Liz Murray - The Story Behind Trilby Station
Trilby Station is an iconic property on the Darling River and hosts thousands of guests each season on the 320,000-hectare property. Plenty of travellers have been treated to the hospitality of Liz Murray, who along with her husband Gary, are owners of the property. Liz has travelled extensively herself and comes home with numerous stories to tell.
What brought the Murray family to the Darling River and what is now known as Trilby Station?
Andrew Murray arrived at this section of the Darling River in 1860, purchasing 60 acres for 60 pounds Stirling. He built a pub, The Shamrock Inn, and then a store, and received supplies from the passing paddle steamers. His customers were also the stagecoaches travelling up and down the river.
In 1870, at the age of 34, Andrew died from tuberculosis, so his brother Thomas and his wife took over. They decided prior to 1900 that they’d rather be landowners, so the Inn was closed, and they began the process of acquiring land. Our Grandson Hubert, 18 months old, is the 7th generation of the Murray’s living on the Darling River here. The family eventually accrued a million acres or thereabouts and owned Dunlop Station, of which Trilby station was a part.
Besides offering a range of camping and accommodation options, what else keeps the Trilby heart beating?
Gary and the kids say I run inside the levee bank (the Agri-tourism side of our enterprise) while they run the other 320,000 acres. We run around 20,000 merino sheep as well as a rangeland goat operation.
How many campsites do you offer, and which are your favourites?
We currently have 17 secluded campsites on the river and 9 on the billabong. Each spot has a firepit, wood to start you (then you can gather more from around camp as required), rubbish and recycle bins and a long drop loo nearby. It’s a short drive to the bathroom, laundry, and camp kitchen facilities.
The river spots look amazing now with the high river, but my favourites are around the Billabong, which filled in with the Jan-Feb flood and is approx. 7km in circumference and a big horseshoe shape. Set level with the water, sunset or sunrise (depending on which side you’re camping on) is amazing over the water. There’s a lot of birdlife on the billabong and our canoes/kayaks are located here as it’s a stable body of water with no current.
You’ve travelled extensively yourself, what is your favourite country and what is your most valuable experience?
I’d have to say Africa, but Oman, Ladakh and Nepal run a close second. I love mountains and deserts, developing nations, the more remote the better, and there always needs to be an element of hiking in the mix. This way you gain valuable insight into ways of life, religion and cultural practices among other things, and lots of nitty-gritty stuff you’d never read about in a Lonely Planet guide.
I've lived with a local African family, the Griots of the village and keepers of tradition and ceremonies through drum and dance in West Africa, swapped recipes in Arabic with a farmer’s wife over lunch in her humble home in Oman, never laughed so much as with a household of women (free of their burqa’s and constraints whilst inside), enjoying copious quantities of the sickly sweet tea, working out how many children each woman had via charades on the edge of the Sahara Desert in Morocco, slept peacefully high up on the edge of a cliff in the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia with gelada baboons all around and my guard complete with an AK47 just outside my tent, and dug my Aussie dirt and gum leaves into the surrounding soil of a mates uncle at Bomana war cemetery in Papua New Guinea after completing the most moving and difficult hike along the Kokoda Track.
What makes running a farm stay so enjoyable?
While I’m actually a bit of a hermit, which is why I do love solo travel. I do enjoy meeting our guests, hearing their travelling stories, and picking up new destinations and local guide info. Coach groups are usually seniors and they’re so interested in what we are doing here at the station. I really enjoy cooking for them and leading them on an easy walking tour, while telling stories about our lifestyle here at Trilby.
School holidays are packed with families travelling and camping in groups, the crowds that pass by on their way to or from the Mundi Mundi Bash and The Big Red Bash are real hoots, and the retired nomads are great to chat with as well. We see all sorts, and my main aim is that everyone leaves with a better understanding of our lifestyle, how we are protecting the environment while grazing sheep and goats, and of course, having a great stay.
What sort of experiences can visitors to Trilby take part in?
Our station stay guests need to be happy entertaining themselves pretty much, this is a laid-back experience. Activities include canoeing, bushwalking, birdwatching, taking yourself on our self-guided mud map drives with detailed trip notes, fishing, catching yabbies, visiting the historic Dunlop Station next door, relaxing by our pool, maybe enjoying a counter lunch and cold beer at either Tilpa or Louth. The station is so big that it’s not feasible for them to be able to see too much of the day-to-day work. Of course, if there’s something going on that’s easily accessible by our guests in their own vehicles then they can observe these seasonal station activities, such as shearing, lambing etc. This definitely isn’t a hobby farm. Running the station stay plus cleaning, cooking and maintenance of campsites etc is a full-time job for me!