Tour Highlights: Dubbo Gaol, Radio Telescope Parkes, Cactus Garden, Mine Tour, Fish Traps, Opal Festival Celebrations, Lightning Ridge, Cruise on the PV Jandra, Thermal Pool, Bourke Museum, Broken Hill, Silverton, trilby Station
Welcome aboard our exciting Lightning Ridge Opal Festival and Broken Hill Tour. Today we travel to Jerilderie for our morning tea break. We continue on through Narrandera to West Wyalong for lunch. Our journey continues north through Forbes and Parkes, known as the Gateway to the Stars where we see The Dish (huge radio telescope). We stop at the Dish for our afternoon tea break. From here it is a short drive to Dubbo where we settle in for our Overnight Stay at the Comfort Inn Blue Lagoon.
This morning we enjoy a visit to the Old Dubbo Gaol. We join the Newell Highway and travel North to Gilgandra where we have time for lunch and a chance to explore the shops. We travel the short distance to Walgett, affectionately known as the gate, the gateway to the Opal Fields and the Outback. The name Walgett comes from an Aboriginal word meaning hollow in the ground where waters meet which is an appropriate name for the town that stands at the junction of the Barwon and Namoi Rivers. We visit the Walgett Historical Society and tour the Masonic Lodge. We continue to one of the most important opal fields in NSW, Lightning Ridge, Australias main producer of commercial value black opal.
We settle in for 3 Nights at the Coolabah Motel Walgett.
A leisurely start today, as we enjoy the Opal Festival Celebrations. Jewellers, buyers, wholesalers, miners, rock hounds, lapidary enthusiasts and tourists are invited to experience the best Lightning Ridge has to offer with this culmination of information, spectacular jewellery, collectables, great deals and fantastic networking opportunities. The Opal & Gem Expo boasts over 120 stalls with a huge range of products including gemstones, tools, lapidary supplies and lifestyle products. We visit the John Murray Art Gallery also the Outdoor Hot Artesian Baths. The remainder of the day is free to explore this outback mining town, visit the opal shops or just relax in the unique outback atmosphere. Tonight we enjoy dinner at our motel.
After a hearty breakfast we tour Bevans Cactus Gardens which has some species in excess of 100 years old. Bevans Cactus is the third largest nursery in the world and visiting is a Must See and Do activity whilst in Lightning Ridge. It is another wonderful example of the ingenuity and determination that makes Lightning Ridge such an interesting place to visit. We then do a 2 Hour tour of Lightning Ridge with Bevan. After lunch we experience a walk in mine tour. The rest of the day is at your own leisure with more chance to buy some opals at the Festival before returning to our motel for dinner.
A leisurely start today see the well preserved coolabah and box Scar Trees on the floodplains, 5km west of Walgett. Scar trees have had their bark removed by indigenous Australians for the creation of canoes, shelters, shields etc. We then travel to Bourke. In the early 1860s Bourke was established as a mercantile centre and port to serve sheep runs along the upper darling. Bourke is located where the Kidman Way meets the Darling River, a town on the edge of the wilderness, firmly etched in Australian folklore, with great historical, cultural and geographic significance. Between Brewarrina and Bourke is where the river changes its name from the Barwon River to the Darling. This afternoon we visit the Back O Bourke Exhibition. This world class exhibition showcases the history of western NSW and the Bourke area. It focuses on the people and the landscapes that have not only contributed to the life of Bourke but also the history of Australia. Using the latest technologies and display techniques you will be amazed at the stories of life out back! Then its time for an enjoyable and relaxing cruise on the paddle boat PV Jandra. We then settle into the Bourke Riverside Motel for our Overnight Stay.
Today we are joined by Stuart, a local guide, for the Mateship Country Tour. The tour includes an Orange Grove, Cotton and Gin Farm, and much more. We return to Bourke and see Fred Hollows grave at the Bourke Cemetery. We farewell Bourke and follow the Darling River and travel to the quiet and sleepy settlement of Louth. The town was established by Tom Matthews who was born in County Louth, Ireland who sought his fortune on the Victorian Goldfields in 1856, but soon found a better living as a tradesman on outback properties before establishing a hotel to service the river trade and the Cobb & Co coaches that used it as a stopover. We visit the Hotel for a refreshment or two (at own expense), now called Shindys Inn where outback hospitality is still alive. Our journey continues onto Trilby Station an outback farm, where we are greeted by our Host for our Overnight Stay. Before Dinner our Host, Liz will take you on a tour and talk on the history of the Station. Trilby Station has a great history, birds, plants, wildlife and of course the famous outback hospitality. (Facilities may be less elaborate but the hospitality is first class)
After breakfast we depart for Wilcannia, stopping at Tilpa for morning tea. We have a tour around Tilpa before enjoying lunch at the Court House Cafe Wilcannia. Following lunch we depart for Broken Hill and on arrival we have afternoon tea at the Tourist Information Centre before doing a small town tour. Then its time to relax and unwind at our motel before dinner at our Overnight stay at the Silver Haven Motor Inn, Broken Hill.