Escorted small group tour of New South Wales and Victoria

Discover the Brewarrina fish traps, the World Heritage Site of Mungo man and lady stopping in Mungo National Park and other significant locations such as Broken Hill. Then continue through the Victorian goldfields as well as Mildura and Canberra. A small group tour for senior couples and mature solo travellers to the edge of Outback Australia.

From $9,620 NZD

Available

Highlights

  1. 1. Learn about aquaculture in Aboriginal culture at Brewarrina Fish traps.
  2. 2. Visit Lake Mungo World Heritage Site for extraordinary landscapes and ancient Aboriginal history.
  3. 3. Learn about the cattle King whilst enjoying a glass of champagne at sunset in the desert near Silverton.
  4. 4. Explore Canberra, the nation’s capital, and visit the National Museum to consolidate much of what we and seen and heard.
Escorted small group tour of New South Wales and Victoria itinerary

Departure Dates

Departure Date Price
07 March 2022

Ends 19 March 2022

Selected
28 March 2022

Ends 09 April 2022

02 May 2022

Ends 14 May 2022

05 June 2022

Ends 17 June 2022

04 July 2022

Ends 16 July 2022

01 August 2022

Ends 13 August 2022

05 September 2022

Ends 17 September 2022

03 October 2022

Ends 15 October 2022

31 October 2022

Ends 12 November 2022

13 February 2023

Ends 25 February 2023

13 March 2023

Ends 25 March 2023

10 April 2023

Ends 22 April 2023

08 May 2023

Ends 20 May 2023

05 June 2023

Ends 17 June 2023

31 July 2023

Ends 12 August 2023

04 September 2023

Ends 16 September 2023

02 October 2023

Ends 14 October 2023

16 October 2023

Ends 28 October 2023

06 November 2023

Ends 18 November 2023

Small group tour of New South Wales and Victoria.

An escorted small group Australian outback tour for mature and senior travellers is a journey of learning around the Southern edges of the Murray Darling basin and up to the upper southern part of this complex river basin north of Mildura, across the historic Goldfields of Victoria that made Melbourne the richest city in the world to the Nation's capital Canberra and to Sydney. This small group educational tour is offered from late October to March, linking into tours of similar duration either before of after of New Zealand or to Tasmania for it's colonial or wildlife heritage. Though you can enjoy a walking program in New Zealand or the Flinders island as well with Odyssey at this time of the year.

It provides the traveller on this escorted small group tour of Western New South Wales and the Northern part of Victoria the learning opportunity to gain an insight into Aboriginal habitation land management over some 40,000 years and then more recently the veneer of European settlement in the last two centuries on the landscape. It is part of a portfolio of Australian Outback tours offered by Odyssey for like minded people who are curious about Outback Australia.

The itinerary is designed for the traveller who is still time constrained but curious to learn more about the deep history of Australia. This educational tour is for 12 days from Sydney to Sydney.

This, like all Odyssey Traveller small group tours is limited to a maximum of 12 people.

This escorted small group tour has an interest in both Aboriginal and European settlement history. Over the period of this escorted small group tour the itinerary takes you to visit the UNSECO World Heritage Sites of Mungo Man and lady. Gain an understanding and appreciation of the complexity and features of the Murray Darling Basin through some spectacular scenery. The program skirts around the edges of the "Aussie Outback", but is not an outback adventure for the traveller. Whilst the Murray-Darling begins in Queensland, by the time the river system reaches New South Wales it represents one the most complex river systems in Australia against which modern agriculture has placed substantial stress. We see the historic and contemporary evidence of this in the lakes around Menindee. and the many landscape changes including the Mallee, observing and learning about the river woodland galleries, arid lands, saltbush plains, agriculture practices; as well as the mining and railway history of Southern Australia.

This twelve night fully escorted small group tour takes the senior traveller with an interest in discovering more than usual tourist “must sees”, into outback NSW and the northern-most part of Victoria, through, what for most, will be unfamiliar territory. The tour is specially designed for seniors with an interest in getting off the beaten track, but with limited time at their disposal. On this tour you won’t get to Uluru or the Great Barrier Reef, but you will experience some of the country’s most extraordinary landscapes, and explore a history stretching back some 40,000 years.

Your itinerary

Our tour begins and ends in Sydney and, although we cover only a fraction of the Australian continent, includes some long travel days. This is a vast country, and in order to make the most of our time, we will have some early starts, but with plenty of stops along the way to explore the nation’s beauty and variety. From Sydney we head west through the Blue Mountains to Bathurst, modern Australia’s first inland town. Our first overnight stop will be in Dubbo, some five and a half hours west of Sydney. From there we make our way through legendary outback towns such as Brewarrina, Bourke, Broken Hill, Mildura and Echuca to Canberra, the nation’s capital, before returning to Sydney.

In Brewarrina we visit the fish traps installed by the indigenous inhabitants some 40,000 years ago, making them one of the world’s oldest man-made structures. In Broken Hill and Silverton, over 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) west of Sydney, we explore the origins of giant mining company BHP and discover a city, based on the mining wealth, which was to have such an enormous impact on the development of the country. Lake Mungo World Heritage Site takes us back into Aboriginal deep history, while just an hour and a half south in Mildura we leap forward into the 19th century impact of wide spread irrigation with a back story linking this part of Australia to Canada and California . We’ll drive back east along the banks of the Murray River, the country’s longest river, through wine rich country, stopping to taste a little along the way, and then on through some of the nation’s most fertile cropping and grazing land.

This is a tour for those willing to scratch beneath the surface, a trip that appeals to visitors who are ready to go beyond the icons of the Great Barrier reef, the Sydney Opera house and Uluru. We can’t show you everything the country has to offer, but we can let you experience its vast distances and amazing variety of landscapes, geology, land use and history. Join other like minded companions on an extraordinary journey covering several thousand kilometres and 40,000 years of history. This is a small group tour that is rich in contrasts and suitable for the solo traveller, as well as for those travelling with companions.

The Itinerary

This small group escorted tour with your tour guide meets in Sydney where the trip begins and ends 13 days later.

Leaving Sydney, our outback Australia tours itinerary follows at time the path of the iconic Cobb & Co. stagecoach to Dubbo and then to Brewarrina finishing the day in Bourke. The outback town of Bourke has shaped the history of many of the places we will visit. Established in the mid-1950s as a developing town on the Darling River, by the 1890s Bourke became the focus of the world's wool industry. The Darling River had more than eighty boats transporting wool through the outback to ports like Adelaide. With the opening of railways in the early 20th century - which didn't have to deal with the unreliability of river flows - the end of river traffic in outback Australia was in decline.

Bourke today is a town with an outback spirit, on the edge of the wilderness, and with a great sense of Australian adventure in its historical, cultural, and geographic significance. The group spends time in Brewarrina, we stop off to see one of the world's oldest surviving man-made structures: the Brewarrina Fish Traps. The Ngemba people are the custodians of the fish traps, a complex aquaculture network estimated to be over 40, 000 years old. An elaborate network of rock weirs and pools form a series of complex dry-stone walls and holding ponds, stretching for around half a kilometre along the Barwon riverbed. For the Aboriginal people of western and northern New South Wales, the fish traps and surrounds are extremely significant for their spiritual, cultural, traditional and symbolic meanings. The creation of the fish traps, and the laws governing their use, helped shape the spiritual, political, social, ceremonial and trade relationships between Aboriginal groups from across the greater landscape. Brewarrina was one of the great Aboriginal meeting places of eastern Australia.

We'll stop to visit Mt. Oxley on our way back from Brewarrina to Bourke. Mt Oxley, that was once climbed by explorers Stuart and Hume in 1829 in search of the "inland sea".Australian explorers from Flinders to Sturt had an almost obsession with finding the inland sea, that was never there.

The next morning we will spend some time exploring Bourke township before heading to our next destination, Cobar. We spend some time in Cobar to view the historic township and learn a little about its mining history and about Stanley Kidman.

In the late 1800s Cobar was Australia’s leading producer of copper and the economy boomed. At its peak the town had a population of 10,000 and, although this has declined greatly in modern times, mining still provides the town’s main industry. One of the local attractions is the extraordinary view over the open cut mine.

Mount Grenfell Historic Site protects the rock art of the Ngiyampaa people. For thousands of years before Europeans settled in this part of NSW, Ngiyampaa people regularly gathered around the semi-permanent waterhole and took shelter in the overhangs of what is now a national park. In the surrounding rocky ridge, you can see richly coloured paintings of human and animal figures, representations of the natural environment, and hand stencils which are of ceremonial significance to traditional owners. This extensive Aboriginal rock art is now protected within the park and can be reached following the short, relatively easy (3 kilometre return) Mount Grenfell art site walk.

After Cobar we will continue to Broken Hill via Wilcannia. Wilcannia was an important colonial era port on the Darling for wool.

Broken Hill & Menindee

Our itinerary takes this small group Australian outback tour up to Broken Hill, an iconic destination in outback Australia. The tour arranges to visit Silverton nearby Broken Hill. Silverton's mining days are long over, but it has a place in the folklore of followers of the Mad Max films. The following day we have a full day tour, walking Broken Hill, including a visit to Pro Hart Gallery. We leave for Mungo today travelling via Menindee and the lakes adjacent to the Darling River, down to Pooncarrie following the important Darling river. We visit the places where Burke and Wills stayed before heading into the unchartered outback as well as visiting one of the major sheep stations now a national park and onto Mungo.

Passing through the Mallee

In South-western New South Wales, this small group tour passes through swathes of mallee country. ‘Mallee woodlands’ have been listed by the Australian Department of Environment and Energy as one of the 32 ‘Major Vegetation Groups’ of Australia. Mallee country is defined by the predominance of the mallee eucalyptus, a stocky eucalyptus with several stems, which grows on semi-arid soil. Mallee country spreads in a belt across the south of Australia, centring around the Murray River in western Victoria and eastern South Australia, the Eyre Peninsula west of Adelaide, and the 'wheat belt' of Western Australia.

For European settlers, the mallee was a 'dreadful country', desolate and inhospitable, but Aboriginal Australians made a home in these areas for at least 40, 000 years. For the numerous Aboriginal groups who inhabited the Australian mallee, the Murray River was a source of life, providing fishing, meat, eggs, and fibrous water plants. The roots of kumpung were steamed in an earth oven, creating a carbohydrate starch similar to flour, which was in turn used to bake cakes. Kumpung was also used to create twine, which was used for fishing nets, the weaving of bags, belts, and headbands, and traded for stone axeheads and myall spears at great gatherings. Murray River peoples also used fire to create pasture mosaics.

Though each group held custodianship over particular lands, the Murray River peoples shared an overlapping culture, with closely-related languages and spiritual beliefs. People around the Murray River believed in an all-Father who was the creator of all things, though he bore different names to different peoples – Bunjil the eaglehawk to the Wotjobaluk and Kulin people, Tha-tha-pulli to the Wadi Wadi, and Tulong to the Dadi Dadi.

UNESCO World Heritage Site:

Mungo National Park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site for some 40 years.

For travellers on this guided tour the fascinating part when looking at the landscape of Mungo and the Willandra Lakes is that it is a geological window where this small group tour can look into the deep past of old Australia. Buried here in thick layers of sand and clay are the tell-tale signs of how the climate, waters and landforms have changed over the last 100,000 years. And for at least 85,000 years humans have shared that journey. The ancient Willandra people thrived with the abundance of the lakes, then adapted to drier, hungrier times of the last ice age and survived to the present day. Their story can be discovered in the folds of the land, along with their fireplaces, burials, middens and tools. The people of Lake Mungo and the Willandra Lakes have a long past that is important to the whole world in archaeological studies and human evolution.

The history of these fossil lakes is deeply entwined with what has happened in the dune fields, rivers and mountains hundreds of kilometres away. A geological stable region sediment from the Queensland mountains has washed through the Australian outback and accumulated, piling up like the pages in a history book, waiting to be read in this national park. But here it is not just the recent geologically record that is important.

Lake Mungo is one of the most important archaeological sites in Australia. A unique set of circumstances have created a landscape where it is possible to get an insight into Aboriginal life some 40,000 years ago. At that time Lake Mungo was one of series of large, deep, interlocking lakes teeming with large fish. It was 20 km long, 10 km wide and 15 m deep. On the lake's eastern shore sand dunes provided sheltered campsites. Not surprisingly Aboriginal hunters and gatherers settled on the shores, established campsites and enjoyed a healthy diet of fish, crustaceans and animals which came to drink at the water's edge.

About 40,000 years ago, Mungo Lady lived around the shores of Lake Mungo. A time of plenty was coming to an end at Willandra Lakes, when the basins were full of water and teeming with life. The human population was at its peak, and Mungo Lady was the daughter of many mothers - the generations before her that had lived at Lake Mungo since the Dreamtime. She collected bush tucker such as fish, shellfish, yabbies, wattle seeds and emu eggs, nourished her culture and taught her daughters the women's lore.

When Mungo Lady died, we know her family mourned for her. Her body was cremated, the remaining bones were crushed, burned again and then buried.

About 42,000 -40,000 years ago out here in what is now the Australian outback, Mungo Man lived around the shores of Lake Mungo with his family. A time of abundance in the Willandra Lakes system was drawing to a close, but he could still hunt many species of game, including some of the soon-to-be-extinct megafauna. Mungo Man cared for his Country and kept safe the special men's knowledge. By his lore and ritual activity, he kept the land strong and his culture alive.

When he was young Mungo Man lost his two lower canine teeth, possibly knocked out in a ritual. He grew into a man nearly 1.7m in height. Over the years his molar teeth became worn and scratched, possibly from eating a gritty diet or stripping the long leaves of water reeds with his teeth to make twine. As Mungo Man grew older his bones ached with arthritis, especially his right elbow, which was so damaged that bits of bone were completely worn out or broken away. The condition of arthritis was so advanced that he would not have been able to fully extend his arm or turn his hand properly. Such wear and tear is typical of people who have used a woomera to throw spears over many years.

Ancient footprints

A key feature of the Meeting Place interpretation centre in the UNESCO World heritage site National park is the re-creation of part of the ancient human tracks that were re-discovered in 2003. The footprints record some frozen moments in the lives of Aboriginal people who travelled across a damp claypan around 20,000 years ago. This is the largest known collection in the world of such ancient human footprints.

Today these fragile relics are specially protected. The footprints are extremely precious to the people who are directly descended from those who made them so long ago, and they are important to all humanity. To let everyone experience something of the wonder of the tracks, a section has been reproduced as an accurate replica at the Meeting Place.

The ability to go so far back in human settlement over such a large area makes for a truly fascinating and touching visit in the Mungo National park as part of this unique Australia tour. This escorted small group tour spends 2 days with the tour leader and local guides exploring and learning about the park, its unique wildlife and sees an amazing sunset, we hope.. in Australia's outback.

From Mungo to Victoria and then Canberra.

From Mungo, we travel to Victoria and Mildura. The town is the work of two Canadians, the Chaffey brothers, whose story we follow today. We continue on to Echuca, Bendigo for stories of the gold rush and eventually onto Canberra for 2 nights. Canberra is where at the National museum we tie so much of what we seen and observed over the last 10 days all together through the indigenous first nation and colonial Australia displays. After lunch we have time to visit the National Art gallery in Australia's capital. After Canberra we return to Sydney the following day with a stop at one of the leading National trust properties before reaching the city.

Articles about Australia published by Odyssey Traveller:

For all the articles Odyssey Traveller has published for mature aged and senior travellers, click through on this link.

External articles to assist you on your visit to Australia:

Published December 2021

Itinerary

13 days

Day 1: Sydney - Dubbo

Accommodation: Dubbo RSL motel or similar

We meet mid morning 10.30-11.00am in central Sydney to head to Bathurst and onto Dubbo. Those of you from overseas may be surprised to discover just how low these “mountains” are, but the early European settlers found them a difficult barrier to westward expansion, and they were not officially crossed by Europeans until 1813. The mountains are ancient, and well weathered into deep ravines and gullies, causing dramatic and unexpected landscapes.

Bathurst we break for afternoon tea and a walking tour introduction to the colonial settlement of New South Wales

Followed by a group evening meal.

(D)

Day 2: Bourke

Accommodation: Darling River motel or similar

This morning we begin our drive to Bourke.

On our way to Bourke we pass through the town of Nyngan, where we’ll stop for morning coffee, and visit the Shearing Shed Museum.

From there we continue to Brewarrina where we take a guided tour of the ancient Aboriginal Fish Traps which date back over 30,000 years. These heritage-listed traps, stretching for half a kilometre along the Barwon River, present us with an extraordinary system of rock weirs, on a site where neighbouring Indigenous tribes gathered for thousands of years for ceremonies and trade. Here we will meet with our Aboriginal guide who will explain the working of the traps, still used by local children to catch fish in the traditional way.

The Brewarrina fish traps are estimated to be over 40,000 years old and one of the oldest man-made structures on earth. This elaborate network of rock weirs and pools stretches for around half a kilometre along the riverbed and was built by ancient tribes, to catch the fish as they swam upstream.

Bourke, on the Darling River, is an historic outback town. It was once an important river port on the Darling, with wool from across western NSW and S-W Queensland being transported to Bourke by bullock wagon and then shipped down the river to South Australia. Consequently it has an impressive Court House, a number of fine public buildings, and a solidity which is the result of its early prosperity.

Dinner tonight will be in a local restaurant.

(B)

Day 3: Broken hill

Accommodation: The Lodge Outback motel or similar

We have a long drive today and an early start as we travel from Bourke to Broken Hill.

Our first stop will be in the mining town of Cobar where we’ll visit The Great Cobar Heritage Centre and stop to view the open cut copper mine from the Fort Bourke Hill Lookout.

From Cobar we continue along the Barrier Highway to Broken Hill, stopping at Wilcannia, where we have time for refreshments and a look at what was once another important river port, transporting the wool clip to the ports of Adelaide!

Group dinner this evening.

(B, D)

Day 4: Broken Hill

Accommodation: The Lodge Outback motel or similar

Today we spend in Broken Hill, starting with a guided tour of the historic centre. Broken Hill, Australia’s first Heritage Listed city, has always been associated with silver, lead and zinc mining. Many of the streets are named after metals, minerals and compounds and, during our tour, we will learn more about its links with the mining industry.

The group’s day tour of Broken hill, which was named by Charles Sturt, begins with a walking tour in the morning of Argent Street, Broken Hill’s Main Street with a local guide. Here Government influenced Architectural design from the Victorian period reigns, from the courthouse to the post office. The group gains an appreciation of the transformation from wild west mining to organised unionists managing the town.

We spend some time visiting the mining museum but what is also important gain an appreciation of the collective work of the “Brushmen of the Bush” so that as we travel into the landscape of the desert, the eye has an appreciation and understanding of this group of Artists.

Broken Hill has more art galleries than any other inland town or city in Australia as well as a strong Regional Art Gallery with works by Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, Clifton Pugh, and Lloyd Rees to view.

The Albert Kersten Mining and Minerals Museum, which we will visit at the end of our tour, will provide us with more detailed information about the history of mining in the region.

In the afternoon we will visit the the historic town of Silverton, established in 1883. It was once a thriving mining community, with a population of some 3000, but it now has just a few permanent residents. Some of the significant historic buildings, which are part of Silverton’s unique heritage, are well preserved and still in use today which we’ll visit: the School Museum and the Silverton Gaol. Australian poet, Dame Mary Gilmore, taught at Silverton between 1887-1889.

A third museum in the town is dedicated to Mad Max 2. At the end of our visits day we’ll have some time for dinner at the local hotel (own arrangements).

On our way back to Broken Hill we’ll stop at the Mundi Mundi Plains lookout for an incredible view of the surrounding area. The next stop is at the Living Desert and Sculptures Park, located just outside Broken Hill. Here we view the sculptures and enjoy the sunset before returning to our hotel.

The Living Desert is Broken Hill City Council’s contribution to the environment, for the protection of native flora and fauna and for the better management of our ecosystem and sustainability. It is located in the Barrier Ranges and is just 12km from the Broken Hill. It is a unique 2400ha reserve which was established in 1992. The sculptures were added to the park in 1983 and can be easily accessed via a walking trail that begins at the park’s picnic area.

(B)

Day 5: Mungo National Park

Accommodation: The Lodge

This morning we leave Broken Hill for Lake Mungo, a World Heritage Site. On our way to Lake Mungo we stop in Menindee.

The township of Menindee is situated between the Menindee Lakes and the Darling River. Established in 1852 by Thomas Pain, Menindee is the oldest European settlement in western NSW, and the first town to appear on the Darling. Back in the 1880s, the Darling saw cargo-laden paddle steamers churning their way to and from South Australia. In Menindee, we visit the places where explorers Burke and Wills stayed before heading into the uncharted outback, as well as visiting one of the local sheep stations, now a national park, that also has an association with the expedition.

The Menindee Lakes are also noted, except in times of extreme drought, as an inland wonderland for water birds and a vital source of water for neighbouring citrus orchards and vegetable farms.

From Menindee we continue to Lake Mungo via Pooncarie.

Don’t expect there to be any water in Lake Mungo. That all dried up many thousands of years ago. Until 15,000, years ago, however, the region was a vast lake, its waters rising and ebbing according to climatic change, making Mungo a preferred habitat for a dazzling diversity of wildlife. Giant kangaroos, wombats and other mega fauna roamed the land. A treasure trove of fossils is a legacy of this extraordinary heritage.

The abundance of the lake also made Mungo an ideal location for Aboriginal settlement. Tribes camped and fished along the shores, hunted for food and quarried stone from rock outcrops on the lake floor. Mungo is thus the site of one of earth’s longest continuous human habitations. The cremated remains of “Mungo Lady” and the skeleton of “Mungo Man”, found in the park, date back some 30,000 to 40,000 years.

Lake Mungo is one of the most important archaeological sites in Australia. A unique set of circumstances has created a landscape where it is possible to get an insight into Aboriginal life some 40,000 years ago. At that time Lake Mungo was one of series of large, deep, interlocking lakes teeming with large fish. It was 20 km long, 10 km wide and 15 m deep. On the lake’s eastern shore sand dunes provided sheltered campsites. Not surprisingly Aboriginal hunters and gatherers settled on the shores, established campsites and enjoyed a healthy diet of fish, crustaceans and animals which came to drink at the water’s edge.

About 16,000 years ago the lakes dried up leaving a 25 km-long sand dune, called a lunette, which stretched along the eastern edge of the lake and was, in places, up to 40 metres high. When shepherds, many of whom were Chinese, arrived in the area in the 1860s they called the lunette the Walls of China.

Mungo National Park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site for some 40 years.

For travellers on this guided tour the fascinating part when looking at the landscape of Mungo and the Willandra Lakes is that it is a geological window where this small group tour can look into the deep past of old Australia. Buried here in thick layers of sand and clay are the tell-tale signs of how the climate, waters and landforms have changed over the last 100,000 years. And for at least 45,000 years humans have shared that journey. The ancient Willandra people thrived with the abundance of the lakes, then adapted to drier, hungrier times of the last ice age and survived to the present day. Their story can be discovered in the folds of the land, along with their fireplaces, burials, middens and tools. The people of Lake Mungo and the Willandra Lakes have a long past that is important to the whole world in archaeological studies and human evolution.

The history of these fossil lakes is deeply entwined with what has happened in the dunefields, rivers and mountainshundreds of kilometres away. A geological stable region sediment from the Queensland mountains has washed through the Australian outback and accumulated, piling up like the pages in a history book, waiting to be read in this national park. But here it is not just the recent geologically record that is important.

Lake Mungo is one of the most important archaelogical sites in Australia. A unique set of circumstances have created a landscape where it is possible to get an insight into Aboriginal life some 40,000 years ago. At that time Lake Mungo was one of series of large, deep, interlocking lakes teeming with large fish. It was 20 km long, 10 km wide and 15 m deep. On the lake’s eastern shore sand dunes provided sheltered campsites. Not surprisingly Aboriginal hunters and gatherers settled on the shores, established campsites and enjoyed a healthy diet of fish, crustaceans and animals which came to drink at the water’s edge.

About 16,000 years ago the lakes dried up leaving a 25 km-long sand dune, called a lunette, which stretched along the eastern edge of the lake and was, in places, up to 40 metres high. When shepherds, many of whom were Chinese, arrived in the area in the 1860s they called the lunette the Walls of China.

Lake Mungo’s importance are threefold.

  • It has “one of the longest continual records of Aboriginal life in Australia ” having been occupied for over 50,000 years.
  • The skeletons found in the sands of the lunette are the “oldest known fully modern humans outside Africa” and,
  • the skeleton of Mungo Woman (or Mungo I as she is officially known), which has been radiocarbon dated to around 40,000 years ago, “has provided the oldest evidence of ritual cremation in the world.”

As a small group touring the lake and the National park, take time whilst at Lake Mungo to gaze across the dry lake bed to contemplate the idea that once, tens of thousands of years ago, here in the Australian outback was a important meeting place for the indigenous Aborigines. Aborigines painted themselves with ochre, ate fish and mussels from the lake, buried and cremated their dead, cooked meat in simple hearths and ovens, sewed skins to make cloaks and shaped bones and stones into tools and weapons. If you want to glimpse what life was like for Aborigines when our European ancestors were still living in caves then Lake Mungo is a genuinely unforgettable experience.

About 40,000 years ago, Mungo Lady lived around the shores of Lake Mungo. A time of plenty was coming to an end at Willandra Lakes, when the basins were full of water and teeming with life. The human population was at its peak, and Mungo Lady was the daughter of many mothers – the generations before her that had lived at Lake Mungo since the Dreamtime. She collected bush tucker such as fish, shellfish, yabbies, wattle seeds and emu eggs, nourished her culture and taught her daughters the women’s lore.

When Mungo Lady died, we know her family mourned for her. Her body was cremated, the remaining bones were crushed, burned again and then buried.

About 42,000 -40,000 years ago out here in what is now the Australian outback, Mungo Man lived around the shores of Lake Mungo with his family. A time of abundance in the Willandra Lakes system was drawing to a close, but he could still hunt many species of game, including some of the soon-to-be-extinct megafauna. Mungo Man cared for his Countryand kept safe the special men’s knowledge. By his lore and ritual activity, he kept the land strong and his culture alive.

When he was young Mungo Man lost his two lower canine teeth, possibly knocked out in a ritual. He grew into a man nearly 1.7m in height. Over the years his molar teeth became worn and scratched, possibly from eating a gritty diet or stripping the long leaves of water reeds with his teeth to make twine. As Mungo Man grew older his bones ached with arthritis, especially his right elbow, which was so damaged that bits of bone were completely worn out or broken away. The condition of arthritis was so advanced that he would not have been able to fully extend his arm or turn his hand properly. Such wear and tear is typical of people who have used a woomera to throw spears over many years.

Mungo Man reached a good age for the hard life of a hunter-gatherer, and died when he was about 50. His family mourned for him, and carefully buried him in the lunette, on his back with his hands crossed in his lap, and sprinkled with red ochre. Mungo Man is the oldest known example in the world of such a ritual.

When Mungo Lady and Mungo Man turned up some 40 years ago they rocked the scientific community. They have been dated to 42,000 years old – the oldest human remains in Australia and some of the oldest modern humans in the world outside Africa.

And when 20,000 year old footprints of the Willandra people were found in 2003, they also rocked archaeological records. They are the only Pleistocene footprints in Australia and the most numerous yet found anywhere in the world.

Ancient footprints

A key feature of the Meeting Place interpreatation centre in the UNESCO World heritage site National park is the re-creation of part of the ancient human tracks that were re-discovered in 2003. The footprints record some frozen moments in the lives of Aboriginal people who travelled across a damp claypan around 20,000 years ago. This is the largest known collection in the world of such ancient human footprints.

Today these fragile relics are specially protected. The footprints are extremely precious to the people who are directly descended from those who made them so long ago, and they are important to all humanity. To let everyone experience something of the wonder of the tracks, a section has been reproduced as an accurate replica at the Meeting Place.

These finds are remarkable enough in the Australian archeological record, but perhaps the most important thing about the Willandra Lakes is how such discoveries can be connected with the landscape and climate. Places like Mungo are rare, where changes in an environment can be matched with how people have lived there in a continuous record across vast ages.

The scientific evidence shows that Aboriginal people have lived at Mungo for at least 45,000 years. This is the dated age of the oldest stone artefacts that have been found so far, and represents a lineage that extends back over some 2000 generations. But many Aboriginal people say they have been here even longer, reaching back into the Dreamtime, perhaps forever. The long history of occupation at Mungo has combined with ideal conditions for the preservation of some types of relics to create an archaeological treasure house complete with Aboriginal rock art.

Today, the Paakantji, the Mutthi Mutthi, the Ngiyampaa and all Aboriginal people hold their Willandra ancestors and their story as precious gifts to be shared with all people.

The ability to go so far back in human settlement over such a large area makes for a truly fascinating and touching visit in the Mungo National park as part of this unique Australia tour. This escorted small group tour spends 2 days with the tour leader and local guides exploring and learning about the park, its unique wildlife and sees an amazing sunset, we hope.. in Australia‘s outback.

Lake Mungo’s importance as a World heritage area is threefold:

  • It has “one of the longest continual records of Aboriginal life in Australia “, having been occupied for over 50,000 years.
  • The skeletons found in the sands of the lunette are the “oldest known fully modern humans outside Africa”, and
  • the skeleton of Mungo Woman (or Mungo I as she is officially known), which has been radiocarbon dated to around 40,000 years ago, “has provided the oldest evidence of ritual cremation in the world.”

Lake Mungo is also the site of the famous “Great Wall of China” lunar style landscape, and this evening we take a guided sunset tour of the region before dinner at Mungo Lodge.

(B, D)

Day 6: Mildura

Accommodation: TBC

Early this morning there may be be time to further explore Lake Mungo, before we head south to the irrigation settlement of Mildura on the Murray River.

On arrival in Mildura we have a guided walk/drive through the town, with particular emphasis on the role the Chaffey brothers played on the region’s development.

After the harsh drought of the 1870s the Victorian government (this was before the Federation of the Australian states in 1901) began to search for irrigation options. Canadians, George and William Chaffey were developing an irrigation scheme in California when they met Alfred Deakin, then a Victorian Cabinet Minister. Deakin, impressed with their work, encouraged them to come to Australia to work on an irrigation scheme on the Murray River. The Victorian government offered an inducement of £300,000 for the task of improving Mildura and the Mallee over the next 20 years.

Despite a number of setbacks the irrigation project prospered, resulting in many of the features notable in Mildura today. The Chaffey plans included wide streets, an agricultural college, parks and churches. Our guided tour will take us on the “Chaffey Trail” visiting places such as Rio Vista, the historic home once lived in by W B Chaffey and his family, as well as the Mildura Grand Hotel, originally the Mildura Coffee Palace. (Mildura was established as a temperance colony despite the fact that the Chaffey brothers planted grapes and established a winery!)

After a break for lunch we take to the river on a paddle vessel. We have a two hour cruise downstream which takes us through Lock 11. A commentary provides us with an insight into the local environment and the history of paddle steamers in the region.

Tonight you have the opportunity to explore the local restaurant scene on your own, or take “pot luck” with your programme leader.

(B)

Day 7: Bendigo

Accommodation: Mercure Hotel Mildura or similar

We leave Mildura this morning and head south into Victoria. We stop at Swan Hill and then continue to Bendigo, once a thriving town during the gold rushes of the mid-19th century.

On our way to Swan Hill we divert via the small town of Sea Lake, in the heart of the Victorian Mallee. Sea Lake has recently joined the Victorian Silo Art Trail and we stop to admire The Space in Between, the work of street artists Drapl and The Zookeeper, which pays homage to nearby Lake Tyrrell and the Boorong People, with their deep and rich connection to both the night sky and the 120,000 year old salt lake.

Lake Tyrrell, just seven kilometres north of Sea Lake, is Victoria’s largest salt lake covering some 20,860 hectares. The reflective surface of the shallow, ancient lake can make for some amazing photography, and there is evidence of ongoing Indigenous occupation, going back 45,000 years.

From Sea lake we continue to Swan Hill, so named (apparently) by explorer Major Thomas Mitchell when he camped here in 1836 and was kept up all night by noisy black swans.

Our next stop will be at the Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement Museum. As the museum’s website explains: “The Pioneer Settlement lets you experience Australian history first hand. You will find real-life Mallee cottages, a hotel, schools and shops, plus our enormous collection of working tractors and machinery – sourced mostly from the local area. You can feel the heat in the blacksmith shop, listen to the sounds of the old Pianola or take a ride through our Mallee township on a horse and cart. As you wander the site, you can also chat to our staff and volunteers, all looking the part in costumes of the period. The Pioneer Settlement opened in 1966 after a joint community and government effort to recognise the unique history of our Murray Mallee region. By the 1970s, the Pioneer Settlement was one of the most popular tourism destinations in Victoria, if not Australia, and the concept has been emulated around the country.”

There are plenty of places for lunch at the museum before we continue to Bendigo with its elaborate Victorian streetscape, enormous cathedral and renowned art gallery. Bendigo has a rich heritage dating back to the time gold was discovered in the area in the 1850s. Since then, Bendigo has been the second highest producing goldfield in Australia and remains the seventh largest in the world.

The group’s local tour guide provides a talk about the history of Bendigo and its key buildings from the Victorian period. One of Bendigo’s most elegant streets is Pall Mall, in the city centre. At its southern end stands the grand Alexandra Fountain which was built in 1881 out of granite. Further along Pall Mall is the elaborate old post office (built between 1883 and 1887) which now houses the Bendigo Visitor Information Centre, and next door are the law courts (built between 1892 and 1896), also of similar architecture. On the corner of Pall Mall and Williamson Street is Bendigo’s most famous hotel, the lavishly adorned Shamrock, which was built in 1897. Rosalind Park, in the city’s centre, features a lookout tower offering impressive views across Bendigo, while Bendigo’s Sacred Heart Cathedral, built in 1896, is the largest Gothic cathedral in the southern hemisphere. Other attractions include several art galleries and the Golden Dragon Museum which is a tribute to the city’s long history of Chinese settlement.

Day 8: Echuca

Accommodation: Mercure Port of Echuca or similar

We spend the morning continuing our exploration of Bendigo with a guided visit to the Central Debra Gold Mine before visiting the Art Gallery and, time permitting, the Golden Dragon Museum. After lunch we continue we turn to the Murray River and the town of Echuca.

On arrival Echuca this afternoon we explore the old wharf area of the town. In its heyday, from about 1860 to the early 1900s, Echuca was a bustling, pioneering outpost. Paddle steamers ferried people and goods from all through the Murray, Darling and and Murrumbidgee River systems, to Echuca – the closest point to Melbourne on the Murray.

Echuca flourished. Pubs, breweries and brothels boomed as the township revelled in its success. Legend has it that it wasn’t uncommon for horse races to stir up the dust down High Street where boutiques boasted the finest in European fashion and finery, bare knuckle fights lasted hours down on the river banks and you could catch cod fish as big as a man. The centre piece was the huge Red gum wharf, where in just one year (1872), more than 240 boats were cleared. Once Australia’s largest inland Port at 1.2km long, it is now home to the world’s largest collection of paddle steamers. Both PS Pevensey and PS Alexander Arbuthnot were restored in Echuca by shipwrights at Port of Echuca.

Day 9: Beechworth

Accommodation: Armour Motor Inn or similar

On our way east to Beechworth we visit the historic All Saints Winery at Wahgunyah for lunch and a wine tour. Then, after passing through picturesque Rutherglen, we visit the little township of Chiltern.

All Saints Estate is a family owned winery established in 1864 and located on the banks of the Murray River. Original owners George Sutherland Smith, and John Banks, arrived from Caithness, Scotland in 1852. They were just 23 and 20 years of age. Choosing to settle in the Wahgunyah area, they used their training as engineers from the Edinburgh Railway Institute to build a bridge over the Edwards River at Deniliquin.

Smith and Banks began growing vines at ‘Sunday Creek’ closer to Wahgunyah than the present All Saints Estate winery, before relocating to build the ‘All Saints castle’ just three miles north of Wahgunyah, in 1864. The partners took up 100 acres and proceeded with planting vines in earnest whilst also constructing pise cellars made from the estate soil.

The All Saints Estate castle was based on the design of ‘The Castle of Mey’, including turrets and a tower. The castle was constructed mainly of handmade bricks that were fired in the All Saints Estate Brick Kiln (classified on the Victorian Heritage Register) on the property. However, only the battement parapets of the lower wall and a turret were copied, not the main castle style. The Castle of Mey owned, until her death, by the late Queen Mother, was where George Sutherland-Smiths’ father was a carpenter and joiner.

The All Saints Estate castle is classified by the Victorian Heritage Register and National Trust, including two other buildings on the Estate: the (former) bottling hall and cellar which now houses the Indigo Food Co. (est. December 2005) and the Chinese Dormitory.

The main wine storage area, The Great Hall, is lined with huge 100-year-old oak casks, filled with rare Tokays and Muscats. When originally built, this hall was considered to be the largest wine storage facility in the Southern Hemisphere. All Saints Estate won the first gold medal for Australian wine in 1873 at the London International Exhibition. George Sutherland Smith was the first Australian winemaker to win an award at an overseas wine show.

The All Saints Winery boasts an excellent restaurant and we will lunch at the winery before continuing our journey through Rutherglen, famous for its fortified wines. From there we continue to Chiltern, a once thriving gold rush town. It was home (for one year) to Australian author Henry Handel Richardson, but is now a quiet back water.

We stop for the night in Beechworth, an historic gold mining town which became wealthy in the 1850s. This wealth is reflected in the town’s Victorian architecture, with over 30 National Trust listed buildings.

Day 10: Canberra

Accommodation: Novotel Canberra or similar

This morning we spend some time exploring Beechworth’s historic precinct before continuing to Canberra.

In Beechworth’s historic centre we visit the courthouse where forty trials for various members of the infamous Kelly family were held. The courthouse, built in 1858, was in continuous service for 131 years and was the site of many trials other than those of the Kelly family. Famously it was the scene for the trial of the first woman to be hanged in Victoria.

The Burke Museum is also well worth a visit. The Robert O’Hara Burke Memorial Museum is one of the oldest in Australia and proudly known as “the museum of museums”. It boasts a collection of over 30,000 items, many dating back over 150 years. The building itself was originally built as the Beechworth Athenaeum in 1857, but after the death of Beechworth’s former Superintendent of Police, Robert O’Hara Burke at Coopers Creek in 1861, the Athenaeum was renamed in his honour. Now more commonly known as the Burke Museum, it combines traditional didactic exhibition settings, combined with modern technology and interpretative techniques to bring the visitor a unique perspective on Beechworth’s place in Australian History.

After the morning in Beechworth we drive north through Albury and then along the Hume Highway towards Canberra. We’ll stop in Holbrook, once called Germanton but undergoing a name change during WWI, to view the unexpected submarine sitting in the local park hundreds of kilometres from the sea.

As with many Australian towns which smacked of some connection with Germany, its name was changed in 1915 to Holbrook after Submarine Commander Norman Douglas Holbrook.
At the corner of Albury Street and Wallace Street this town that loves submarines has an 8.5 m replica scale model of the 43 m British B11 submarine that Lieutenant Holbrook piloted through the minefields off the Dardanelles to torpedo a Turkish battleship in December, 1914. The craft, operated by a battery-driven electric motor, was limited to six knots for two hours and it was extremely difficult to handle.

After Holbrook sunk the battleship the B11 came under fire, the compass was shattered and it took nine hours to escape the attack. Remarkably none of the crew were injured. As a result of the success Holbrook became the first member of the British Navy (and the first submariner) to receive the Victoria Cross. (Possibly he is also the only member of the British Navy to have a country town in Australia named in his honour.)

(B)

Day 11: Canberra

Accommodation: Novotel Canberra or similar

Canberra is a 20th century planned city with a much longer history. For thousands of years, the indigenous Ngunnawal people lived in the Canberra region and the name ‘Canberra’ is believed to be derived from an indigenous word meaning ‘meeting place’. The first European explorers arrived in the Canberra area in 1820 and the first settlers came in 1824. During the 19th century, the European settlement slowly grew, but the indigenous people were devastated by European diseases.

The Anglican Church of St John the Baptist is the oldest building in Canberra. It was built in 1845 of sandstone and bluestone. It had an adjoining schoolhouse, which is now a museum.

After the Australian states federated in 1901 there was much argument about where the new capital should be sited. The two most populous states, NSW and Victoria, both advocating their major city as the most suitable. Finally a spot near neither Sydney nor Melbourne was selected. In October 1908 the House of Representatives voted for Yass-Canberra, followed by a Senate vote in November confirming the choice of Canberra by a whisker. With the decision made, attention turned to the design of the future capital. An international design competition was launched, which attracted 137 entries from all over the world. Walter Burley Griffin and his wife Marion Mahony Griffin were the winners, although the judging process was as fraught as the selection of the site.

Today we spend exploring the nation’s capital. There is plenty to see in Canberra. We tour the city by coach before visiting the new Parliament House, the National Museum and the National Art Gallery.

Day 12: Sydney

Accommodation: Ibis World Square or similar

We return to Sydney via Bowral where we stop to visit Retford Park. Retford Park is a place of great heritage significance. Its European history extends back to grants of land promised to Edward Riley senior by Governor Macquarie in 1821.

The house was built in 1887 by Samuel Hordern (1849-1909) merchant and stockbreeder, and his wife Jane nee Booth. The house at Retford Park (designed by Albert Bond) is set on a low rise, a grand rendered brick Italianate style residence. It was in 1964 that James Fairfax bought the property and started to turn it from an agricultural property to a gentleman’s residence. Mr Fairfax gifted Retford Park to the National Trust in 2016.

Having been in the caring hands of Mr Fairfax for over 50 years, the garden is a delight to wonder through. As you venture up the driveway the grand Victorian Italianate homestead appears from a towering arboretum of a magnificent collection of evergreen and deciduous trees, some very rare and unique.

Surrounding the eastern side of the homestead is a patchwork of hedged gardens showcasing everything from a detailed knot garden, exquisite swimming pool and pavilion, sculptures demanding centre stage and even a friendly family of five emus.

From Bowral we continue to Sydney.

Tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner in a local restaurant.

Day 13: Sydney

Tour concludes after breakfast this morning.

Includes / Excludes

What’s included in our Tour

  • 12 nights accommodation.
  • 12 breakfasts, 2 picnic lunches, 6 dinners.
  • Transport by modern and comfortable 4wd or other vehicle suitable for the highway conditions.
  • Entrances and sightseeing as specified.
  • Services of Tour Leader for the duration of tour.
  • Detailed Preparatory Information

What’s not included in our Tour

  • Return airfares to Sydney.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance.
  • Items of a personal nature, such as telephone calls and laundry
Level 2 - Moderate

Participants must be able to carry their own luggage, climb and descend stairs, be in good health, mobile and able to participate in 3-5 hours of physical activity per day, the equivalent of walking / hiking up to 8 kilometers per day on uneven ground.

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Departure

07 March 2022

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Ends 19 March 2022 • 13 days

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$11,331
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$9,620 pp

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You can reserve your spot by paying a $500 deposit, pay the rest 90 days before departure (excludes AU/NZ tours).

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Prices are per person and valid until 30th December 2022.

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If less than 30 days before your tour starts you are unable to travel as a result of Government travel restrictions, Odyssey Traveller will assist you with a date change, provide you with a credit or process a refund for your booking less any non-recoverable costs.

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Peace of Mind Travel

The safety of our travellers, tour leader, local guide and support staff has always been our top priority and with the new guidelines for public health and safety for keeping safe for destinations around the world, we’ve developed our plan to give you peace of mind when travelling with us.

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Reading List Download PDF

Cry Me A River: The Tragedy of the Murray-Darling Basin

The Murray-Darling Basin is the food bowl of Australia, and it's in trouble. What does this mean for the future - for water and crops, and for the people and towns that depend on it?

In Cry Me a River, acclaimed journalist Margaret Simons takes a trip through the Basin, all the way from Queensland to South Australia. She shows that its plight is environmental but also economic, and enmeshed in ideology and identity.

Her essay is both a portrait of the Murray-Darling Basin and an explanation of its woes. It looks at rural Australia and the failure of politics over decades to meet the needs of communities forced to bear the heaviest burden of change. Whether it is fish kills or state rivalries, drought or climate change, in the Basin our ability to plan for the future is being put to the test.

"The story of the Murray-Darling Basin ... is a story of our nation, the things that join and divide us. It asks whether our current systems - our society and its communities - can possibly meet the needs of the nation and the certainty of change. Is the Plan an honest compact, and is it fair? Can it work? Are our politics up to the task?"

By Margaret Simons

Amazon

Burke and Wills: The triumph and tragedy of Australia's most famous explorers

The iconic Australian exploration story - brought to life by Peter FitzSimons, Australia's storyteller.

'They have left here today!' he calls to the others. When King puts his hand down above the ashes of the fire, it is to find it still hot. There is even a tiny flame flickering from the end of one log. They must have left just hours ago.

MELBOURNE, 20 AUGUST 1860. In an ambitious quest to be the first Europeans to cross the harsh Australian continent, the Victorian Exploring Expedition sets off, farewelled by 15,000 cheering well-wishers. Led by Robert O'Hara Burke, a brave man totally lacking in the bush skills necessary for his task; surveyor and meteorologist William Wills; and 17 others, the expedition took 20 tons of equipment carried on six wagons, 23 horses and 26 camels.

Almost immediately plagued by disputes and sackings, the expeditioners battled the extremes of the Australian landscape and weather: its deserts, the boggy mangrove swamps of the Gulf, the searing heat and flooding rains. Food ran short and, unable to live off the land, the men nevertheless mostly spurned the offers of help from the local Indigenous people.

In desperation, leaving the rest of the party at the expedition's depot on Coopers Creek, Burke, Wills, Charley Gray and John King made a dash for the Gulf in December 1860. Bad luck and bad management would see them miss by just hours a rendezvous back at Coopers Creek, leaving them stranded in the wilderness with practically no supplies. Only King survived to tell the tale.

Yet, despite their tragic fates, the names of Burke and Wills have become synonymous with perseverance and bravery in the face of overwhelming odds. They live on in our nation's history - and their story remains immediate and compelling.

By Peter FitzSimons

Amazon

World Heritage Sites of Australia

Peter Valentine presents Australia’s 19 World Heritage sites in a magnificent tribute to natural and cultural history. The outstanding qualities of each site are described and illustrated in exquisite detail, along with an account of how the site came to be on the World Heritage List. In many cases, the path towards listing was not straightforward, with the Australian Government having to exercise its constitutional powers against other parties with vested interests in using sites for other purposes, including forestry and mining.

Rainforests that show the connections of the ancient super continent Gondwana. Rock art that points to a history of human settlement reaching over 60,000 years into the past.Sandstone remnants of eighty years of convict labour and imprisonment. A marvel of twentieth-century architecture. This is Australia’s world heritage.

In a thoughtful foreword, former minister for the environment, heritage and the arts and Midnight Oil lead singer Peter Garrett describes his own experience of these wonders and concern for their continued existence.

By Peter Valentine

Articles

Broken Hill Town Hall.

Broken Hill, New South Wales

Broken Hill, is the start and finish of a 4k km exploration of the Deserts of the outback, the history, the aboriginal communities who manage them today. Broken hill small group tour for seniors is an iconic place to commence for active couples or solo travellers seeking to learn and explore.

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Pro Hart and the 'Brushmen of the Bush'

Pro Hart and the 'Brushmen of the Bush'

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The Burke and Wills Expedition, 1860-61

The Burke and Wills Expedition, 1860-61

Learn on a small group tour of central Australia for active mature or senior travellers from Broken hill about Burke and Wills ambitious expedition. Suitable for mature aged couples or solo travellers.

15 May 20 · 7 mins read
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Dubbo regional landscape

Dubbo, Australia

Dubbo is explored on a small group tour to Outback Queensland. located in the heart of the beautiful Macquarie Valley by the majestic Macquarie River at the intersection of the Newell, Mitchell, and Golden highways.

27 Apr 20 · 4 mins read
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camels in the Australian Outback

Camels of the Australian Outback

Camels of the Australian Outback Here’s a trivia question : where are the world’s only wild single-hump (dromedary camel) camels found? If you guessed Arabia or the Sahara, you’d be wrong. In fact, the answer…

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Lake Surprise in Budj Bim National Park.

Understanding Aboriginal aquaculture

Aboriginal communities had the ability to harvest fish some 20,000+ years ago. Creating major centres of trade and cultural exchange, and supported permanent communities. Discover and learn more on a escorted small group package tour to Victoria, South Australia & Queensland for mature and senior travellers, couples and solo travellers interested in learning.

10 Jun 20 · 11 mins read
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Aboriginal Art

Aboriginal Art

Senior and mature couples and solo travellers remain curious but often informed about the role Aboriginal art plays in the indigenous community and the various styles. This article seeks to provide a platform for this collection of small group tours of upto 15 people into the Australian outback where often Aboriginal art styles are encountered.

6 Nov 20 · 15 mins read
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Aboriginal Fire Management

Aboriginal Fire Management

Small group tours for mature and senior travellers in the Australian outback to learn and appreciate land management techniques for couples and solo travellers reflecting Aboriginal culture in Kakadu, Tasmania, Arnhem land and the Kimberley.

27 Dec 21 · 6 mins read
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Ochre Cliffs near Lyndhurst Outback South Australia

Ancient Aboriginal trade routes of Australia

Ancient Aboriginal trade routes of Australia Trade was a central part of life for Aboriginal people prior to the British settlement of Australia. Trading routes criss-crossed the nation, dispersing goods, information, technologies and culture thousands…

14 Feb 21 · 16 mins read
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Appreciating Australian River Systems

Appreciating Australian River Systems

Appreciating the linking of the river network into the Australian, history, culture and landscape on a small group tour for mature and senior travellers of couples or solo travellers is an integral part of understanding the continent of Australia and Aboriginal settlement.

18 Nov 20 · 9 mins read
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Australian Outback Cattle King

Australian Outback Cattle King

These mature and senior programs for couples and senior travellers explore the outback Sidney Kidman sought to tame in the Channel country to the Birdsville track, Marree and Farina. Our escorted small group tours of the Australian interior explore history, cultures and landscapes that we experience as we travel from the previous time to the contemporary.

11 Dec 20 · 8 mins read
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Bourke, New South Wales

Bourke, New South Wales

Bourke, a historic settlement on the upper reaches of the Darling river. For escorted small group tours of upto 15 people for mature and senior travellers exploring Bourke is an important part of the Aboriginal, cultural and pastoral history of outback NSW.

6 Nov 20 · 5 mins read
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Pilbara wildflowers WA

The Australian Outback: A Definitive Guide

Explore learn and consider what is the outback in this article. For mature and senior travelers considering joining a small group package tours into the outback to see, learn and explore about this unique place, not only the landscape but the Aboriginal approach to living. On each of the tours for couples and the single traveler you learn something different but fascinating, from Outback Queensland, the Flinders, Broken Hill and the Kimberley and the wildflowers all contribute to this question, what is the outback?

18 Jun 20 · 15 mins read
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White Cliffs, New South Wales

White Cliffs, New South Wales

White Cliffs, an anomaly? Explore and learn about one of the 3 opal sites in the outback of Australia. Several of Odyssey Travellers small group tours take the mature and senior and traveller either as a couple or solo travellers to White cliffs.

10 Nov 20 · 5 mins read
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FAQs

Why is it called the Outback?

The term ‘Outback’ comes from the idea of ‘Back country’, which was used in the early colonies (with recorded uses as early as 1800) to refer to land beyond the settled regions. With the spread of settlement, ‘Outback’ came into use to describe the inland, arid and semi-arid centres of Australia. ‘Outback’ was first used in print in 1869, when the writer clearly meant west of Wagga Wagga, NSW.

‘Outback’ has a number of variants, including ‘Back o’ Bourke‘, ‘Back of Beyond’, ‘Back Country’, and ‘Beyond the Black Stump’ (the precise location of which varies according to local folklore!).

How hot is the Outback in Australia?

The Queensland Outback can get pretty hot! Summer temperatures average between 35-40 degrees, though some towns can get a lot hotter than this. Temperatures cool down between March and October, with the coolest month (July) averaging in the mid-late 20s in most towns.

Reflecting this, Odyssey Traveller has scheduled our Outback Queensland tours to leave from July – October and Feb – March 2020 and 2021.

Other Outback Australia tours

Odyssey offers a collection of small group outback tours for seniors across the States. These Australian tours are typically tour packages for 12 to 16 days in duration. Australian Tour packages include tours of western Australia for wildflowers or a Kimberley tour from Broome with the Bungle bungle range. In SA, Flinders range and Wilpena pound, Eyre peninsula, also North Queensland and the native wildlife, or Cameron Corner including Birdsville.

Odyssey, seeks on any Australia trip to go off the beaten track, the Australia vacation with a difference. We do not offer Outback tours for seniors that could be considered an iconic Australia trip that might include Ayers Rock (Uluru), Blue Mountains, the east coast to the gold coast and Brisbane or Cairns and the Great barrier reef for example.

FAQs

Broken Hill

What is Broken Hill known for?

“The Capital of the Outback” – Broken Hill, was listed on the National Heritage List in 2015 and remains Australia’s longest-running mining town after the orebody of silver and lead was discovered in 1883 (the same year Broken Hill was founded). The orebody proved to be the largest and richest of its kind in the world and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company (BHP) was formed. 30 years later, they realized the ore reserves were limited and began to diversify into steel production. Mining is still prominent today and The Broken Hill Solar Plant, which was completed in 2015, is one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

What does Broken Hill look like?

Broken Hill offers a breathtaking diversity of landscapes to discover and explore, from wetlands and lakes to flat-topped mountains and desert plains. The vibrant colors and perfect light are popular for film sets and artists, to capture its special beauty.

What is open in Broken Hill?

Most restaurants are open from Tuesday to Saturday. Pubs are typically open every day.

What is the population of Broken Hill?

Broken Hill has an estimated population of over 17,000 people.

Why is Broken Hill population declining?

Broken Hill, among a variety of rural areas in Australia is experiencing population decline. Out-migration from many rural areas has occurred due to changing agricultural practices and subsequent employment loss.

Is Broken Hill on a river?

Broken Hill is not located on the Darling River, but it is less than an hour from Menindee, which lies on the Darling River Bank.

Can you visit a mine in Broken Hill?

Yes, you can visit the Day Dream Mine. When you head underground, you’ll go through 3 levels, viewing tiny drives (tunnels) the miner dug & seeing the rocks the picky boys sorted & returned as backfill.

How cold does it get in Broken Hill?

Average temperatures in Broken Hill vary greatly. The coldest month is July, which on average, has a maximum of 16° degrees and a minimum of 7° degrees.

Is Broken Hill worth a visit?

The legendary outback city of Broken Hill is rich with history, a vibrant artistic community and cast of colorful characters. Discover amazing galleries, famous sculptures, cool cafes, palatial federation heritage and towering mining landmarks in Australia’s first heritage-listed city.

Odyssey offers a range of tours to Broken Hill, including our “Broken Hill and Back” and “World Heritage Sites in the Southern States”.

Is Broken Hill running out of water?

Very soon Broken Hill will run out of fresh water from the nearby lakes for the first time in anyone’s memory. With rain unlikely, in late January the last water that can be treated conventionally will run out. To buy another year, the town will switch to reverse osmosis to treat the remaining and increasingly salty and dirty lake water. After that, the town will need to switch to bore water.

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