characteristic elements of the region on the walls of the buildings. The Public Art Trail shows pictures of Elvis (of course), Priscilla Presley, an astronaut, etc.

Parkes Street Art
Parkes Street Art

Tip: Be sure to take a selfie with the King in nearby Cooke Park!

The King
The King

After so much Elvis, it is time for a change.

Good Bye Elvis
Good Bye Elvis

Take a chance on me

Trundle is located about 55 km north-west of Parkes. And what does “Take a chance on me” have to do with Trundle? That’s right! Trundle is famous for its annual ABBA Festival! During the first weekend of May, everything in this small village is transformed into ABBA!

When we arrived in Trundle, we went to have a coffee at Butchers Brew Coffee.  It’s the only café in Trundle and the coffee tastes surprisingly excellent!

Trundle Cafè
Trundle Cafè

Trundle’s main street is lined left and right by a few shops. It appears that most of them have not survived the last months of coronavirus, because we see a lot of empty and vacant buildings. And there are hardly any cars on the road. Trundle might be throbbing with people in May, but clearly not in the remaining months.

As we look at the two main sights in town, I can’t help but hum the song “Take a chance on me”.  Even now you can feel the ABBA atmosphere in the air, and it is infectious!

The Main Attractions

Forbes Street is one of the main attractions. At 60 meters, it is one of the widest main streets in Australia. In a brochure we read that Trundle is a typical rural town.

Trundle Widest Street
Trundle Widest Street

The other main attraction in town is also right in front of our faces: The Trundle Hotel. This historical landmark was built in 1909 and has an 87m long wooden veranda. This is one of the longest wooden verandas in all of Australia. Obviously, we could not leave the country without seeing that!  ?

Trundle Hotel
Trundle Hotel

As it is slowly getting dark, we make our way back to Putu. We parked at the Trundle Golf Club and since we were playing golf there the next morning, we decided quite rebelliously to spend the night there. The ABBA song continued playing in my head.

“We can go dancing

We can go walking

As long as we’re together

Listen to some music

Maybe just talking

You’d get to know me better

’cause you know I’ve got

So much that I wanna do

When I dream I’m alone with you.

It’s magic”

It’s 5 p.m., and we’re drawing the curtains in our camper, and another beautiful day is coming to an end.

Putu at Trundle
Putu at Trundle

The Centre of New South Wales

Before we leave Trundle, we play a round of golf. We slept very well, and are rested and happy. On golf courses we just feel very comfortable. When we finish our round of golf, we meet Jenny. We spoke with her on the phone the day before to ask what a round of golf costs and where we can deposit the money because we couldn’t find an Honesty Box. We have a very nice chat with her. These places, which we didn’t actually have on our list, turn out to be great places. She gives us another tip on the way. “You have to visit Lightning Ridge! There are opal mines,” she says. We thank her and continue.

Trundle Golf Club
Trundle Golf Club

We randomly decided to stop in Tottenham to have a lunch break. This small town feels as though the world has stopped, and in just a few minutes we have seen everything. We are particularly happy about one thing though. Because without knowing it, we had made our stop in the center of New South Wales! 

Geographically speaking that is.

Tottenham The Center of New South Wales
Tottenham The Center of New South Wales

More Places in the Hinterland

We had come to acquire a taste of the Hinterland of New South Wales and were looking forward to seeing more.

Putu exploring the Hinterland
Putu exploring the Hinterland

Even if the small towns seem very similar, the journey is the destination. For hours we see nothing but nature, screaming cockatoos, and colorful parrots.

Birds of Australia
Birds of Australia

We decide to spend the night in Nyngan.  Nyngan is a sweet little town with exactly three attractions:  Big Bogan, Railway Museum and the Sheep Shed.

Nyngan Big Bogan
Nyngan Big Bogan
Railway Museum
Railway Museum
Nyngan Sheep Shed
Nyngan Sheep Shed

We stroll along the main street and then walk back to the parking lot, which doubles as a free campground.

Putu in Nyngan
Putu in Nyngan

There, a bright red VW bus grabs our attention. We approach and are greeted by Jim, a retiree who has travelled around Australia in his camper for seven years.  We have a nice chat and he recommends that we should drive up to Lightning Ridge. He was the second person who said that we should go to Lightning Ridge! We had never heard of Lightning Ridge before, and now have been told about it twice on the same day. Why not, we think. It’s great to be spontaneous again. We change our plans about going to Cobar and head to Lightning Ridge the next morning.

Nyngan Sunset
Nyngan Sunset

A Stop In-between

On the drive to Lightning Ridge, James screams “There is a golf course around a racetrack!”.  We’ve only made it to Coonamble and we are already making a stop. But of course, we can’t get past this golf course! We play 9-holes and pay a whopping $5 green fee! Spectacular. Beside the Coonamble Golf Club, there is also a jockey club where we park for the night.

Besides the unexpected stop and the huge amount of fun we had on the golf course, another highlight awaits us at night: we see the Milky Way with a thousand sparkling stars, as well as the Southern Cross. This constellation has a special meaning for us, as we saw it for the first time on our honeymoon in Mauritius.

Putu at Coonamble
Putu at Coonamble
Coonamble Watertower
Coonamble Watertower

Unknown Road

Today we are definitely going to make it to Lightning Ridge! We continue to pass more endless nothingness and enjoy the blue sky and the changing landscapes.

Hinterland drive
Hinterland drive

Our GPS indicates where we are at the moment: “unknown road” it says. We are in the real Hinterland of New South Wales, wohooooo!

On the Road Hinterland New South Wales
On the Road Hinterland New South Wales

The road conditions are surprisingly very good. With our windows rolled down, we let the wind blow through our hair.  “The Passenger” by Iggy Pop roars from our loudspeaker. How fitting! “I am a passenger. And I ride and I ride…”.

Beautiful Hinterland of New South Wales
Beautiful Hinterland of New South Wales

Lightning Ridge

Opal Mines
Opal Mines

We arrived in Lightning Ridge!

It is touristy here, and we are not used to that anymore. At first, we were a little overwhelmed. After the drive, which was as deserted as the towns that we’ve been in, this is a huge change. It should not be forgotten that we were in lockdown in Jervis Bay before the start of our road trip and lived there quite isolated for three months. Let’s see if we can get used to so many people again. And: what will it be like when we’re back in a big city like Sydney?!

Lightning Ridge is famous for its opal mines. It is here where the largest Black Opal was found, at a value of over 6 million dollars! Since then, many have tried to find their luck in Lightning Ridge and a real hunt for the stones is in full swing.

The street sign at the city entrance is one of the quirky things about a quirky town. The population is only marked with a question mark.

Lightning Ridge Population
Lightning Ridge Population

This is because many have come to find great wealth here, only to leave again after a few short years. Very few actually make it and find that extraordinary opal that brings the big money. To make it here you need to be carved from a special breed.

We realize right away that the characters here are quite unique.

The Colorful Doors

We find out what the colorful doors that we saw in the village mean while visiting the Information Center. These point out the way through the opal mines for tourists. There are a total of four tours which you can either book with a guide, or just drive yourself. The Red, Yellow, Blue and Green Car Door Explorer Tour. We buy a map of the tours at the Information Center for 1 Dollar and make our way to the first tour. One sentence in the description is highlighted, and we understand later why: Drive with caution on all roads & areas!

Warning
Warning

The Red Car Door Explorer Tour

We drive to the first red car door and immediately find ourselves on bumpy, unpaved roads. Hopefully Putu can get through here safely!

Red Car Door Tour
Red Car Door Tour

The Red Tour leads us through the old town of Wallangulla (Lightning Ridge) where the first settlement in 1906 was located.  Some homeowners have created really unique homes here. The tour leads us past some creative houses such as Ridge Castle, Amigo’s Castle and the Bottle House.

Ridge Castle
Ridge Castle

The Yellow Car Door Explorer Tour

At about one hour, the Yellow Tour lasts a little longer than the Red Tour and brings us into another strange world. We see the opal mines. There are countless holes in the earth, that are surrounded with wire for safety so that you don’t fall in; or worse, drive in! But the fences are barely visible and certainly would not be allowed in Germany.

Opal Mine Entry
Opal Mine Entry
Opal Mine Exit
Opal Mine Exit

Amid the opal mines we see some houses. They are mostly campervans, or huts made from corrugated iron. It is crazy how some people live for the dream of striking it rich.

Lunatic Lookout
Lunatic Lookout
Digging for Opals
Digging for Opals

The Green Car Door Explorer Tour

We enjoyed the Yellow Tour very much and since all the shops were already closed, we decided to do the Green Tour. The Green Tour was recommended to us if we wanted to see the sunset. We start the tour and see a few more opal fields. But nothing more. The roads are getting worse and worse and we are being tossed around in Putu.

After about a 20-minute drive, which seems like an eternity, we finally arrive at Nettleton’s First Shaft Lookout.  And we are just in time to marvel at the incredible sunset.

Enjoying the Sunset
Enjoying the Sunset
Nettleton's First Shaft Lookout
Nettleton’s First Shaft Lookout

The Blue Car Door Explorer Tour

The next morning, we start the last tour. Indicated as only about 10 minutes in length, this is a relatively short tour. We come back past opal mines and see a cactus garden on the way (admission fee). At the Opal Mine Adventure Walk-In Mine we stop and decide to have a look at a mine from the inside. It is only 10 meters underground, relatively small, and an informative video about Opal miners is shown. Our opinion: it was interesting to see, but we thought the 20 Dollars entry p.p. was overpriced.

Exploring an Opal Mine
Exploring an Opal Mine

We joke when exiting the mine that we should rent a pick and try our luck in the opal business.

Opal Hunters
Opal Hunters

Maybe we should have done it. Perhaps we would have found a black opal and also be millionaires!

Miner Career
Miner Career
Watch ya Noggin Mate
Watch ya Noggin Mate
James at Work
James at Work

Working underground is a tough job. So, it is good that Lightning Ridge has a free thermal bath in town which is open 24/7.

We were told that if you don’t take a dip in the Artesian Bore Baths, than you haven’t been in Lightning Ridge. We drive to the baths but decide against it. There are too many people in the water.

Bore Baths
Bore Baths

Note: we managed somehow to take a picture of the baths in a moment where all people were on the side of the pool so that it looks empty!

We have a look at Cooper’s Cottage and the Bottle House Museum from the outside and discover that we’ve done everything we wanted to see and do in Lightning Ridge. Why not move on, we think, and so we set out.

Coopers Cottage
Coopers Cottage
Bottle Museum
Bottle Museum

A relaxing night

Via Coonamble we head back towards Sydney and found a campsite site at the Armatree Hotel in a small village of the same name. The online reviews are very positive, the campsite is free of charge, and they even offer drinking water, toilets and a hot shower! This makes our camper hearts beat faster. And we decide to check it out.

We arrived and are enthusiastic about this place. The campsite is in a very clean meadow behind the hotel with extensive views of lush fields.

Outside the cozy pub, which was named “Best Bush Pub Winner” in 2018 and 2019, is a terrace with seating. This is also where the toilets and shower are located. We are incredibly happy, because it is secluded, which means that we will have a good and quiet night. The facilities are very clean and remain open at night. We decide to treat ourselves to a cool beer and a vegetarian pizza. We wanted to support the hotel as it provides such a wonderful place for campers.

Delicious Pizza at Armatree Hotel
Delicious Pizza at Armatree Hotel

Tip: even campers who need electricity are at the right address here. You get an excellent powered site for just 10 Dollars. And the Armatree Hotel is also dog friendly!

Armatree Hotel

Merrigal Street Armatree NSW.

Tel: +61 (0)2 6848 5805

Armatree Treat
Armatree Treat

The next morning, we enjoy our hot shower as well as our coffee before we move on to Dubbo.

You Have to Do What You Have to Do

A quick stop in Gilgandra, where we look at buildings constructed in the 1930s, is all we do on the way to Dubbo.

Architecture in Gilgandra
Architecture in Gilgandra
Gilgandra
Gilgandra
Putu in Gilgandra
Putu in Gilgandra

Because in Dubbo we have to do our laundry, get groceries, and recharge our SIM Card.  Even on the road, you have to do what you have to do!

In front of the laundromat, we witness a drug deal. The cafes are all closed.  The city isn’t quite what we imagined, and so we moved on to our campsite at the Terramungamine Reserve.

Terramungamine Reserve
Terramungamine Reserve

We are positively surprised how beautiful it is at the Reserve! The campsite is located directly on the Macquarie River.  It is freezing cold at night, but we have an unbelievably beautiful starry sky and wake to birds singing the next morning.

Putu at Terragumine Reserve
Putu at Terragumine Reserve

We go on a Safari

Today we go on a safari! When we were in Sydney, we had a weekend housesit where we learned about the Taronga Western Plains Zoo. At that time, we thought Dubbo was too far out of our way and we would never make it there. Well, never say never! It can happen fast that you find yourself in places that weren’t on your radar before. At the Taronga Western Plains Zoo you can drive your own car. The idea behind that is to make your visit feel like a safari. There are also bicycles and golf carts to rent. We went in with Putu and spent all day watching the animals.

Beautiful animals at Taronga Western Plains
Beautiful animals at Taronga Western Plains

The zoo seems to take very good care of the animals and it looks like the animals are very comfortable. For us, the many newborn animals are proof of this. 

Taronga is divided into multiple sections- for example, Australia, wild herds, and the savannah. 

We see cheetahs, hippos, elephants, zebras, giraffes, lions and so much more.

Dubbo Elephants
Dubbo Elephants

Be sure to take enough time for your visit- it is worth it!

Tip: Tickets can only be purchased online at the moment. If you are a “Zoo Friend”, i.e. you have bought an annual pass ($99 pp), admission is free. The annual pass also allows for free admission to the Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide zoos.

Opening hours: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Normal Entrance Fee: $48

Cost of bicycles and golf buggies:

$17 – all day standard bike

$24 – all day geared bike

$70 – three hours of golf buggy

Dubbo Zoo
Dubbo Zoo

Another Dubbo Highlight

We remain in the zoo and enjoy the animals until almost 4 p.m, when we reluctantly leave because the park is closing its doors. There is almost two hours to get to our next Dubbo highlight, which is basically around the corner from the zoo: the Dubbo Observatory.  We spend the time reading in our campervan and having something small to eat.

Dubbo Observatory
Dubbo Observatory

Its winter, and the sky gets dark at 5:00 p.m. Our anticipation is high and at 6.30 p.m. our stargazing tour starts. Although the website says that due to COVID-19 the maximum number of people is 10, there are a surprisingly number of visitors here. Even though the telescopes are constantly cleaned with disinfection, you are close to the other people and for a moment, I wish we were back in the hinterland.

We observe millions of stars through the telescopes. We look with fascination at Saturn and Titan, one of its moons, as well as Jupiter and 4 of its moons. The astronomer highlights Scorpio, Leo and some other constellations in the night sky.

Dubbo Observatory
Dubbo Observatory

He also explains to us how to tell the difference between the False Cross and the Southern Cross. The Southern Cross has 2 “pointing stars” and is a little smaller than the False Cross. One telescope is set up so that we can take close up pictures of the moon with our mobiles- incredible!

Dubbo Observatory Moon
Dubbo Observatory Moon

After about 1.5 hours, almost all the visitors are gone and the astronomer who accompanied us through the evening with explanations takes a photo of Eta Carinae Nebula with our camera through the main telescope!

Those who know us know how happy we were on this incredible day. It was an unforgettable experience for us!

Eta Carinae Nebula
Eta Carinae Nebula

Almost Back

After another relaxing night in the Terramungamine Reserve, we head for Bathurst.

On our way to Bathurst, we want to make two quick stops. Our two weeks since Jervis Bay are almost over, and we still want to spend one or two nights in the Blue Mountains before heading to Sydney for our next House Sit.

Wellington is our first stop, a sweet little town where we spoil ourselves with a coffee. We find the café Jespresso Coffee Co. It is a 2 in 1 store with sweet accessories, clothes by local designers and nice vintage furniture. Several seating areas are scattered throughout the shop, which are inviting for drinking coffee and catching up with friends.  What a great concept!

Wellington Cafè Jespresso
Wellington Cafè Jespresso
Jespresso
Jespresso

Unfortunately, the Wellington Caves are closed. Hopefully, the world will soon get to grips with this stupid virus.

We take the Burrendong Way (tourist drive 5) through Mumbil and Stuart Town and drive to the Mortimers winery, which is also closed. But the scenery is extremely beautiful we think, and so we stay positive. Because… that’s right! The journey is the destination.

Our second stop is in the city of Orange, which is larger than Wellington and other towns before. We like it a lot. With all the wineries surrounding it, and the many shops and cafés in town, Orange is a nice change.

Orange
Orange

After walking through the main street for a while, we need to continue to Bathurst.  We don’t know exactly how Bathurst is pronounced, and we call it “Bratwurst”, like the famous Nürnberg bratwursts back home! Delicious!

What you should not miss in Bathurst

The Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum has a unique and huge collection of fossils and minerals. The life’s work of the collector Warren Somerville is exhibited in a former school built in 1876. We pay our 15 Dollars entry per person and admire the collection, including the terrifying T-Rex.

Fossil Museum
Fossil Museum
T Rex
T Rex

Hungry, we head to The Hub for lunch and a coffee. Bathurst is a university town and offers a nice selection of cafes, restaurants and museums.

Dining at The Hub
Dining at The Hub

Tip: University cities are always worth a visit. They are usually clean cities that offer culture, history and trendy pubs and cafes.

Bathurst Time for Coffee
Bathurst Time for Coffee

Conquer the Mountain

Conquer the Mountain
Conquer the Mountain

We often find that the unexpected is the most memorable!  If you ever find yourself in Bathurst, you absolutely must drive the racetrack at the Mount Panorama Motor Racing Circuit!

We are not familiar with auto racing but went to Mount Panorama because we read that the racetrack is internationally known. And, arriving at Mount Panorama we could not believe our eyes. The racetrack was standing in front of us and was open for cars! Should we? Hell yes! Slowly but surely, Putu made his way to the top the track where we enjoyed fantastic views of Bathurst.

View from Mount Panorama
View from Mount Panorama
Mount Panorama
Mount Panorama

And because it was so much fun, we drove the loop again. We were not expecting something so awesome and are so happy that we went to the racetrack!

Putu racing down the track
Putu racing down the track

Tip: At the entrance to the Racing Circuit there is the Race Museum, which would certainly be interesting for car enthusiasts ($15 admission).

National Motor Racing Museum
National Motor Racing Museum

We arrived at the Abercrombie House after opening hours and could only have a look at it from the outside. But the weather was brilliant, and the sun was shining, so it was great to drive the Heritage Trail.  

Abercrombie House
Abercrombie House

And as a cherry on top, we treated ourselves to a huge delicious ice cream from Annie’s Ice Cream Parlour. We went across the street and ate our ice cream in the sunshine in the park of Kings Parade Russell Street. The next day we continued to the Blue Mountains.

Ice Cream Shop
Ice Cream Shop
Ice Cream in the Sunshine
Ice Cream in the Sunshine

The Blue Mountains

We made it from Jervis Bay via the Hinterland of New South Wales to the Blue Mountains.  We want to spend two nights here and enjoy the nature. On the first day we find a nice place for Putu, even with power. Unfortunately, we don’t have a heater, so the electricity will only be used to charge our mobiles. We know that we have two very cold nights ahead of us but are convinced that it will be worth it.

Our campsite is a mere 10-minute walk from Scenic World. It is a tourist attraction that offers four highlights. Scenic Skyway, Scenic Railway, Scenic Walkway and the Scenic Cableway.

At $49 pp, the entrance fee is not quite a bargain, but the view of the Blue Mountains sounds promising. Maybe I just want to test out if I can bravely keep my fear of heights in check.

Views of the Blue Mountains
Views of the Blue Mountains

Scenic World

Scenic Skyway
Scenic Skyway

We are lucky because with only 11 people, our group is very small! The next day the school holidays start, and we see long queues at Scenic World and are grateful that we went there the first day.

The Scenic Skyway is a glass-bottomed cable car that hovers 270 meters above breathtaking gorges and offers unobstructed views of the Katoomba Falls, the Three Sisters and Mt. Solitary. It is the largest cable car in the Southern Hemisphere!

On the Scenic Skyway
On the Scenic Skyway

The Scenic Railway is, oddly, what I am most afraid of. An open railway cabin that is the steepest railway in the world! Luckily, it is only just over 300m long. It goes down through a rock tunnel before arriving in the Jamison Valley. It feels very weird to sit so steeply, but happily the speed of the decent is not too fast.

Not nervous at all
Not nervous at all
The steepest Railway in the World
The steepest Railway in the World
Scenic Railway
Scenic Railway

Arriving in the Jamison Valley, we have about thirty minutes to walk the Scenic Walkway through the rainforest. The flora and fauna is beautiful and time passes by way too quickly.

The Scenic Cableway brings us 545m back to the top again. “The steepest cable car in the southern hemisphere!” is proudly stated during the ride up. It is incredible how beautiful the Blue Mountains, listed as a World Heritage Region, are.

We have survived all the rides and are happy and keen on doing some walks in the nature. So, we set off for our first walks in the Blue Mountains.

Happy
Happy

Mountains, Mountains, Burning Legs

We start slowly on the first evening and take the reality easy Prince Henry Cliff Walk.

Solitary Lookout
Solitary Lookout
Orphan Rock
Orphan Rock
Nice Nature Walk
Nice Nature Walk

But the next morning we want to go to the Katoomba Cascades and Echo Point. The way to Echo Point is marked with several lookouts and should take about an hour. We meet a few hikers from time to time, but generally it is quiet, and we enjoy the fresh air, the unique nature and our nice walk.

On our Way to Katoomba
On our Way to Katoomba
What a view
What a view
Katoomba Cascades
Katoomba Cascades
Beautiful World
Beautiful World
A little rest on our way to Echo Point
A little rest on our way to Echo Point

After several stops for photos, we arrive at Echo Point and are immediately disappointed. The view of the Three Sisters and the sprawling Blue Mountains (the Blue Mountains are twice the size of the Grand Canyon in the US!) is indescribable, but there are hordes of people. We briefly consider turning around and going back but decide to continue and make our way down the steep descent to the Giant Stairway. What were we thinking? Getting to the Honeymoon Bridge is easy.

But then the descent really starts. At the beginning we meet countless tourists, with everyone pushing their way down the steep stairs. It is narrow, and social distancing is not possible. And turning around is difficult because people are jammed in both directions. We continue walking straight down and it gets less crowded. Oh shit, we realize we have to walk back up these steps again. That is not going to be easy! But we really want to go all the way down. And all I can think is, mountains, mountains, burning legs!

On our Way down the Giant Stairways
On our Way down the Giant Stairways
Giant Stairway
Giant Stairway

Mission Unaccomplished

After another few minutes of continuing downward, we meet three young people on their climb back up. We ask if they made it all the way down to the bottom. A disenchanted “No! Way too far!” they exclaim! Sweaty, they settle next to us on a rocky outcrop and take a breather. Uff! We decide to go back. As we clamber back up the high steps, our legs begin to burn! Just as we had dreaded! We console ourselves with the thought that this is an excellent workout for us, one where you get unbeatable views.

Let s go back
Let s go back

Tip: Go visit the city center of Katoomba. You will find nice streetart and many coffee shops and restaurants. We loved the vegetarian Burger at The Embassy Vegetarian Cafe!

Katoomba
Katoomba
Streetart in Katoomba
Streetart in Katoomba
Lunch at Embassy Vegetarian Cafe
Lunch at Embassy Vegetarian Cafe

Tip: On the Way to Sydney from the Blue Mountains you will pass Leura. Make sure to stop at Lily’s Pad Cafe for a delicious breakfast!

Lily s Pad Cafe
Lily s Pad Cafe
Delicious Breakfast at Lily s
Delicious Breakfast at Lily s
Coffee at Lily s
Coffee at Lily s

The End of our Hinterland Journey

Our two weeks in the hinterland come to an end. We drive to Sydney where we will have a House Sit for a week. While stuck in Jervis Bay, we missed traveling so much. To be back on the road, to change routes spontaneously, and to see new things.

We do not know yet that everything will change again within just a few days.

Our trip through the Hinterland of New South Wales
Our trip through the Hinterland of New South Wales

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Linda Bliss

    Sounds like you had a great road trip, maybe you should be staying out there more as there’s so much more to see then being held up in one place for to long…

    1. Hello Linda!
      Yes, we are so happy to be able to travel again! Staying in one place was not our plan at all! Traveling through NSW was exactly what we needed after being stuck for so long.
      In fact, we enjoyed it so much that we are planning on doing something very similar in the Outback of Queensland!
      Many greetings from beautiful and warm Coastal Queensland 🙂
      Menekse and James

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