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Take a ‘Wayward Bus’ road-trip across Outback NSW from Adelaide to the East Coast over 9 days.

Start in Adelaide or in Broken Hill. 

Finish in Brisbane or Noosa or earlier in Moree, Glen Innes, Casino, Byron Bay or Gold Coast (Moree and Casino have daily train connections to Sydney).

The trip is part of a ‘slow-tours’ series, proposed to run in a 30-day circuit every month: Noosa – Sydney – Adelaide – Broken Hill – Noosa.  We’re planning to run a trial through July 2021, then take a break before stepping up to a continual service from Oct 2021.


22nd-30th of the month, first trial in July 2021 (borders allowing) then more services from Oct 2021.


$800 per person 

If starting Day 4 from Broken Hill subtract $200

If finishing on Day 7 in Moree subtract $150 / Day 8 in Glen Innes or Tenterfield subtract $75


  • Camping – $25 per person per night includes use of our tents and mats, and light breakfast.
  • Pub/cabin accommodation – with a choice of single/double/twin private rooms (approx $90 per room night).
  • Motel accommodation can be arranged, prices may vary according to seasonality and demand.
  • Any activities and entry fees. 
  • Meals are not included – bakeries, cafes, supermarkets, pubs and restaurants are plentiful along the way.

Sights and visits:

  • Barossa and Clare Wine Valleys, Mintaro Village, Melrose & Southern Flinders Ranges
  • Steamtown Peterborough, Terowie ghost town
  • Broken Hill galleries, museums, Silverton and White Cliffs opals
  • Wilcannia and Darling River
  • Cobar, Bourke, Brewarrina and tour of ancient fish traps
  • Walgett, Lightning Ridge opals and lots to see/do
  • Moree and artesian baths
  • Warialda, Inverell, Transport Museum, Glen Innes and Tenterfield
  • Northern Rivers: Casino, Lismore and Byron Bay


  • We provide travel in a touring mini-coach with driver-guide.
  • From 4 to 21 participants.
  • Visits to attractions and museums are optional, some are free, others are modest entry fees.
  • If on any day weather conditions are adverse we may substitute other touring and activities.

Coach and Driver-Guide:

  • Our ‘Bandicoot’ mini-coach is a Mitsubishi Rosa refitted with reclining coach seats and extra legroom for extended touring.
  • An enclosed trailer securely carries the luggage.
  • Our drivers are experienced tour driver-guides and adventure leaders.

Overnights x 8:

  • 1 night Melrose – camp, Mt Remarkable Hotel/Motel, North Star Hotel or Wozza’s BnB
  • 2 nights Broken Hill – iconic Palace Hotel offers from budget to flash, for 4-star we suggest art-deco Royal Exchange Hotel. A few blocks off the main street is the Lodge Outback Motel.
  • 1 night White Cliffs – camp, White Cliffs Hotel/Motel or White Cliffs Underground Motel
  • 1 night Bourke – camp, Port of Bourke Hotel, Bourke Riverside Motel or Darling River Motel are in or near the town centre.
  • 1 night Lightning Ridge – Lightning Ridge Outback Resort covers all options including camping
  • 1 night Moree – the Angels’ Rest Motel and Baths Motel are very reasonable (pub room prices) and near the main pools, also the Imperial Hotel for pub rooms in town centre. Despite the attraction of the thermal pools, there is nowhere expensive to stay in town!
  • 1 night Tenterfield – camp, motel choices in and near the town centre are Jumbuck, Settlers, Best Western, Peter Allen, Tenterfield Tavern and Royal Hotel-Motel, for budget/heritage Stannum House, for a pub turned very flash the Commercial Boutique.

Adelaide pick-up point:

  • 0800 Franklin Street beside Central Bus Station, close to Adelaide City YHA, taxis and 5 minutes walk from Victoria Square.

Broken Hill pick ups by arrangement:

  • From accoms 0700-0800 on 26th of the month

Drop off points in Moree, Glen Innes, Tenterfield, Casino, Lismore:

  • Post Office or other point by arrangement

Drop off points in Byron Bay, Coolangatta, Brisbane or Noosa Heads:

  • At YHAs or other points by arrangement

An Outback Journey 9 days Adelaide to Noosa itinerary 

This is a trip of 3000kms not on the usual ‘See Australia’ itinerary but it’s a journey that’s fascinating, rewarding and educational to undertake.  

First Nations heritage stands out as the #1 storyline and we’ll connect where we can appropriately with projects, important sites, cultural centres and galleries. 

With the arrival of Europeans came dispossession, conflict, oppression and discrimination of First Nations peoples.  It’s been a tough 200+ years.  Be ready to see and hear about the ongoing disadvantages within modern Australia.  Learn of successes, such as the recovery of languages, 1965 Freedom Bus ride, a drawn-out 18 year legal case to have ‘indigenous land use rights’ recognised over much of western NSW – and the celebration of tens of thousands of years of cultural heritage.

Although we take 9 days, on this journey we cross the country of more than 12 nations. 

While there’s an unwritten history of 60,000 years or more, the past two centuries record the white explorers, pioneer settlers, decline of iconic rivers, tapping of artesian waters, drought and flood, pastoral runs and ruins, remote towns, boom and bust mines, precious opals, the rise and fall of riverboats and railways – and development of roads and aviation.  

The land looks hardy but is fragile too, prone to further damage from climate change and unsustainable practices.  Where there’s bad news, there’s usually some hope too.  We’ll see negative effects but we’ll learn too how this environment may be better cared for in future.

Day 1: Adelaide to Melrose 

The journey into SA’s Mid-North is one of wine, landscapes and heritage. Torrens Gorge is the most spectacular city exit, snaking into the Adelaide Hills. The route includes the Barossa Valley and a winery stop, Kapunda, Martindale Hall and/or Mintaro village walk, Clare Valley vineyards, the sleepy towns of Gladstone, Laura and Wirrabara, and late-arvo time at rustic Melrose with options for Mt Remarkable walks.

The Kaurna are the First Nations people of the Adelaide Plains and up the coast of Gulf of St. Vincent, stretching inland to the Barossa and Clare Valleys.  The eastern side of the Upper Spencer Gulf and its ranges are the lands of the Nukunu.  Eastern neighbours to both, the Ngadjuri covered what we know as the Mid-North, from the wine valleys over 400kms to Manna Hill. Through their proximity to the Adelaide colony all three nations were struck by introduced diseases and lost their traditional lands, to the point that by the late 19th Century their numbers were but a small fraction and much of the culture lost.

Choice of camping, pub or motel rooms. Refer above to Overnights.

Interesting people to browse: Vivian Bullwinkel (1915-2000) sole surviving nurse of the WW2 Bangka Island Massacre / Richard Grenfell Thomas (1901-74) mineralogist and biochemist / C. J. Dennis, (1876-1938) humorous poems, especially “The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke” 

Day 2: Melrose to Broken Hill 

Before we head off into the Outback, how can we not visit a town named Booleroo Centre, the closest populace to the Tesla Big Battery?

By the time we get to Peterborough, Steamtown Museum and Roundhouse will be open.

If trains don’t whet your whistle, browse this grand old town and stop by Cafe 229 on Main in the former Capitol Theatre. Step aboard SA Railway’s relic carriage in the town centre, take a seat and you can video an near-real experience of travelling the old Broken Hill line. It’ll fool the friends on Facebook.

Nearby Terowie is a ghost town and bone-yard for 1940s and 50s motoring heritage. The rail station was host to General Macarthur’s “I shall return” WW2 quip, but he never did.

We’ll find a place for lunch and drive up the Barrier Highway into the Outback through Yunta, Mannahill and a few more joints with names you won’t remember.

Cross into NSW for our 2 night stay in ‘The Hill’. There are some terrific old car yards as we come into town, this is slow-rusting country! With 17,000+ residents, the city is Australia’s longest running mining town – and first entire town to be listed on the National Heritage List. It boomed from the 1883 discovery of silver ore and lead. there’s no town like it – it is Australia’s Eldorado. The Line of Load Lookout and Memorial (to over 800 miners who died on the job) gives an expansive view over the city.

Around Mannahill we leave Ngadjuri lands for Wilyakali (Wiljali), they cover the country of the Barrier Ranges and today’s city of Broken Hill where they are the main indigenous group there. Today the Wilyakali Aboriginal Corporation runs Poolamacca Station, are joint managers of Mutawintki National Park, negotiate mining deals and Native Title Land Claims.

The Wilyakali are one of around ten nations speaking dialects of the Paakantyi (Darling) language.

A short drive out of town is Living Desert Sculpture Park, a popular place for sunset.

Choose lodge/pub or motel accommodation. Some of our choices are classics. Refer above to Overnights.

Interesting people to browse: John Paterson McGowan (1880-1952) born Terowie, horseman, Boer War soldier, pioneering Hollywood actor  (many times sheriff or villain), director, screenwriter and producer. Acted in The Hazards of Helen and married the film’s star! 

Day 3: Broken Hill day 80km

Silverton morning excursion for the Gaol Museum, Mad Max Museum, John Dynon Gallery, Silverton Pub, Bakery and more.

Return to town for a free afternoon around ‘The Hill’s’ art galleries, museums, junkyards and stores.

Museums: Sulphide Street Railway & Historical, Mad Max, Albert Kersten Geocentre, Whites Mining & Minerals, 1887 Mosque, Trades Hall, Bruce Langford (Flying Doctor), Silverton Gaol.

Galleries: Pro Hart, Absalom’s, Cowz, Silver City Mint, BH Regional, Julie Hart.

Away Tours offer a choice of half day (3 hour) tours: ‘City Heritage” or ‘Broken Hill Pubs’.

Interesting people to browse: Bill O’Reilly (1905-92) cricketer (one of the greatest bowlers), adversary of Don Bradman

Day 4: Broken Hill to White Cliffs 

Further free time this morning (which allows our driver-guide to complete a 24 hour log book break). After early lunch we drive through the extensive Barrier Ranges to White Cliffs, a remote opal mining town. Meet the locals and learn about their opal mining lifestyle – and admire the results.

A group of the Riverine Region found around White Cliffs, the Wandjiwalgu people are a neighbor of other groups including the Bandjigali and the Barundji. They have many engraving sites near water sources which were presumed to be their marks of ownership.

Choice of camping, White Cliffs Hotel-Motel or Underground Motel. Refer above to Overnights.

Interesting people to browse: Annie “Grannie” Moysey (1875-1976) matriarch of the Gunu and Barkindji tribes, centenarian. 

Day 5: White Cliffs to Bourke 

Our longest day’s drive is 500km, across the NSW Far West via Wilcannia, Darling River and Cobar.

We’ll see what we can arrange with the Barkindji First Nations people at Wilcannia to tell us about their country, it’s a town that is reviving – hopefully along with the fortunes of the Darling Barka / River which before the 2019 flows was growing young trees in its long puddly riverbed.

To the east of the Darling, the Barindji people roamed a land estimated at 23,000 sq km, 75% the size of Belgium. This country changes back and forth between sparse mallee forest, mulga, swamp and lines of red sand dunes.

Along the Barrier Highway, goats seem to be better landcare animals for the outback than sheep and cattle – and they are very ‘road-smart’! Of course, kangaroos, emus and other native animals make the best land-care critters.

A gritty ‘n great town with a friendly greeting, Cobar’s fortunes have risen up and down like its mine shaft buckets. We’ll stop by the bakery and you can stroll a couple of blocks through town – past the Great Western Hotel – and we’ll meet at the excellent Great Cobar Heritage Centre. Cobar is a’Great’ town indeed!

Cobar is on Wangaibon country – estimated at 70,000 sq km – the size of Ireland. In turn, they are a clan of the Ngemba nation stretching up to Bourke and then to the east.

Turning north we join the ‘Kidman Way’ named after the pastoral icon. Gundabooka National Park is a little to the west and one of the many Aboriginal art sites is accessible as well as the Ngiyampaa Track, a 4km circuit to the summit of Mt Grenfell.

The historic river port town of Bourke is well worth a walk to explore.

Choice of camping, pub/lodge or motel accom. Refer above to Overnights.

Interesting people to browse: Edward B.L. Dickens (1852–1902) politician, rabbit inspector, youngest son of the Charles Dickens. 

Day 6: Bourke to Lightning Ridge 

The Kamilaroi Highway is named after the people of inland Northern NSW and runs east from Bourke.

First Nations heritage is strong out here. Brewarrina on the Barwon River (same name as Geelong’s river) was an important meeting place, between the Muruwari, Ngemba, Wonkamurra, Weilwan, Kamilaroi and Yualwarri peoples. On the northern side of the Darling and Barwon Rivers between Bourke and Brewarrina lived the Barranbinya, a different language group.

The 500m of river course fashioned into fish traps may be the oldest surviving man-made structure on the planet. We can organise one hour tours of Baiame’s Ngunnhu and ochre pit with the Brewarrina Aboriginal Cultural Museum.

White settlers arrived about 1840 and as the town grew it became one of the furthest ports upstream for the Murray-Darling paddle steamers. The 1890-built bridge would raise to let them through.

On the grim side of history, Hospital Creek is the site of an 1859 massacre of 300-400 Aboriginals by settlers. In 1987 a death in custody and resulting local riots prompted Prime Minister Bob Hawke to announce the Royal Commission into Indigenous Deaths in Custody. Thirty years on, progress is slow to right things.

Brewarrina was the location for a 1911 silent movie, Moora Neya, The Message of the Spear.

The Kamilaroi Nation is one of the largest in Eastern Australia, around 75,000 sq km and we’re on their lands as far as the ranges on Day 8. Today about 13,000 people identify as Kamilaroi.

Walgett was one of the first stops for another bus trip, back in February 1965. It was called the Freedom Ride, when activist Charles Perkins and a throng of Sydney University students stopped to protest outside Walgett RSL club which was denying entry to local indigenous returned servicemen. Further encounters on their journey to Moree gained national press coverage and lifted the lid on racism, segregation and disadvantage of the times. Radical Reverend Ted Noffs of Kings Cross Wayside Chapel had a hand in organising the trip.

Mined since 1905, Lightning Ridge is the world’s top spot for black opal and has a rich fossil field. We’ll arrive early afternoon. Local sights include the artesian bore baths, Bottle House, Amigos Castle, Chambers of the Black Hand sculpture museum, John Murray Art Gallery, and Australian Opal Centre for a fossilised dinosaur.

Choice of camping or motel style. Refer above to Overnights.

Interesting people to browse: Charles Perkins (1936-2000) international soccer player, Aboriginal activist, public servant, leader of 1965 Freedom Bus tour

Day 7: Lightning Ridge to Moree 260km

Morning free time to see and do more in Lightning Ridge.

Upstream on the Barwon River, Collarenebri is the only town along our way – the pub was once help up by bushranger Captain Thunderbolt.

The Weraerai and Kamilaroi peoples ranged across the region now centred around Moree, nowadays best known for its popular artesian baths. You can hear a lot of languages spoken as you soak in the healthy hot waters.

The town has come a long way since the 1965 Freedom Bus confrontation at the Moree Pool when they didn’t allow in Aboriginal people. Neither did theatres and some pubs.

With a daily train to Sydney, Moree can be a finishing point for your trip.

As well as the public baths, many ‘resorts’ have their own hot artesian pools.

Choice of pub or motel rooms. Refer above to Overnights.

Interesting people to browse: Professor Gail Garvey (b. 1960s) cancer researcher, Kamilaroi woman / Len Waters (1924-93) shearer of a million sheep, Kamilaroi man, WW2 fighter pilot.

Day 8: Moree to Tenterfield 

Don’t spend too long in the pool this morning.

The Gwydir Highway heads towards the mountains of the Great Dividing Range. Today’s distance is split by the towns of Warialda (place of wild honey), Inverell and Glen Innes.

Cranky Rock Nature Reserve on Warialda Creek is a swim spot on a hot day and has a tragic legend in its name.

20 kms off our route, Myall Creek is a stain on the nation. Here 28 people of the Wirrayaraay clan were massacred by settlers and convicts in June 1838. For the atrocity, 7 white men were publicly hung in Sydney 6 months later – one of few occasions where whites were tried and executed for such crimes.

Inverell is the largest town on our way between Broken Hill and the coast.

Diamonds and sapphires have been mined in the region and Inverell is home to the National Transport Museum, a collection of 120+ vehicles (mostly cars).

Climbing into the ranges we enter the country of the Ngarabal people. Sitting high at 1060m, Glen Innes or Gindaaydjin (plenty big round stones on open plains) grew prominent on grazing, tin mining and the rail link from Sydney opened in 1884. Many grand buildings remain.

The New England Highway takes us along these high-country ranges from Glen Innes up to Tenterfield. This leg traverses the Ngarabal lands which were less than 3000 sq km. It also follows the old Great Northern Railway, also the first and only Sydney to Brisbane rail link from 1888 to 1930 – albeit with a change of gauge break at Wallangarra on the Queensland border. In 1930 standard guage via Casino opened all the way into Brisbane. The last ‘Northern Mail’ ran out of Tenterfield in 1988. It’s been closed since and debate rages over converting the line into a 200km rail trail from Armidale to Tenterfield.

Tenterfield at 850m elevation is in the centre of Jukembal lands that spread from near Glen Innes to Stanthorpe.

Nearby gold diggings saw the town established by 1860 and it became a discussion centre for Federation. It was on the WW2 ‘Brisbane Line’ with thousands of soldiers stationed out of sight across the region. Earmarked to be a major battleground, tank traps and gun emplacements remain along the stock route by the highway.

Sights to see include the Tenterfield Saddler, Railway Station Museum, Henry Parkes Museum and many heritage properties.

Henry Parkes delivered his Federation Speech, the Tenterfield Oration in the School of Arts on 24 October 1889 – while on his way by rail from Brisbane to Sydney. His speech rekindled the discussion that led to Federation on 1 January 1901.

Choice of camping, pub or motel accom. Refer above to Overnights.

Interesting people to browse: Peter Allen (1944-92) Tenterfield born Broadway star

Day 9: Tenterfield to Byron Bay / Gold Coast / Brisbane / Noosa 

The route goes by way of Casino, Lismore, Ballina, Byron Bay, then drop offs on the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Noosa.

The Bruxner Highway crosses upland pastures and descends through mountain rainforests to the coastal lands of the Northern Rivers.

A large town, Casino prides itself as a centre for beef grazing.

Lismore is a small city of near 30,000 and home to Southern Cross University and St Carthage’s Catholic Cathedral. It grew to importance as an inland port but is prone to floods. The so-called Big Scrub was a superb sub tropical rainforest that covered the region, largely cleared to harvest red cedar (‘red gold’) and run cattle.

At the river and sea port of Ballina we at last reach the East Coast and Pacific Ocean. Staying along the coast, the drive continues to Lennox Head and the resort town of Byron Bay by lunchtime. This is the land of the Budjalung Nation, stretching from Ballina to the Gold Coast.

It’s the 30th day of the month and if you’re continuing south towards Sydney with us on the 3rd, you have 3 or 4 nights break to enjoy Byron Bay.

The final leg crosses the lands of the Yuggera (Moreton Bay to Toowoomba) and Kubbi Kubbi (Sunshine Coast).

Interesting people to browse: John Wisker (1845-84) English chess master, school teacher, journalist and author, emigrated to Brisbane, later Melbourne, , articles included ‘The Coloured Man in Australia’ and ‘Troubles in the Pacific’, raised much attention to human rights issues of the time, died of TB at 38.


Bookings by email or phone to Arcadia Travel:

Booking arrangements for departures up to 31 Dec 2021:

  • To give time to arrange accommodations, bookings can be held for up to 7 days except that in the 14 days prior to departure a shorter amount of time will be apply
  • Deposit of $100 is required when confirming a booking (non-refundable)
  • Full payment due 14 days before start (then 50% refundable if customer cancels)
  • Advise your accommodation preference at time of booking and we will arrange or assist with contacts
  • If a trip is cancelled due to reasons beyond our control (such as Covid19 border closures), any payments made will be refunded in full.