The drive from Sydney to Broken Hill is a long one, I’m not going to lie to you. From Sydney CBD, the shortest route is a 13 hour drive to travel the 1,142km distance to this outback city and is the last stop before you pass over the border into South Australia.
Wondering why you should visit Broken Hill? Think unforgettable memories as you step back in time with outback astronomy, a mine tour, art galleries, Mad Max movie locations, loveable camels and beautiful heritage buildings.
There are public transport options if you would prefer to search flights with Qantas or Regional Express and the journey will take you only three hours to Broken Hill airport.
If you compare the cost of flight prices and car hire to the cost of van hire and petrol, it would probably work out cheaper to drive than fly. Plus you then get to experience the stunning outback landscapes, mining towns and open road freedom a flight can’t offer you.
Twice a week, a train runs a return loop from Sydney to Broken Hill all year round but with the departure times at 6am arriving at 7pm, it will also take you 13 hours with no stops. A great budget option if you don’t want to drive.
Things to pack for your Sydney to Broken Hill trip
Once you hit the main outback highway, the places to stop are far and few between. I would highly recommend packing some essentials:
Snacks including sugary lollies
First Aid Kit
Nice to haves:
Petrol canister – we did not need this but if you are worried, you could pack one as a back up!
Road Atlas or GPS – If you are not on a Telstra phone plan then your signal may be patchy in the outback.
It may be wise to save your car insurance or breakdown cover contact numbers incase your 3G is slow and you find yourself in a sticky spot. But rest assured, all roads on the main routes are sealed and we found enough fuel stops along the way.
3 Sydney to Broken Hill Road Trip Options
There are three different routes from Sydney to Broken Hill with two being pretty similar following the main barrier highway through the outback.
It is truly a stunning drive to see the green rolling hills and trees slowly slip away into flat orange outback landscape, something you can’t see if you just head to Sydney airport and catch a flight to Broken Hill.
You’ll find the three best routes from Sydney to Broken Hill with awesome places to stop for resting, food or staying the night to break up your drive.
Route 1: Blue Mountains – Mudgee – Dubbo
As stated at the beginning, the quickest Broken Hill road trip route will take you 13 hours without stops if you drive through the Blue Mountains, Mudgee, Dubbo and out onto the Barrier Highway.
Fit in the Blue Mountains into your road trip plan
I started my trip by driving just under two hours to Leura in the Blue Mountains and stopping for food at Freudian Sip, a beautiful family run cafe serving local food (highly recommend the burger and chips served rare).
If you are doing a longer road trip and would like to stay the night, then check out our popular Blue Mountains guide.
Discover a French patisserie in Mudgee
My next leg of the journey was just over two hours to stay the night in Mudgee, a stunning New South Wales winery region with rolling hills and unique stores. You could easily spend two days of your road trip here, so make sure you read our article on the 10 best things to do in Mudgee.
There are many accomodation options if you are looking for travel deals but most regional towns will have a campground in their Showground with clean shower blocks, cooking and picnic areas and powered site options. At just $15 for an unpowered site, it was a perfect quick stop for my road trip from Sydney to Broken Hill .
We found an incredible French patisserie called Althea by Zin, serving delicious pastries, traditional croissants and best coffee. An excellent pit stop for breakfast before we hit the road again.
Stay in the middle of a Zoo in Dubbo
Dubbo is most famous for the Taronga Western Plains Zoo which is a large open range zoo specialising in large animals. If you are looking to make your road trip extra special, then check out their lodges, cabins and camping options and wake up right in the wild next to giraffes and zebras.
Looking for an amazing coffee and sandwich stop? I would highly recommend Press Cafe on the town’s main street, which is a quant home style cafe serving only the freshest meals. I got the mushroom, leek and feta toasted sandwich and I had zero regrets.
Similar to route 1, this one will take you through the Blue Mountains and Orange, then onto the Barrier Highway.
Take a day off driving and visit a winery in Orange
Orange is a stunning region known for its gourmet wine and food, hikes with views of the rolling countryside and heritage towns. With plenty of accommodation options, you could plan two days into your travel dates here to explore all the things Orange has to offer.
If you are looking for the cheapest day on your route from Sydney to Broken Hill then don’t worry, you can still find a budget friendly restaurant in Orange. I would recommend The Smoking Brothers at Elwoods Eatery, an awesome BBQ style restaurant!
Get a picture with The Big Bogan in Nyngan
On both routes 1 and 2, your last stop before the barrier highway is Nyngan in the Bogan Shire area. If you are a fan of the big things in Australia then stop in the town centre for a chance to see The Big Bogan, something you wouldn’t see if you chose to fly!
You can also camp by the Bogan river which is a great kayaking spot or discover the rich indigenous history and aboriginal rock art.
From rolling hills to the outback on the Barrier Highway
Both routes 1 and 2 enter onto the Barrier Highway for the rest of the journey into the outback and Broken Hill. All roads are sealed with only a few patches of red dirt roads, which is great as a lot of car hire companies exclude dirt roads in their terms.
Once you enter the highway, you can travel for over 100kms without passing a fuel stop and have patchy phone reception so I would recommend filling up at every opportunity. Here are some highlights on the long track.
See an open mine at Cobar
On you travels from Sydney to Broken Hill you will pass through a few mining regions with Cobar being the largest copper mining town on route. You can see an open mine or head along to Mt Grenfell to see some ancient aboriginal rock art and explore the stunning national park.
There are a few hotels you can check in to if you need a rest and some excellent coffee stops including a traditional Cornish tea room called Country Simplicity, but I would personally recommend Gumnut Gifts and Homewares for a sandwich!
Support an Australian icon at Emmdale Roadhouse
After Cobar, the accommodation options for the remaining 450kms are limited so I would recommend doing this journey in one. Of course, roadhouses are an Australian Icon in the outback, sometimes being the only place for refreshments for hundreds of kilometres.
Stop in Emmdale Roadhouse for your fuel, something to eat and a chat with the locals, you can even buy one of their t shirts.
Need to stretch your legs for longer? Take a detour to Darling river, the third longest river in Australia.
Detour to White Cliffs to see the hidden underground town
Just before arriving in Broken Hill, you can take a detour along a dirt road the opal mining town of White Cliffs boasting a community of underground dwellings. Referred to as ‘dugouts’, locals have renovated the mine shafts into their beautiful underground home to keep out of the high heat all year round. You can take a tour of the white house underground dwelling.
Whilst you are here, you must explore Mutawintji national park. You can view the expansive red desert landscape and see one of the best collections of Aboriginal rock art in New South Wales, worth adding that time onto your road trip i’m sure!
Route 3: Bowral – Wagga Wagga – Hay – Mungo National Park
At just over 14 hours and 1,216km, this long drive will take you South of Sydney through the Southern Highlands before you turn west and hit the incredible Mungo National Park, which is a highlight on our Broken Hill article.
If you haven’t been to Bowral, then this is a must visit
You could spend a whole week exploring the Southern Highlands with incredible restaurants, wineries and Kangaroo National national park to keep you entertained. Whether you want to check into a hotel or stop for a day, read our best things to do in Bowral guide on the region and you won’t be disappointed.
Pick Strawberries in Wagga Wagga
Wagga Wagga is a vibrant regional town with the best coffee stops, incredible restaurants, laneway art, stunning parks and heritage buildings. Why not stop at Bidgee Strawberries and Cream Farm for a road trip snack picked straight from the plant yourself?
See a sheep sheering demonstration in Hay
Visit Shear Outback, a multi award winning attraction highlighting the iconic outback activity with a demonstration, hall of fame and museum. If this doesn’t interest you then you can hire free bicycles to stretch your legs from the Hay information centre!
Don’t miss the incredible Mungo National Park
Steeped in Aboriginal history, Mungo National Park looks like you have landed on the moon. If you can time your travel dates right to include a night stay then set up in one of the three camping grounds and you will be blown away by the sunset and sunrise here.
Now you have our three route options for a Sydney to Broken Hill road trip, what are you waiting for? Book your car hire, plan your road trip and explore the outback; you won’t regret it! Even if you decide to look for cheap flights or book onto the regional express for your return journey, i’m sure your road trip will be unforgettable.
Make sure you check out our other articles about visiting Broken Hill!
This article is written by Londoner In Sydney team member, Amii Freeman.
Hi I’m Amii! I’m from Darlington in the North East of England. I moved from London to Sydney in 2019 for a slower pace and to be by the coast, without having to give up my love of cities. My passion is in film and TV, I screen-write and act as much as I can. In my spare time I love trying new food, exploring new places, kayaking, hiking and cycling.Follow me on Instagram @amiifreeman!