Pubs in the scrub – must see NSW outback pubs

By Paul Todd 7 Min Read

You’ve been on the road for hours, the sands in the hourglass are ticking towards happy hour and you’re hankering for a drink. There are pubs, and then there are pubs. We’ve tried them all to, er, save you having to? So in no particular order, these are the five best places to enjoy a frosty refreshment in the NSW outback.

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You could definitely work these into a road trip. If you do, make sure you spend a couple of days in each spot.

What: Club in the Scrub

Where: Grawin Opal Fields, near Lightning Ridge

Why: Located in one of the most eccentric and interesting towns in the country, the Club in the Scrub is an absolute must-see. When you roll into Grawin and cruise around the mines, you’ll immediately notice that this is a place where you do what you can to get by. You’ll be very surprised when you walk into the Club in the Crub to find it’s an actual RSL club, and you’ve got to sign in.

Once you’re in, grab a beer and wander around to check out all the cool local paraphernalia. This really is one of the most interesting places in the country. Think Coober Pedy, but without the tourism polish. The best part is there’s a free campground out the back. 

Travel tip: While you’re in town, don’t miss the Glengarry Hilton and The Sheepyard Inn.

What: Tilpa Hotel

Where: On the Darling River, Tilpa

Why: Tilpa Pub is a classic. Established in 1894 to service the booming trade born out of the once bustling Darling River, Tilpa Pub is all character. The walls are plastered with stories and signatures from travellers past, and you can add your own for a small donation to the Royal Flying Doctor. Many outback pubs don’t run kegs, but Tilpa stock a good range of tap beer.

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There’s a good bistro, and camping across the road with toilets and hot showers. If you’re a keen fisho, you’re always a good chance at pulling an elusive Murray Cod out of the river. Tilpa is not only a great stopover for any road trip, but a worthy destination in itself.

Travel tip: This area can flood, and fast. If Tilpa is off limits, head to Shindy’s Inn at Louth instead, another one of our favourite outback pubs.

What: Silverton Hotel

Where: Silverton

Why: As iconic as they come, Silverton Hotel is incredible. Tap beer, sensational food, and the kind of absolute remote location we crave. If you’re not aware of Silverton’s history in Aussie cinema, you’ll immediately have a feeling of déjà vu when you enter. The pub has featured in countless films and ads over the years, and the town is home to the famed Mad Max 2 Museum.

Don’t miss the local attractions. The Daydream Mine, Mad Max 2 Museum, the bakery, and on your way out of town, Mundi Mundi Lookout are all worth a visit.

Travel Tip: Wrap your lips around a hot dog at the pub. They’re famous for a reason. 

What: Packsaddle Roadhouse

Where: Packsaddle, the middle of nowhere

Why: A one-stop shop for fuel, food, accommodation and of course, booze. Packsaddle is a vital stopover on your way north from Broken Hill, and one worthy of more than a fleeting visit. One of the classic outback pubs, the building itself is quirky and modest. Head inside, grab yourself a schooner, and head down into the bistro seating to catch up on a bit of TV in front of the impressive fireplace. The hanging hats are worthy of a closer inspection.

If you time your visit well, you might catch the annual Packsaddle Gymkhana. There’s camping and cabins, and surprisingly reasonable pricing. The Roadhouse is only 175km north of Broken Hill on the Silver City Highway, but you truly feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere.

Travel Tip: Stay the night and try the big breakfast.

What: Family Hotel

Where: Tibooburra

Why: If you’ve managed to get all the way out to Packsaddle, you may as well keep heading north. Tibooburra is miles from anywhere, but it has everything you need. The Family Hotel is a great stop for a weary traveller. Built in 1882, the impressive stone building houses a surprisingly modern pub. Inside there are a series of fantastic murals painted in the 1960s.

The Family Hotel once formed a base for the Cobb & Co network, with the original horse stables still standing to this day. There are rooms available at the pub, a motel across the road, caravan park to the south, and campground north.

Travel tip: Tibooburra makes a great base from which to explore the Sturt National Park and head out to Cameron Corner.

Have we missed any of your favourite outback pubs? Tell us about it and we’ll hit the road and do the research. It’s a tough gig, but it has to be done.


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