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The Priscilla Queen of the Desert Road Trip

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Sydney Harbour Bridge (photo: falco)

Critically acclaimed, culturally significant and an Academy Award winner – The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert remains a true icon of Australian cinema.

In fact, Screen Australia once said that the enduring impact of this comedy-drama “speaks on one level to the idiosyncrasies of Australian culture while on the other telling a universal story of acceptance that resonates with audiences across the world.”

For its legion of fans, ‘Priscilla’ is still enjoyed on regular repeat at home, during raucous singalong nights, and as an award-winning stage show. But what if you want to embark on your own Queen of the Desert road trip and embrace your inner Mitzi, Felicia or Bernadette?

At 2,600km long, the following journey certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted. But with the right car hire and a soundtrack from the film for company, you’ll be set for your own once-in-a-lifetime adventure. 

Sydney

With the film starting in Sydney, take this opportunity to experience one of the city’s famous drag shows.

In a thriving scene that’s becoming more diverse by the minute, you’ll be spoilt for choice between lip sync battles and avant-garde performances.

Once you’ve recovered from the night before, it will be time to depart the bright lights of the city for the never-ending skies of the outback.

If possible, follow in the footsteps of Priscilla by driving over the Sydney Harbour Bridge as you leave. 

Broken Hill

Your first major port of call on this epic road trip will be Broken Hill, an outback mining town around 1,200 kilometers west of Sydney.

This is where the girls raise local eyebrows when they go shopping along Argent Street – the town’s main ‘drag’.

That night, they check-in to Mario’s Palace (now the Palace Hotel), where Bernadette encounters the butch and bigoted local called Shirley.

Die-hard fans will definitely want to stay the night here, as the ‘Priscilla Suite’ is the exact same room as featured in the film. 

The Breakaways (photo: pen_ash, Pixabay)
The Breakaways (photo: pen_ash)

Coober Pedy

There are few places in Australia as harsh as Coober Pedy – another mining town that means “white man’s burrow” in the local Aboriginal dialect because most dwellings are built underground.

In summer, the temperature frequently soars to over 50C, while annual rainfall is less than five inches. 

In the film, Priscilla breaks down in an area known as “The Breakaways,” which is around 30km north of Coober Pedy.

This striking rocky landscape of flat-topped mesas is best appreciated at sunset. 

King's Canyon (photo: Jacqueline Wales, Pixabay)
King’s Canyon (photo: Jacqueline Wales)

Alice Springs

The last leg of this trip means heading north several hundred kilometers into the Northern Territory, where the only company you’ll have is the hypnotic scrub and brick-red earth.

You’ll then wind up at Alice Springs, the gateway for exploring Australia’s Red Centre. 

Along with Lasseters Hotel Casino – the girls’ final destination managed by Tick’s estranged wife Marion – Alice Springs is also home to King’s Canyon, where Felicia made her triumphant climb in sequined gowns and peacock-feathers.

Initially, the film’s producers wanted to film this scene on Uluru, but it would have been in violation of Indigenous Australian religious beliefs.

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