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The Great Inland Way: Sydney to Cooktown

The Great Inland Way: Sydney to Cooktown

From the central west’s bustling regional hubs, all the way to the humid tropics of the far north, the Great Inland Way is an almost 3000-kilometre road trip of epic proportions. Tackle New South Wales’s rolling pastures and iconic locations, and pass over the border and through to the dusty Queensland outback. Follow the offbeat track into dense rainforest territory, and then bid goodbye to the towering ferns as you start to smell the salty ocean in the distance. Whether you choose to explore a single section or embrace the entire journey, the Great Inland Way highlights some of the quintessential country towns that make up the very best of the rival states. Here, the Maroons and the Blues don’t go head-to-head; instead, they join forces for one incredible celebration in the form of breathtaking national parks, rural plains and twinkling outback skies.

Sydney to Dubbo

390 kilometres

Three hours west of Sydney, our first stop on the way to Dubbo is Bathurst. While famed for hosting the Bathurst 1000 supercar race at Mount Panorama each year, Bathurst’s beauty extends beyond its motor obsession. Here, you’ll find a regional hub teeming with culture and community. Art admirers can head to the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, and history buffs can get their fix at the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum.

Dubbo to Lightning Ridge

348 kilometres

After an easy 45-minute drive, you’ll find the southern gateway to the incredible Warrumbungles mountain range. Whether you choose to hike the summit along The Breadknife and Grand High Tops walk, or simply repeat your Dubbo stargazing with clear, dazzling night skies at Australia’s first dark sky park, the Warrumbungles are an explorer’s dream; jagged formations explode out of the earth and shrubbery greens up the granite.

Lightning Ridge to Surat

335 kilometres

Over the border, a stop at Hebel’s monumental hotel is a must; pint and parma aside, it’s an old-school shack-like dwelling perfectly poised on the apricot-coloured earth. The building might be old and quirky, but the friendly locals and simple pub food is worth halting the car and camper for. If you want to head out bush while in Hebel, head west to Culgoa Floodplain National Park for a rare quiet, yet mighty, embrace of Queensland’s important wetlands.

To find out more about the rest of the journey, read the Winter 2022 edition of Caravanning Australia!

Image: Gulargambone (C) Destination NSW.

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