Darling River Run
One of the longest river systems in Australia, the Darling River calls to adventurers with its winding course that links Outback towns through idyllic landscapes and easy 4WD tracks.
|Time||Seven days minimum|
|Distance||952km Walgett to Wentworth (longer using alternate routes)|
|238km, Menindee to Wentworth (longer via alternative route through Kinchega National Park)|
|Facilities||Walgett, Brewarrina, Bourke, Louth, Tilpa, Wilcannia, Menindee, Wentworth|
|Best time of year||March to October|
|Warnings||Road conditions change rapidly after rain; for the latest information check the Central Darling Shire Council's Road Report Ph (08) 8091 5155 or www.centraldarling.nsw.gov.au. Wandering stock are a hazard in unfenced pastoral areas. Open fires are not permitted in the park, and there's a total fire ban from October 1 to March 31.|
|Permits and fees||National park entry and camping fees apply for Kinchega National Park.|
Mitchell Caravan Park
NPWS Broken Hill Ph (08) 8088 3200
What to expect
The Darling River Run spans a length of 2740km through the Outback, all the way from Walgett in Outback New South Wales to Wentworth, the Victorian border and the river’s confluence with the Murray River. The journey takes travellers through some relatively isolated terrain, which means they need to be fully prepared for the trip.
The journey also delivers glimpses of each of the river ports which were established along the way: Bourke, Louth, Tilpa, Wilcannia and Wentworth. Those looking to traverse the Darling River Run can choose to do it in parts, or undertake the entire journey.
The relatively easy drive from Bourke, down the Darling to Wentworth, is a trip through Australian pastoral history. Side trips to White Cliffs, Kinchega and Mungo national parks make the trip even more rewarding, and a week is the minimum time for an appropriate Darling River experience.
The drive down the river used to be a difficult one but today the dirt and gravel surfaces are well maintained for the most part. The roads are closed quickly in wet weather and that prevents tyre rut damage to the track. In dry weather you can easily complete this run in a softroader, provided you keep your speed to less than 80km/h to minimise tyre stress. There’s a low-level river crossing at Louth – if you want to try driving on the western bank for a change, but the road passes closer to the river more often on the eastern side.
There’s a riverside pub, the Royal, at Tilpa, where there’s a weir and a high-level water crossing.
The Darling River road continues southwest to Menindee from a right turn south of Wilcannia. This section of the road is rougher than the northern sections. Pooncarie is the next stop, on the Menindee-Wentworth road, with a friendly pub, a general store and a beautiful riverside camping area. A detour to Mungo National Park is an alternative to staying on the Darling River road.
Mungo National Park
The Mungo National Park is a world heritage site that houses the Mungo Lady and Mungo Man. The Mungo Lady and Mungo Man are believed to be the oldest human cremations ever found and date back 42,000 years. The park also features other sites, including the Walls of China, which are essentially fossilised sand dunes frozen in time.
Visitors have the option of camping in the Mungo National Park and can choose from 33 campsites. Tents, trailers, caravans and beside vehicle camping are all available options. Travellers should keep in mind that fees apply. A range of facilities are available at these camping grounds, including hot showers, toilets and phones.
The Back O’ Bourke Exhibition Centre
The Back O’ Bourke Exhibition Centre has been designed to educate visitors on the cultural history of the outback through interactive installations. The interactive stories being told at the exhibition centre includes the tales of the CEW Bean, Inland Sea, Riverboats and the Wool Story, among a variety of others.
The Red Sandhills of Menindee
4WDers will likely find themselves drawn to the red sandhills of the Menindee area, which happen to be the first European settlement on the Darling River. Here, visitors can choose to spend time relaxing by the Menindee Lake, taking in some of the most alluring fauna in the area. Fishing is allowed, and visitors can spend the night at the Pamamaroo Creek’s Burke and Wills campgrounds.
Trilby Station is a must-see for anyone doing the Darling River Run. The Murray’s have lived at Trilby since 1981, and the sheep station spans 320,000 acres of the banks of the Darling River, offering quality accommodation for anyone looking for a rest before venturing back into the Outback.
The Darling River Run calls to just about all 4WD enthusiasts – whether they are experienced or simply looking for a real adventure in the outback. This trip will show visitors what makes the Outback such a popular destination for off-roaders and those looking for a taste of the cultural and historical aspects of New South Wales and Australia as a whole.