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Take on the Darling River Run

Murray Darling Junction, WentworthCREDIT: Destination NSW

The Murray Darling Junction, Wentworth: the last stop on the Darling River Run.

#newsouthwales #lovensw

Take on the
Darling River Run

Murray Darling Junction, Wentworth CREDIT: Destination NSW

The Murray Darling Junction, Wentworth: the last stop on the Darling River Run.

#newsouthwales #lovensw

Hashtags #newsouthwales #lovensw

Experience outback New South Wales on the Darling River Run, an epic 930km road trip that meanders alongside mighty rivers from Walgett in the state’s northwest through to Wentworth in the southwest. You could easily spend a week or two on the road, savouring the many sights along the way, but if you only have five days up your sleeve, here’s how to make the most of your journey.  

Highlights: 

  • Soak in a therapeutic artesian bore 
  • Spend the night at an authentic outback sheep station 
  • See striking ancient landscapes at Mungo National Park 

Day 1: Walgett–Brewarrina–Bourke 

Your road trip begins in Walgett, a historic port on the junction of the Namoi and Barwon rivers in the NSW outback. Enjoy the tranquillity on the Tracker Walford Walkway, a 1.5km interpretive river trail that tells the story of Aboriginal families who lived in the area and was named for Aboriginal tracker Norman Walford. Exercise done, relax in the Walgett Bore Baths, an artesian pool heated naturally to 41.5°C by the ancient waters of the Great Artesian Basin. For good coffee, take a break at Stone’s Throw.  

Ninety minutes further on is Brewarrina, on the Barwon River. Here you’ll find an unsung treasure, the heritage-listed Brewarrina Fish Traps. Dating back an estimated 40,000 years, this complex series of holding ponds represents ancient technology at its most ingenious. Learn about this important Aboriginal site at the Brewarrina Aboriginal Cultural Museum, where you can book in a tour. For a caffeine hit with a dose of local art, stop by the quirky Muddy Waters Café & Gallery, with its distinctive fence mural. 

An hour on is Bourke. The phrase ‘Back of Bourke’ may represent the outback at its most remote, but this former river port is brimming with history and Aboriginal significance. Stories of bushrangers, poets and early exploration are brought to life at the Back O’Bourke Information and Exhibition Centre; buy a two-day pass and factor in a relaxing cruise on the Jandra paddle vessel, departing twice daily from Kidman’s Camp, 8km north of the township on the banks of the Darling River. Kidman’s Camp offers a range of accommodation options, from camping to luxury chalets, with the bonus of two swimming pools. It’s worth staying for an unforgettable night of bush poetry and a campfire dinner under the starry sky.  

Day 2: Bourke–Louth–Tilpa 

According to Australian poet Henry Lawson, Louth, 75 minutes southwest of Bourke, was a town that “loved a drink, a party and a punt”. While the unassuming river town is a little sleepier today, it still knows how to throw a party, particularly during the Louth Races festivities each August. For a taste of authentic outback life, visit the vast Trilby Station, a working sheep station with an open-air museum, walking trails and cottage accommodation. A classic outback-pub experience awaits you at Shindy’s Inn, on the banks of the Darling River. Accommodation is also available here in self-contained cabins. 

About an hour’s drive from Louth, Tilpa was once an important river port, its timber and corrugated iron hotel dating back to 1894 and symbolising more illustrious times. Today, the town’s main claims to fame are a Boer War memorial commemorating Harry ‘Breaker’ Morant, who worked in the area, and a cemetery which is yet to host a burial. 

There’s only one place to fuel up ― the Tilpa Hotel is the heart of the town and serves pub grub and cold beer. Pay to scrawl a message on the walls, with proceeds donated to the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Rest your head at Kallara Station, a certified-organic sheep station offering basic fisherman-hut accommodation as well as comfy lodge rooms. The station offers a range of activities, including fishing, yabbying or punting on the river.

Brewarrina Fish Traps, Brewarrina CREDIT: Destination NSW

The Barwon River, home to the traditional Aboriginal fish traps in Brewarrina (Ngemba Country), also known as Baiame's Ngunnhu.

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Brewarrina Fish Traps, Brewarrina CREDIT: Destination NSW

The Barwon River, home to the traditional Aboriginal fish traps in Brewarrina (Ngemba Country), also known as Baiame's Ngunnhu.

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Streetscapes, Walgett CREDIT: Destination NSW

6 metre tall lilac wheat farmer sculpture welcoming visitors to the Fairlands property.

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Streetscapes, Walgett CREDIT: Destination NSW

6 metre tall lilac wheat farmer sculpture welcoming visitors to the Fairlands property.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Day 3: Tilpa –Wilcannia–Menindee 

A two-hour drive from Tilpa will lead you to the once-thriving river port of Wilcannia, where the streets are lined with well-preserved sandstone buildings. A heritage trail with interpretive signs runs throughout the town, with notable sites including the lift bridge, the elegant Post and Telegraph Office and the Athenaeum Museum. The 140-year-old Queens Head Hotel has been repurposed into a gallery and cultural space and also offers three comfy guest rooms. 

Menindee, two hours south of Wilcannia, may have been the last stop on Burke and Wills’s ill-fated journey, but it could well be a highlight of your trip. The oldest European settlement in NSW, this charming town is surrounded by stunning natural attractions, including Kinchega National Park, famed for the diverse birdlife that flocks to the Menindee Lakes wetlands. You can stroll along the Kinchega Homestead billabong track past the ruins of the 1870s home and ancient Aboriginal sites. Don’t miss the well-preserved Kinchega Woolshed, which tells the story of outback Australia’s pastoral past.  

As well as popular lakeside and Darling River campsites in Kinchega National Park, you can stay in basic heritage rooms at the Kinchega Shearers’ Quarters. Camping and a self-contained cottage sleeping 12 are also available at Nelia Gaari Station, a 24,000-hectare working sheep and cattle station.  

Day 4: Menindee–Pooncarie–Mungo National Park 

It takes about 90 minutes to get from Menindee to Pooncarie, another historic river port, with the two-tier paddle-steamer wharf still standing as a reminder of the old wool-trading days.  

Next stop, just an hour to the east, is Mungo National Park. Home to the oldest human remains in Australia ― known as Mungo Man and Mungo Lady ― the park is part of the Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area, managed by Traditional Owners from three communities. Take an Aboriginal ranger-led walk to the famous Walls of China to learn about this spectacular moonscape’s significance to Aboriginal people. You can then continue your self-driving exploration along the 70km Mungo Loop Track. Stretch your legs on the Foreshore Walk, starting at the Visitor Centre near the Mungo Woolshed, built in 1869, and continuing past sculpted dunes and ancient lakebeds. 

Set close to park attractions, the refurbished Mungo Shearers’ Quarters is an atmospheric place to sleep and there’s a communal kitchen for preparing meals. Alternatively, the well-appointed Mungo Lodge, on the edge of the park, offers luxury self-contained cabin accommodation and a bar and bistro.  

Day 5: Mungo National Park–Wentworth 

You’ll need to double back to Pooncarie before the final one-hour leg of your journey to Wentworth, located at the junction of the Darling and Murray rivers in The Murray region. Get a bird’s-eye view of the river from the tower overlooking the junction, or walk to the place where the two rivers meet at Junction Island Nature Reserve. For a more immersive river experience, take a trip back in time on the PS Ruby paddle steamer (book through Wentworth Visitor Information Centre), or enjoy a guided kayak tour with Moontongue Eco-Adventures. And what better way to end your road trip than to hire a houseboat with Murray Darling Houseboats, allowing the tranquillity of the mighty rivers to soothe your soul?  

Streetscape, Wilcannia CREDIT: Destination NSW

The historic Wilcannia Post Office erected in 1880 and restored in 2010.

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Streetscape, Wilcannia CREDIT: Destination NSW

The historic Wilcannia Post Office erected in 1880 and restored in 2010.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Walls of China, Mungo National Park CREDIT: Destination NSW

Spectacular outback landscapes showcasing the Walls of China in the World Heritage Mungo National Park.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Walls of China, Mungo National Park CREDIT: Destination NSW

Spectacular outback landscapes showcasing the Walls of China in the World Heritage Mungo National Park.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

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