One thing Google can’t tell you

Last week, the decision was made that I’d be heading to The Big Red Bash in just over 3 weeks time to represent Club 4X4. I realised that I’d better start planning the trip!

Where to start?

I figured that the easiest place to start would be working out the broad route I’d take, and then fine tune exactly where to stay, what to visit, and hopefully what tracks to explore along the way.

There seemed to be three key choices.  Either head out through Dubbo and then make my way North West, up over the border and then zig zag towards Birdsville (the most direct).  Or, head North towards Brisbane, and then cut West.  Or, head west towards Broken hill, then down towards Adelaide before taking the Outback highway North.

I’ll be towing an offroad Camper Trailer with me for the trip, and while time is of the essence, it is important to me that I’m not too ambitious with how far I can travel per day.  I’ve planned on being able to spend 6 hours behind the wheel a day (without stops for breaks, sightseeing etc).

On this basis, and taking the most direct route (according to Google), my stopovers currently look like the following:

  • Nyngan
  • Eulo
  • Windorah
  • Birdsville

Google was useful in the broad Route Planning given that efficiency is at least to a degree important.  However, what I’ve found in general when trying to research in more detail is that I’m being served up the information that someone has ‘optimised’ for Google and not necessarily the best places to stop and see.  I’ve also checked out HEMA planning tools, and there are some great features here, with some great detail on points of interest, but I’m not down to the detailed planning phase for these to be really useful yet.

I know this will start to make me sound like an old person, but trying to trawl through all these web pages has not a fun or enjoyable experience.  It has been difficult and frustrating, and you always feel like you are being sold something. The reality is Google can serve me information, but its not really giving me what I want to know, and it can’t.

So, I’d like your help.  I’m sure plenty of you have driven along these routes.  I’d love to know the following:

  1. What are your thoughts on the routes and where I’m looking to stop. Which route would you take and why? Would you recommend other places along there to stay, and if so why?
  2. If you think back to your past adventures through this part of Australia, what were the highlights? Must sees?  Most memorable things?
  3. Any ideas for the route back?

Please share your thoughts here.  I’ll be finalising my plans in the coming week and I reckon Google is no match for your collective experience when it comes to making this trip something special, given its been way too long since I’ve ventured anywhere close to Birdsville.



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Comments 22

  1. When planning a trip to Birdsville, Google distance times are useless and unrealistic. Better to use Whereis which will give you far more accurate travel times.
    Additionally, you would be better served to also use Wikicamps, which can display not only the camp sites, but also free campsites, images of them, as well as other useful information.

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  2. from Broken Hill I’d head to Tibooburra and stay at the Aboriginal reserve (clean& Hot showers) then head across to Cameron Cnr stopping for refreshments of course continue to Innaminka stay on the town common and the Pub does a great feed too.
    Old Cordillo Downs rd to the largest wool shed then bush camp before Birdsville

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    2. That Aboriginal camp at Tib is a great place for camping. Stayed there a couple of years ago and pretty much had the place to ourselves. Not sure why it is not used by more campers.

  3. Good morning Aiden,
    I am not sure if you are under pressure to get there as quick as you can, but this is the route i would take myself:
    drive from Sydney to Bourke, cmp overnight at Mays Bend;
    Bourke to Tibooburra, through Wanaaring and then drive on The Cut Line.
    Tibooburra through Cameron’s corner to Innamincka, driving on Old Strzelecki Track,
    And from here to Birdsville, through Haddon Corner, if you can.
    This is the way I would like to take when I am ready for the Simpson Desert . I am sure you will get more suggestions. Anyway, enjoy the drive and have a good time, good luck, and keep us posted, and photos on the way would be nice!

  4. Hi Aiden, Geoff has nearly got it right I would go from Nyngan to Bourke,Bourke to Tibooburra,Tiboobuura to Innamincka via Camerons corner take the Old Strez track from Camerons to Innamincka then across to Birdsville.Coming home if time permits down the Birdsville track cut across to Arkaroola through the Flinders and home..Or down through Nappa Merrie,Jackson, Thargomindah and home

  5. Have a look at the Facebook page or website for Country Pub Camping. If you move every day then it’s nice to pull up at a pub have a meal and a few quite bevies. The locals can also give you tips on sites in the area. Most of the pubs will let you stay for free as long as you buy a beer or have a meal.
    I’d go one way and come back the other.

  6. I’ve been looking at a similiar route to your shortest route. From Eulo heading to Innaminka for the sunset cruise and a kayak on the cooper then taking Walkers crossing to the Birdsville track and then on to Birdsville and camp on the banks of Eyre creek in the simpson for a couple of nights. This is the first week of the NSW school holidays before the bash so hopefully will avoid much of the traffic . I have a SPOT tracking our trips so have the times I took to Birdsville via Cordillo downs or Windorah if you like, just email me.

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  7. I’d head for Tibooburra Innaminka then across walkers xing track to the Birdsville track then to Birdsville. If you would like a night with Phil at Mungerannie we’ll worth the 120 klm south for a night at the old pub.
    Been that way heaps of times in our Outback Spirit Tour Truck.

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  8. Hi Aiden,
    Whenever planning a trip, i use the RACQ website then jump to the trip planner, it gives you a route that sometimes has alternates and will also give you when you ask to view your trip you get distance and est time, then i’ll fine tune with the Hema aust road and 4wd tracks, i’d send you a suggestion but i’ll be travelling there from Cairns, see you there, cheers mate Tony Tolcher.

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  9. My family and I did the Simpson (east to west on the French Line) in 2012. At the start of the trip we linked up with family from NSW at Camerons Corner. I can verify what other people have said above; that you have to go by Camerons Corner, Innamincka (great camping), the Dig Tree, Haddon Corner (we skipped Old Cordillo Downs in favor of Haddon Corner), to Birdsville, to Big Red (try the 2nd dune while there) (every location mentioned has to be visited). If you can I really recommend overnighting at Noccundra on the way home. As a thought you could visit Old Cordillo Downs on the way to Noccundra. You get to see some of the Old Strez track following this route, and the dune country getting to Noccundra is a great introduction to the Simpson. From Noccundra you can drop straight down to Tibooburra to start the trip home. Enjoy…..

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  10. When going through Bourke way we stop at Girilambone overnight , free camp with shower, toilet covered seating, playground. Opposite the pub across the old railway. Quite often we don’t get away from home on time so this is a nice distance at 500 and something from Sydney. About 160 >180 more to Bourke I think.
    On the Cooper Creek near Windorah (toilets) another favourite.
    Wikicamps – low cost app. wouldn’t be without it, love it! Great for planning camps, sights, dumps etc.
    Mays Bend at North Bourke, free, no toilets. Depends on how busy it is but nice spot.
    Thanks for tips guys, we’re doing Sydney >Flinders >Lake Eyre > Longreach >Sydney ourselves in a few weeks. still in planning stage so all eyes and ears too.

  11. Hi Aiden, I have completed a couple of trips to Birdsville. The first trip was for the Birdsville Races. The second trip was was BRB18. If you have time it’s worth stopping in the country towns to experience the tourist attractions and the characters that lie in weight for the traveller. My mate and I like to road test the local bakeries and the pubs. Your first stop from Sydney could be Wellington (Wellington Caves) or Mudgee (Mudgee Bakery & cafe). Dubbo (Dubbo Goal & zoo or Village bakery & cafe). Narromine to say hi to Oh Ah Glenn McGrath (retired Test cricketer statue). Bourke or Louth. Trilby Station at Louth is worth the visit. Quilpie (Quilpie bakery). The goat races in the main street are entertaining. Don’t be surprised to see emus wandering in the Main Street. The bowling club puts on a good meal. Cunnummulla (Gidgee Bean cafe or Charlotte Plains artesian bore). Eulo (visit the gem shop & pub). Windorah (yabbie races). Birdsville. A quick, well earnt beer from the hotel and a pie from the Birdsville Bakery. Take a walk around the billabong to stretch your legs.

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