QantasLink, Dash 8-300, Sydney to Broken Hill, NSW

THE ROUTE

Flight QF2017, Sydney to Broken Hill, NSW

THE AIRCRAFT

A twin-turboprop Dash 8-300, a 50-seat, all-economy aircraft (a single toilet is up front).

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Earn Qantas frequent flyer points with this QantasLink flight.

CLASS

Window seat 12A in the back row.

DURATION

Qantas launched its 2.5-hour direct Sydney-Broken Hill flights in April. It’s the first time the national carrier has offered a regular passenger service to the Silver City. It’s an alternative to Rex Airlines, which flies the route throughout the week in a smaller aircraft with a combination of direct and non-direct flights (those ones bunny-hop via Dubbo and take 3 hours, 15 minutes). We’re half an hour late taking off from Sydney and touch down to a welcoming committee that includes a bagpiper and local drag queens Amanda Screetly and Christina Kneesup wiggling away at the end of a red carpet with Mayor Tom Kennedy, resplendent in mayoral chains. The pink Bells Milk Bar van dispensed milkshakes in three flavours (many more are available at the South Broken Hill retro landmark) and the airport cafe, 28Eighty, serves kangaroo kofta, lamb spring rolls, yabby-topped pikelets and other delicacies.

CARBON EMISSIONS

Under Qantas’s Fly Carbon Neutral program, it would cost $1.33 (an amount matched by Qantas) to offset your carbon footprint from this flight.

FREQUENCY

Qantas initially offered this route on Fridays and Mondays but, from June 21, it will also operate on Tuesdays. From November 1, it will ramp up to five days a week. The timings should help inspire thoughts of a long weekend away either in the Silver City or, for those living in Far West NSW, the Emerald City. Those who visit Broken Hill for longer will find plenty to do, including exploring the photogenic almost-ghost town of Silverton north-west of Broken Hill, Mutawintji National Park to the north-east and Menindee to the south-east. Just remember: Broken Hill operates on the same time zone as South Australia, which is just 50 kilometres away.

HEALTH

CHECKING IN

I arrive at Qantas’ Sydney domestic terminal 90 minutes before the flight to be greeted with those infamous queues of 2022. I’m travelling with only carry-on so, after squeaking through security, I whizz to the business lounge for a quick toastie and barista-brewed coffee. From the gate, passengers are bussed out to the plane waiting on the tarmac.

THE SEAT

The aircraft’s black vinyl seats are arranged in a 2-2 configuration and have 79cm of legroom. Aim for a window seat on the left if you want to admire the spectacular Menindee Lakes system as you near Broken Hill.

BAGGAGE

Passengers can check a bag weighing up to 23kg for free. Large hand luggage may have to be checked at the foot of the plane’s stairs as the overhead bins are small.

ENTERTAINMENT

I flick through the Qantas inflight magazine in the seat-back pocket but the best entertainment comes courtesy of one of our two flight attendants. “Will we see any cowboys in Broken Hill?” she asks. When told it’s unlikely, she says she’s watched too many episodes of Yellowstone.

SERVICE

It’s warm and friendly, with an added dash of excitement about the airline’s new route.

FOOD

Coffee, tea, soft drinks and a snack (choc-chip lamington-flavoured biscuits) are served during the flight (the return flight’s snack is a chocolate brownie).

ONE MORE THING

Here’s a little fact for aviation history lovers. Qantas touched down in Broken Hill during the 1954 Royal Tour, carrying Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh aboard a Qantas Lockheed Constellation aircraft named Horace Brinsmead.

THE VERDICT

Those who live in and around Broken Hill hope the Roo vs Rex competition on this route will make fares more attractive. City-slickers who have been thinking about visiting this quirky Far West NSW destination now have less of an excuse not to go.

OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE

★★★★★

The writer flew courtesy of Destination NSW and Qantas (qantas.com)

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