While touring Outback NSW, Iesha found that it wasn’t just the landscapes, but the people, who made her trip truly memorable.

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Countries on which these adventures take place who have occupied and cared for these lands and waters for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

You know when you have those moments with a complete stranger that restore your faith in humanity a little bit? When they go out of their way to give you directions, help you carry your groceries, or even just smile as they walk past you. Those moments that make you think ‘Hey, humans aren’t so bad after all.’ 

It’s these small moments that often shape your most memorable experiences when you’re travelling. Those strangers who might think nothing of it in the moment, but stick with you for years to come. 

When my boyfriend Dan and I headed out to Outback NSW in our Troopy, we were travelling to small towns we’d never been to before.

Read more: The Tiny Towns of Outback NSW

These were tiny rural towns, some with an official population in the single digits, and we really didn’t know what to expect. Would these locals be welcoming of us city visitors, or not so much?

Little did we know that *spoiler alert* this trip would show us the true meaning of kindness and selflessness from complete strangers. 

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Coffee With a Local

Our trip began in Menindee, a town with a population of 500 (very friendly) people, who’ll always say hello as you drive or walk past. We stopped by the local coffee shop and were greeted by a friendly local sitting outside having a coffee. 

He politely invited us to sit down with our coffees and have a chat. I soon learnt that this would be a recurring theme throughout our trip, as locals in all the towns we visited were so welcoming and willing to share their wisdom.


The Tiny Towns of Outback NSW, Iesha McRae, Broken Hill Desert Resort, outback


The local bloke worked in Kinchenga National Park and told us, ‘I’ve been a local for 11 years, but you need to be here for 50 years to be considered a local!’

With over 60 years of living in Menindee under his belt, he was very passionate about his town and the great lakes surrounding it. The town relies on these lakes for their water supply and last year they were almost entirely empty during the drought.

After chatting for an hour he paid for our coffees and thanked us for listening to him. He made us feel so welcome in the town, and after hearing how proud he was to live there, we were extra excited to continue exploring.

The Artist of the Outback

We headed to Broken Hill and on the way we saw a sign saying it was half an hour to a town called Silverton. I turned to Dan and said ‘we have to go there’. I was pretty eager to see the Mad Max Museum (movie buff, I know).

Read more: The Freedom of Road Tripping NSW Without A Plan

We headed on the drive surrounded by flat red sand for hundred of kilometres. You certainly feel a sense of isolation the further west you travel in NSW. The dirt seems to get more red and the people seem to be fewer and farther between.


The Tiny Towns of Outback NSW, Iesha McRae, Mundi Mundi lookout, plains, road, outback


We arrived in Silverton and I remember thinking – ‘is this it?’ It’s a single strip of old and beaten tar road with a few house-looking buildings on either side. There was no one walking the streets except for one person literally walking next to their donkey.

We got out and realised the Mad Max Museum was closed due to renovations. Bugger. So we wandered down the road until something caught my eye. One of these shacks was covered in what seemed to be an explosion of colour. As a lover of colour myself (I hate a neutral) I had to know what it was.

It was the John Dynon Gallery. John has been painting full time for over 30 years and has a unique perspective on the Australian outback depicted in his art.

The gallery certainly sticks out amongst the red dust and dirt. It looks like it could be placed in the middle of Newtown or Melbourne and no one would bat an eye, but in the middle of the Australian desert it certainly grabbed my attention.

Walking in, I was taken aback by the sheer amount of artwork on the walls. I was greeted by John and invited to come inside and take a look at anything I wanted.

We began talking and I learnt that John was born and bred in Silverton but used to work in the mines. Ironically, he laughed and told me that he was scared of heights so the mines were never a long term viable career for him. He was given his first set of paints at 19 years old and thought he wouldn’t be able to paint as he’d only been drawing and sketching until then. But he was encouraged by his girlfriend to give painting a go and the rest is history!


The Tiny Towns of Outback NSW, Iesha McRae, Silverton, John Dynon Gallery


John was such an interesting person to talk to and gave us some insight into the town. When we asked for some campsite recommendations he told us we could camp wherever we wanted, he granted us permission as the self-proclaimed ‘mayor, sheriff and town drunk!’

I purchased a few items from the gallery, but wish I could go back and buy more. His talent is so incredible, and it was clear that many others thought the same as I wandered around the gallery observing the countless local certificates of appreciation and awards he’s won and collected over the years. He truly was a kind stranger. 

John was such a unique character and showed such kindness, the kind that’s hard to come by in the city. He was genuinely interested in us as people and our travels. After chatting to him for so long, I asked if I could take a picture of him to remember him by (and write a story about him).


He was so shocked, and I could tell he was incredibly appreciative of having someone telling his story. I took his picture and he insisted on me leaving my details so he could send me something as a thank you. 

A month or so later I got home and low and behold, he’d sent me three of his prints with a beautiful handwritten note, thanking me personally. A testament to his kind, generous and compassionate nature. We could learn a thing or two from people out here.

Roadside Heros

After leaving Silverton, we spent a night in White Cliffs and then headed to Tilpa.

The road to Tilpa was a rough one. Tough corrugated roads for hundreds of kilometres – the surface of which proved to be too much for our trailer when the weld on our suspension bracket snapped (a.k.a. we were stuffed). We pulled over to the side of the road, had a look underneath then turned to each other and said ‘oh no’. 

We knew how isolated we were. We hadn’t seen another car for at least an hour, and we had no phone reception. The perfect ingredients for not a very good time.


The Tiny Towns of Outback NSW, Iesha McRae, plains, outback


We got out the tools we had with us and did our best to problem solve with our limited resources. We spent over an hour trying different ways to make it possible for us to drive a little bit more so that we would hopefully come across some sort of house/petrol station/civilisation. It was safe to say the vibes were low. 

Read more: How To 4WD For Beginners

We were almost at the two hour point when I suddenly heard in the distance the rumblings of an engine. I said to Dan ‘shush’ as we both stopped to listen. It slowly but surely got louder and we both, literally, jumped for joy. The truck got closer and without us even having to flag them down, they signalled they were pulling over. I was pretty emotional when they got out of the car, eager to help us without us even having to even ask.



As luck would have it – one of the men was a welder and the others were tradesmen, so they had a good idea of what to do. They confirmed that we were, in technical terms – ‘stuffed’, which made Dan and I feel better about our poor efforts trying to fix it ourselves.

They gave us ratchet straps and got under the trailer to wrestle the axle back into position. They got it to a point where we could continue driving (we had another 50km to go on really rough corrugated roads). There’s something about being in an undeniably shitty situation that somehow brings out the most fun vibes.

The joy we all felt once we fixed the trailer was unmatched – high fiving these complete strangers we met 20 minutes ago is a moment I won’t forget in a hurry. 

It weirdly, somehow, made me feel grateful that our trailer broke in the first place.

Once we got into Tilpa, we met another group of people camping at the same farmstay as us, and one of the guys was a welder. He was a complete legend and actually ended up welding the trailer suspension back together for FREE. We couldn’t believe the kindness these people had shown us and how everyone had gone so far out of their way to help. 

Go For The Landscapes, Stay For The People

Our experience in the NSW Outback was nothing short of incredible. Not only is the NSW landscape one of the best in the world, but the people are unmatched. They truly made our trip one we will never forget, and we always talk about it to this day.

It made me realise that no matter where I am, it’s the people who give me those priceless memories, not the place. If there’s one lesson I took from the people of the NSW Outback, it’s to be kind always (and to always, always, pack ratchet straps).


The Tiny Towns of Outback NSW, Iesha McRae, White Cliffs, car, road trip, sunset