If you’ve always wondered what it would be like to deliver mail in the Outback, you can tag along with a rural postman for a day in New South Wales and experience it yourself. That’s what Australian travel journalist David Whitley did, and he wrote about his adventure for Australian Traveller magazine. I found the story on his blog, Grumpy Traveller, and he graciously gave us permission to excerpt a bit from it:
Steve Green knows these treacherous stretches of red earth better than any man alive. He is the Australia Post contractor responsible for servicing some of NSW’s most remote properties twice a week.
Every Wednesday and Saturday, he embarks upon his epic 550km-plus mail run across two time zones. In a day’s work, he’ll drop off letters, parcels, vital medicines and spare machinery parts to just twenty outback stations. It works out at slightly over two mailboxes an hour – and many of them are designed with the sort of eccentricity that comes from being isolated in total whoop-whoop for a very long time. He delivers to rusting oil drums, converted fridges and – in one instance – a model of Ned Kelly that has its guns pointing out at the Silver City Highway.
For today only, I am Steve’s gate man. In practice, this means that I have to get out far more often than he does, opening and closing the gates designed to keep the sheep in. They may seem a little pointless in areas so big, but it’s easier to search one giant paddock than to go over the entire property, inch-by-inch, in order to find a stray.
The average property size in these parts, sandwiched between the South Australian border and the Darling River to the south of Broken Hill, is around 80,000 acres. Sounds enormous, but the land is so stark, dry and barren that it’s hard to make a living off it. No crops are grown, and in some areas there’s only one sheep for every 50 acres.
To drive through it is awe-inspiring. It’s the true sunburnt country; scorched earth, slithering box trees on the horizon and proper Big Sky. It’s easy to see why artists come to live in Broken Hill – the stark landscapes surrounding it could act as inspiration to a complete klutz that struggles with painting between the lines. To anyone with a talent or an artistic bent, it’s dreamland…
To do the trip yourself: The Bush Mail Run departs from Broken Hill, NSW every Wednesday and Saturday morning at around 7am. Bookings must be made in advance – call 08 8087 2164 or visit www.visitbrokenhill.com.au. The run can accommodate a maximum of four passengers, and the experience costs $120 Australian ($106 USD) per person.
Photo from Film Broken Hill, a location scouting agency in the Outback.
- Nat Geo Expeditions