Brisbane-Bourke-Broken Hill-Adelaide

by Jan van der Meulen - Submitted Oct. 2009
(Bontebok, The Netherlands)

Route Brisbane to Adelaide

Route Brisbane to Adelaide

What would be the right choice?
I'm planning a trip, starting around Dec 27th for 12? days to travel from Brisbane to Bourke to Broken Hill to Adelaide. I've rented a 4x4 Apollo Toyota Hilux for this trip. I'm not an experienced 4x4 driver (but have my license for about 35 years), but I'm longing to get to know a bit about that. As I'm curious about what the outback will offer me.

Could anyone give me a good advice about the route that would suit my needs? I do like to sleep in a hotel/lodge from time to time, but of course I didn't rent this camper for not sleeping in it.
Jan vd Meulen

Reply by Rita - Inland route is great!

Hi Jan,

Great that you added this map with your planned route. Just to understand you correctly, you want to go from Brisbane to Adelaide, right?
And route "A" would be via the inland, route "B" along the coast?

If you want to see the Outback, I would definitely take the inland route. This way you'll get an impression what the Outback looks like.
All roads marked on the map are sealed highways, so you won't need a 4WD at all.

If you want to go on an unsealed road for parts of your trip, you could take the "Darling River Run" from Bourke to Wilcannia. Ask in Bourke about road conditions. If the weather is dry, the route along the Darling River is an easy and very scenic drive.

You can drive along the Darling until Wilcannia, or, if you like more rough road, continue to Menindee, and turn north to Broken Hill from there.

Things to see along the way are tiny old river port towns, the Menindee lakes which supply the water for Broken Hill, and a huge shearing shed in Kinchega National Park.

From Broken Hill it is worth to visit the "nearly" ghost town Silverton, which is only 25 km away. Just 4 km north of Silverton is a lookout over the vast Mundi Mundi plains. You'll feel like on the edge of the world!

Once you arrive in South Australia, and have time left for a detour, the Flinders Ranges are really worth a visit.

Don't worry about lack of 4x4 experience. On this route you don't need to engage the 4x4. Check the car manual on how to change to 4x4 modus, this give you a good feeling, just in case. A 4 WD vehicle has a better ground clearance and is just more convenient if you drive on unsealed roads. Car rental companies don't allow you to take a normal car on a rough road, so you are free to go where you want with your Toyota.

Finally, the route along the coast via Sydney and Melbourne is really nice as well. However, in my opinion, landscapes are more like in Europe, you won't get an idea what the Outback looks like there.

BTW, you are aware that December/January is summer in Australia, it can get pretty hot. In the inland the climate is usually dry, whereas along the coast it can get hot and humid. For me, this would be another reason to choose the inland route.
Don't hesitate to ask more questions. Happy planning.


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Comments for Brisbane-Bourke-Broken Hill-Adelaide

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Dec 16, 2019
Our trip NEW
by: Leeone

Hi Rita my sister and I want to travel great ocean rd is it best to drive to Adelaide first and do ocean rd on way back to Melbourne we are driving from Brisbane and we have 19 days to see lots your advice would be great

Dec 05, 2012
by: MICK

Whats the best route and how far and how long will it take me

Apr 22, 2012
"A little knowledge is a dangerous thing" Alexander Pope
by: Anonymous

Rita is most certainly correct in saying that she did not do the Queensland section of the trip justice. What a shame Mr Everson convinced this bloke to avoid Queensland almost entirely, and that no contrary advice was forthcoming from Rita, who apparently knows little about the second-largest state in Australia.

I find it hard to believe that both these worthies denied our visitor Goondiwindi, Charleville and/or Cunnamulla.

One can only hope that the next overseas visitor who seeks good advice here receives it.

Nov 11, 2011
Adelaide to Sydney via the Outback
by: Rita

Hi Linda,

Here are a few suggestions to get to Lake Eyre, with links to more info and interesting places along the way.

1) Adelaide to William Creek via the well-known opal town Coober Pedy, then down the Oodnadatta Track to Marree. Allow 3 to 4 days.
2) A shorter option would be Adelaide to Roxby Downs with a detour to Andamooka. The latter is a smaller opal town, but very interesting. From here you can drive along Borefield Road to Marree. Allow 2 to 3 days.

Travelling south from Marree, I would suggest to explore the Flinders Ranges for the next 2 or 3 days. A good place to stay is Rawnsley Park Station. You can explore the major attractions in the Flinders Ranges from here.

From Hawker you can drive via Carrieton and Orroroo to the Barrier Hwy and on to Broken Hill. It is worth to spend a few days here to discover the silver city and its surroundings.

Again you have several options to get from Broken Hill to Sydney. The northern route via Cobar and Dubbo is also the shortest with roughly 1200 km.

Depending on your time left, you could also do some more "Outback" while driving south to Menindee and along the Darling River to Mildura. But you can also visit Menindee, the lakes and the Kinchega National Park on a day trip from Broken Hill. Very recommended.

It is roughly 1400km from Broken Hill via Menindee and Mildura to Sydney.

Now you have a rough plan and see it is achievable in two weeks. Take plenty of water, it is certainly hot at that time of the year. Don't forget to check the weather and road conditions along the way.

Happy planning.


Nov 11, 2011
by: Linda

Hi Rita
we would like to travel from Adelaide to Sydney from boxing day arriving Sydney 8 January we are meeting visitors from France there and travelling in a 4WD they are keen to see the outback and maybe Lake Eyre and an opal town. Can you suggest a route that is interesting and achievable I can't seem to grasp the distances and time. If we go to Lake Eyre we would like to do a flight over the lake.
Your suggestions will be most welcomed thanks lots

Jan 05, 2010
Bourke resident
by: Ian Cole

Hey you can head north then west to Cunnamulla then south to Bourke and then down the Darling River run...should all be open for the next few days....and see the magic of a big flow in the mighty Darling River!!!! Alternative is Bourke to Cobar then up thru Wilcannia to Broken the Bourke Tourist Centre for details if you need further info Cheers Ian

Jan 04, 2010
you're right
by: Jan

Hi Rita,
You're right. One has to accept, we can't let the wheater do the things one wants. Anyway, I've met a lot of people who are very happy with the weather. And a wet tourist? A minor problem, don't you think? So, I'm in Lightning Ridge right now; couldn't make it to Bourke because of the closed roads. Well, there was not an option to do the Darling route to Wilcannia the next four weeks they say. Tomorrow I'll ask what will be the best route to go to Broken Hill. Probably that'll be the highway to Narrabi down to Dubbo and then up to Nyngan, Cobar and Wilcannia to Broken Hill. That some kind of a D-tour don't you think? ;-(
Seems I do miss the part I had been longing for, but I do hope Flinders Ranges won't give me that much problems with the weather...

Jan 03, 2010
Floodings in New South Wales
by: Rita

Hi Jan,

I hope the current floodings in northern New South Wales don't spoil your holidays too much. I know my advice often includes "it depends on the weather", but I didn't mean it would come soo bad.

More than ever, seek local advice before you go on the road.

Have a safe journey.

Dec 13, 2009
Route taking shape
by: Rita

Hi Jan,

I don't know much about towns and places from Brisbane to Bourke. I probably don't do this area justice when I suggest that you don't spend too much time there.
Depending on how many kilometres you want to drive per day, you could do Brisbane - Moree with one overnight stop. Moree - Bourke can be done in one day, it's a little over 400 km on sealed highways.

Which route to take from Bourke is a decision I can't make for you, as I only know the Darling River route. I would decide that in Bourke. Talk to the locals, ask about the weather and road conditions on both routes. It is summer, and it can be hot. So the Wanaaring route might be very lonely with not much traffic.

Travelling the Outback means to be open for changes due to weather conditions, and advice from the locals is always valuable. There is a nice Tourist Office in Bourke where you can get brochures about the routes.

Are you going to camp, or do you stay in motels and cabins? On my visit, the caravan park in Wilcannia was closed to the public. You should check that in Bourke. But there is at least one motel in town.
If you don't camp, it might be a good idea to ring the places you want to stay one or two days ahead. January is holiday time in Australia, and places like the Flinders Ranges might be full when you arrive late.

I'd recommend to stay two nights in Broken Hill to explore the city, and make that trip to Silverton.

Broken Hill to Hawker, or Rawnsley Park, or Wilpena Pound can be done in one day. Cabin/motel accommodation is less expensive at Rawnsley Park than Wilpena, and they have a nice caravan park as well.

2 nights at Arkaroola is a must when you decide to drive up there. Join their famous Ridgetop Tour, or drive around on your own. They'll give you mud maps for self-driving.
If you leave Arkaroola early, you can make it in one day to Adelaide. However, it is also worth to stop in Clare or Burra for one night.

Adelaide, of course it is worth to stay a couple of days, you'll see how much time is left when you are there.

From Adelaide to Melbourne - one or two overnight stops, plan plenty of time for the Great Ocean road section. There are many stops and lookouts between Warrnambool and Apollo Bay.

Now your plans are taking shape, not long to go, eh?


Edited: Oops, just read your first post again which answers my question about your accommodation plans.

Dec 13, 2009
by: jan van der meulen

Hi Rita,
I'm not sure what route to take.
Bourke - Louth - Tilpa- Wilcannia - Broken Hill
or Bourke - Wanaaring - Wilcannia

Yes The E does means Arkaroola village. I'm not sure if I have the time to go there, But If I think I can make it, I will.
Do you have any idea what would be a wise time investment for this trip? I mean: how many days should I stay Where and how many days do I need for the driving from one place to another?

Thank youfor all your help already!

Dec 12, 2009
great route
by: Rita

Hi Jan,

If I read your new map correctly, you're planning to go to Wanaaring from Bourke, and then down to Wilcannia? Must be a great route. We planned to go from Eulo down to Hungerford and Wanaaring, however, due to rain we had to stick to the hwy (Cunnamulla to Bourke).

Good to see that you make a detour to the Flinders Ranges as well, it is a beautiful area. Does the "E" mark Arkaroola? It is wonderful out there.

I wish you a great trip. Don't hesitate to ask more questions, and let us know how it was. Check out the driving tips and Outback safety sections for general tips for your journey.


Dec 10, 2009
I'm in for any good advice
by: Anonymous

Hi Terry,
Thank you for helping me. What makes yo advise the route via Warwick, Tenterfield etc to Moree instead of the other route?
I do want to visit Moree, because I want to meet someone there.
Thank you so much

Oct 21, 2009
Re journey from Brisbane to Adelaide
by: Terry Everson

You have on your own mapped out a real good journey and it is good to know that you will terminate your journey in Melbourne otherwise you will be rushing to complete a full circuit.

I agree with Rita that you should do the Darling River road from Bourke through Louth and Tilpa and also visit Kinchega National Park at Menindee. There are some great camping spots on the River here.

I would also suggest that instead of going west to Cunnamulla that you travel south through Warwick, Tenterfield, Glen Innes, Inverell Moree and Walgett to Bourke.
I could suggest other places on your way to Melbourne from Adelaide but given your time restraint I think the route you have chosen is as good as any. Mind you I think you have not given yourself enough time to do this journey justice.

Regards from Terry.

Oct 20, 2009
by: Rita

Hi Jan,

now I understand. As you mentioned 12 days, I couldn't imagine you want to do a round trip in this short time.
I agree, it is a good idea to finish in Melbourne, you'll have more time to explore places you like along the way.

You can't submit a map through the comment function, but you can email the map (max. 400px wide) to me, and I add it to your comment.


Oct 20, 2009
interesting answer
by: jan van der meulen

Thank you for your answer! I was planning a roundtrip, so first I want to start in Brisbane and then counterclockwise. However I've got the advice to start in Brisbane and finish in Melbourne, because otherwise my 4 weeks wouldn't be enough. I can imagine this to be a good advise, so I decided to do so.
I'll try to update the map with the info you gave: excellent!

Thank you so much.

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