An Epic Outback Weekend Road Trip to Cunnamulla (NSW)

Highlights:

  • Quintessential Aussie wildlife (Red Kangaroos, Emus, Wedge tailed Eagles, Bearded Dragons)
  • Start of the real outback (red dirt)
  • Wide open spaces
  • Outback (rusty) gold
  • Pubs

“Take a drive to clear your head”

When you’ve got a mate with a bit on his mind and another that’s a bundle of energy that rings you one night and says ‘do you want to go for a drive?’ you don’t ask questions, you just grab your gear and go along for the ride.

The trip started with a simple goal “see red dirt” which meant leaving our coastal town in southern NSW and heading equal parts west and north until we hit the QLD border… then a little bit further north with the lose destination of Cunnamulla in south west QLD. For the most part, the road is long and straight… some might say boring, but not with the three of us scouting every which way for rusty gold or an animal of some sort to try and catch or an abandoned car/railway line/ building to search… for animals of some sort to try and catch.

Before you know it, we’ve hit the anchors… bearded dragon on a post. The three of us simultaneously leap from the car and sprint across the scrub where, for once, the beardy waits patiently for us to grab him instead of launching himself to the ground and doing the Usain Bolt. The unusually wet winter meant there was been a lot of food around and some very healthy (fat) looking animals.

Further along the Mitchell Highway we noticed the railway line that has been beside us for the last 100kms or so was actually abandoned, the perfect place to stop and flip some old sleepers in search of snakes. It was too moist so there were no snakes to be found but we did stir up a few big Red kangaroos and an Emu with 4 or 5 chicks in tow. Seeing these unique and instantly recognizable Aussie animals in the wild is something special and something I’m not sure many Australians have had the chance to witness first hand.

By midafternoon we’d reached Cunnamulla and found a pub for a couple of schooners with the locals before we decided to head east to find a place to roll the swags out for the night.

While we were cruising down the highway dodging goats and roo’s the full moon was rising directly in front of us as the sun set behind, a good enough reason to stop the car (again) and enjoy the sights from a deserted stretch of highway for half an hour. Somewhere between Cunnamulla and St George we found a place to set up camp for the night, start a fire man style with a flint and cook up some snags we’d picked up earlier in the day, a couple of beers and a whiskey for dessert later, we were done.

The trip back south was via Lightening Ridge… for no other reason than none of us had been there before. The landscape quickly changed as we headed south from here and the open scrub gave way to farmlands and canola as far as the eye could see while abandoned railway bridge was another good excuse to pull over and explore, for no other reason than we could.

This was a weekend mission, a journey with no real destination and a micro adventure in every sense of the word (ok, not if you are counting kms) you can cover great distances and see some wonderfully unique sights all without ever feeling like you are rushing, which makes the couple of days away feel like a whole lot longer. This trip wet the appetite to explore further north and further west… it was only a small taste of the outback but this won’t be the last. 

Essential Gear Required

  • Reliable Car (4×4 is handy if you’re planning on leaving the black stuff)
  • Swag
  • Food/water/cooking supplies

How to get here

Everywhere man…

-28.075578, 145.687584

Activities

  • Herpetology (reptile related stuff)
  • Camping
  • Exploring

Skill Level

Beginner 

Distance Covered

5,266 km over 52 hours