Darling River Run Source to Sea

Darling Downs to Lake Alexandrina

Drive Brisbane Adelaide - Darling River Source to Sea. The Darling River from Source to Sea touring route from Brisbane to Adelaide incorporates the longest tributary of the Darling River, the Darling River Run, and the Lower Murray River to Lake Alexandrina. This is an epic touring route across three states.

Part of the Murray-Darling Basin which covers an area of 1,061,469 square kilometres (14% of the total area of Australia), the Darling River is Australia's longest river flowing 2,739 km.

The upper tributaries of the Darling River flow from the Darling Downs in South East Queensland with the river proper starting between Walgett and Brewarrina to flow in a south-west direction through the centre of Outback NSW before joining the Murray River at Wentworth, and then continuing as one to South Australia's Lake Alexandrina and into the Southern Ocean to the east of the Great Australian Bight.

Long before European settlement and the search to find the 'inland sea' of Australia, the Darling River region was home the first Australians and indigenous culture in the area is documented to go back over 45,000 and encompasses more than an estimated 15 Aboriginal language groups.

The river has always been an integral part of Aboriginal culture and was named after being 'discovered' by explorer Charles Sturt in 1829 in honour of Sir Ralph Darling - the then Governor of New South Wales.

The Condamine-Balonne Rivers catchment forms one of the largest catchments in the Murray Darling Basin, rising from elevated areas of the Darling Downs. Sourced from near Mt Superbus in the Main Range National Park, the Condomine River passes through Killarney; becoming the Balonne near Condamine. 

The Maranoa River, a tributary flowing from the Carnarvon Gorge, meets the Balonne at Lake Kajarabie (Beardmore Dam) near St George from which the Culgoa River flows southwest to join the Darling River about 20km east of Bourke.

At 1,195 km (Condamine, Balonne and Culgoa channel) it provides a wonderful, and natural, touring route from Southeast Queensland down to Bourke.

* NOTE: for those travelling with a caravan, the route to and from Killarney-Brisbane should be done via Warwick and Toowoomba as the route across the Great Dividing Range via Spring Creek Road, Head Road, Carney Creek Road is not suitable for caravans as it is too narrow and too windy.

If you are travelling with a caravan do an overnight at either Killarney or Warwick, un-hitch and explore the area around the source of the Condamine near the Head and Main Range National Park.

Condamine River Main Range National Park Queensland

The Condamine, Balonne, and Culgoa Rivers

Distance: 1,041 km

Killarney, Queensland


Located about 190 km southwest of Brisbane, Killarney is set beautifully in the shadow of the Main Range (Great Dividing Range) 515 m above sea level, beside the Condamine River.

In nearby Main Range National Park, the source of the Condamine River can be traced up to Mt Superbus and slowly gathers a bit of momentum as it meanders gently through the Cambanoora Gorge (also known as the Condamine Gorge)

The 14 Crossings Drive through the gorge is highly recommended (check water levels before attempting) and as the name suggests, the drive zig-zags across the river fourteen times along the river section upstream of Killarney. Absolutely and well worth the effort! BUT, be sure to check water levels with Warwick tourism before doing it.

In the area also are the excellent Queen Mary Falls, Daggs Falls and Browns Falls; located along The Falls Drive.

Apart from the very impressive old Queensland hotel in the main street, the appeal of Killarney lies in the natural features around the town, but the connection to the river is evident; there is sculptor Lana Tyacke's sensuous sandstone "Eternal Flow" work a plaque which reads

"A prayer for a clean flowing river system from Killarney through to the Murray River, out to the Southern Ocean"

The perfect place to start the journey as we follow the pristine mountain waters of the Main Range in South East Queensland, through outback NSW to its confluence with the Murray River and on to Lake Alexandrina and the South Ocean.

Killarney to Warwick (34 km)

Route:

  • Warwick Killarney Rd

Warwick, Queensland


Often referred to as the capital of the Darling Downs, Warwick is located on the western side of the Great Dividing Range and near the headwaters of the Condamine River.

Characterized by elegant churches and some grand schools, Warwick is located in the southern Downs about 40 km south-west of Brisbane.

Warwick was settled over 150 years ago, with much of its great architecture preserved (The “Heritage and Historic Building Trails” feature many of the well-preserved churches, cottages, railway stations, schools and monuments – each with its own story.

One of Warwick's favourite sons is Thomas Byrnes, a talented son of poor Irish immigrants, he rose to be Queensland Premier in 1898, whose imposing statue stands in the main street.

Two must-see attractions along the trail are the Warwick and District Historical Museum and the Abbey of the Roses.

October is a great time to visit with the Warwick Rodeo and the Morgan Park Raceway; the main reasons Warwick refers to itself as the “Horsepower Capital of Australia”.

Warwick - Dalby (180 km)

Route:

  • Cunningham Highway
  • Leyburn Cunningham Rd
  • Millmerran Leyburn Rd
  • Pampas Horrane Rd
  • Toowoomba Cecil Plains Rd
  • Dalby Cecil Plains Rd

Along the Way

  • Millmerran
  • Cecil Plains

Dalby Queensland


Known as the hub of the Darling Downs, Dalby is a major regional commercial centre located in an area of fertile volcanic soil.

The town is surrounded by fields of wheat, cotton, mung beans, sunflowers, sorghum, millet, and barley. Dalby has the state's largest grain receival centre, but also produces stud cattle, sheep, pigs and angora goats.

The region's thriving cotton industry spreads from Dalby, south to Goondiwindi and west across to St George.

Dalby's importance is one of the state's most important regional industrial, agricultural and manufacturing centres due to its natural gas, coal and power generation.

A wonderful place for the visitor, Dalby has wonderful picnic spots beside the river, an attractive park in the centre of town, wide country town streets and plenty of other attractions.

Dalby - Surat (270 km)

Route:

  • Warrego Highway
  • Chinchilla Tara Rd
  • Kogan Condamine Rd
  • Condamine Highway
  • Yuleba Surat Rd
  • Carnarvon Highway

Along the Way:

  • Chinchilla
  • Condamine

Surat Queensland


Surat is located 78 km to the south of Roma on the Carnarvon Highway - part of the Great Inland Way; the town was originally a Cobb & Co changing station.

Surat is just the place to immerse yourself in natural tranquillity on the banks of the beautiful Balonne River with the Surat Riverwalk which follows the Balonne River for approximately 2kms and features leisure equipment, excellent footbridges and a spectacular viewing platform overlooking the river.

Continue your stroll through the picturesque Lions Park to the main street businesses. Continue on and around the corner to walk by the grand 1930’s Shire Hall.

The Cobb & Co Changing Station Museum now houses an amazing 25,000L freshwater aquarium, social history museum, and regional art gallery.

Surat - Hebel (278 km)

Route:

  • Carnarvon Highway
  • Castlereagh Highway/St George Dirranbandi Rd

Along the Way

  • St George
  • Dirranbandi

Hebel Queensland


With echos of stories of the Kelly Gang, the little town of Hebel on the border between New South Wales and Queensland is a wonderful place for s stopover.

With an iconic pub, complete with artwork of Lightning Ridge artist John Murray adorning the walls, it is a very quirky pub indeed; adding to the appeal is the recycled furniture made from reclaimed bush finds.

The Hebel General Store and RV Park has kept much of its original 1890s dancehall character and offers amazing home-cooked cakes, desserts, and meals. By night it's a restaurant under the stars complete with white tablecloths and flowers on the tables.

Accommodation at the RV park can be a caravan site or cabin and makes for the perfect base to explore the Culgoa Floodplain National Park.

Hebel - Bourke (278 km)

Route:

  • Hebel Goodooga Rd
  • Goodooga Rd
  • Twin Rivers Rd
  • West Culgoa Rd
  • Mitchell Highway

Along the Way

  • Goodooga
  • Weilmoringle

Bourke NSW


Bourke, NSW, the legendary Darling River town in Outback Australia where it is easy to agree with famous Australian poet Henry Lawson when he wrote, "if you know Bourke, you know Australia" (1882); the iconic Darling River town such part of the fabric of outback Australia and is an RV’ers mecca for a true outback experience.

More than just an outback river town, Bourke is a region that, figurative, is a demarcation between the outback and the east; anything further inland is known as the 'Back o Bourke' which is a colloquial term deeply etched in Australian vernacular meaning to be a long way away from anything.

On the contrary, and this is probably what Henry Lawson meant, the further inland you go, the closer you get to the true essence of Australia.

kidmans camp bourkeLocated about 8Km north of Bourke along the Mitchell Highway and situated on the banks of the mighty Darling River, Kidman’s Camp is not just a stopover on your journey – it is a destination in its own right!

The Darling River Run

As the Condamine, Balonne, Culgoa waterway joins the Darling River northeast of North Bourke, the following section is an abridged version of the original Darling River Run. The sections upstream of Bourke are easily reached using Bourke as a base.

The Darling River Run can follow the western or eastern sides of the river, but the following version will highlight the preferred route that most travellers take.

The Darling River Run - Camping at May's Bend on the Darling at Bourke, Outback NSW, Australia. Simon Bayliss

Bourke, NSW


Bourke is a thriving service town and a mecca for travellers, due in part to its location at the crossroads of the north-south and east-west routes of outback NSW, but more importantly due to the efforts of the town to provide an ever-increasing number of experiences on offer; experiences that showcase the town’s history and unique place it holds in terms of a river port on one of our most iconic rivers.

The jewel in the crown for Bourke is the recently developed Back O' Bourke Exhibition Centre, a world-class facility with interactive installations and stunning visual displays covering the Indigenous and European history of the region. It would have to be one of the best of its type in Australia.

But no visit to Bourke would be complete without experiencing a trip down the Darling on the PV Jandra, a faithful reproduction of an 1894 steam-powered paddleboat that was used to collect wool bales along the route.

Just sit back while the old paddle boat weaves its way along the river, with the wonderfully rhythmic beat of the paddles hitting the water, and listen to the informative narrative of the captain on the history of the river, paddle boats and life in the region over a century ago.

  • Bourke Highlights
    • Back O Bourke Exhibition Centre
    • PS Jandra
    • The Old Wharf Precinct
    • Fred Hollow's memorial and Bourke's history-filled cemetery
    • Mt Oxley
  • Bourke Accommodation:

On the map above, GREEN is the preferred route.

The Darling River Run Touring Map and Guide

Download yours for FREE!

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Route Overview:

The eastern route, past Gundabooka National Park, is more popular and the best maintained, providing great access to the highlights of Gundabooka NP. 

While the western side of the Darling River is the longer route, it is much more scenic with a variety of landscapes and the opportunity to visit Toorale National Park as well as crossing over the Warrego River, an ephemeral tributary of the Darling that originates in central Outback Queensland. The Warrego will only flow into the Darling during a good high flow.

Be sure to cross the river to visit Louth for a lunch break (Shindy's Inn) and have a look around. ** Be sure to cross back over the river before heading downstream to Trilby Station.

trilby station louthThe icon of the Darling River... historic Dunlop Station. Un-powered Campsites along the picturesque Darling river and shearers huts are available to stay in.

Road Route (142 km):

  • Mitchell Hwy/B71
  • Hungerford Rd
  • Bourke-Milparinka Rd
  • Toorale Rd (Unsealed)

The Darling River Run, driving from Bourke to Louth (Trilby Station), Outback NSW Australia

Meals & Provisions:
  • Bourke (Food, Fuel, Provisions, Pubs, Repairs)
  • Louth (Pub, Fuel, Meals)

Louth, NSW


Louth was originally established as a service point for the Cobb & Co coaches that serviced outback Australia, and as the Darling River was being used more as a river transport alternative, the town established itself as a pivotal river port. Louth’s founder, T.A Matthews, established a hotel and general store to service both the booming river trade as well as Cobb & Co.

Every year, the tiny town of fewer than one hundred people swells by thousands when the Louth Races are held in August.

Louth is also famous for the ‘Celtic Cross’, a seven-metre structure constructed by Thomas Matthews as a perpetual memorial to his wife, Mary Mathews, who died in 1866 at the age of forty-two.

The Cross has become a dedication to the early pioneering women.

The poignancy of his dedication to his wife is that on the anniversary of Mary's death, August 19, the setting sun is reflected from the cross to the point where the front door of their house was located.

Not only a testament to the love and devotion of a husband for his wife, but the monument also demonstrates the accuracy of navigation technology of the 1800s. Its alignment was calculated by one of the riverboat captains of the Darling River.


Dunlop Station, Louth NSW


Step back in time at historic Dunlop Station, 14km downriver from Louth on the western side of the river. Originally over a million acres, Dunlop's main claim to fame is the fact that it was the first shed in the world to complete a mechanical shearing back in 1888.

The Chandler family offer guided tours of the original stone homestead, the 45 stand shearing shed and the station store - all dating back to the 1880s, from 11 am Wednesday through to Sunday. (Closed Monday and Tuesday). Tour cost is $15 pp and $40 family and includes morning tea.

Peaceful river campsites are also available.

More on Dunlop Station

Route Overview:

Heading into the Central Darling area, the middle section of the Darling River Run covers the more remote and outback areas of the river plain; including the ephemeral Paroo River, which joins the Darling River (only during very high/sustained flows) just upstream of Wilcannia.

A short section (a relative term in regards to outback driving), means that either side of the river can be undertaken.

If the eastern route is the choice, head upstream to Louth (after crossing the river), then down the eastern side before crossing back over the river at Tilpa (on the western bank) before heading back upstream to Kallara Station (about 15 minutes drive). This will also give the opportunity to stop at the Tilpa Weir on the eastern side of the Darling River about 10km from Tilpa.

The preferred, western route will get you to Kallara Station quicker, and visiting Tilpa pub can be done on the trip to Wilcannia. (Perfect lunch break)

kallaraThe McClures call Kallara Station “the accessible outback” as it is central to the historic River Ports of Bourke and Wilcannia and the outback mining towns of Cobar and White Cliffs.

Road Route (56km):

Dunlop Station to Kallara Station (western route)

  • Bourke-Wilcannia Road
  • Gravel (Dry Weather Road)

The Darling River Run - Trilby Station, Louth, to Kallara Station, Tilpa, Outback NSW, Australia

Meals & Provisions:

Depending on which route you take, Tilpa Pub is a short drive from Kallara Station if taking the western route, or is on the way if you take the, slightly longer, eastern route.


Tilpa, NSW


Located on the western banks of the Darling River, the very welcoming town of Tilpa is a must for a stopover, whether you have a few hours or a few days for camping and fishing on the Darling River. The old pub is a true classic and has been welcoming travellers and locals for over 100 years.

The walls of the pub are covered with graffiti written by visitors who make a gold coin donation to the Royal Flying Doctor Service for the privilege. The graffiti makes for an intriguing read while having a cold beer and a chat with the locals and other fellow travellers.

Originally a busy port servicing the river trade and local agriculture, Tilpa was a 'crossroad' in the outback as the bridge of the river served as a stock crossing and port for the wool clip being transported down to Wentworth and onto either Echuca or Adelaide.

Tilpa Uniqueness

  • Only Boer War memorial with commemorative to Harry 'Breaker' Morant.
  • Shortest heritage trail in Australia comprising just two signs.
  • Tilpa cemetery is the only one in Australia with no one in it.

Route Overview:

The route for the day is primarily on the eastern side of the Darling River, after a visit (or lunch) at the iconic Tilpa Pub.

After lunch, and signing the wall if you can find a spot, it is time to cross the river and head downstream along the eastern bank through Paroo-Darling National Park, and even a stop at the Coaches & Horses campground, right on the river, to break the drive up a bit.

Road Route (155 km):

Kallara Station to Warrawong on the Darling (Wilcannia)

  • Tilpa-Louth Rd
  • East Tilpa Rd
  • Barrier Highway

The Darling River Run, driving from Tilpa (Kallara Station) to Wilcannia (Warrawong on the Darling), Outback NSW Australia

Meals & Provisions:
  • Tilpa Pub (Meals and Fuel)
  • Wilcannia (Fuel, supermarket, vehicle repairs)

Wilcannia, NSW


Located where the Barrier Highway crosses the Darling River, Wilcannia is a largely undisturbed port on the Darling River. Cross the bridge driving from Sydney to Broken Hill and turn either to your right or left when you enter the town and you will be amazed at the richness of the architecture.

It is easy to see that Wilcannia was once a very important Outback NSW town and Darling Riverport and the remnants of a once-important inland port are evident.

Some of the town's historic treasures include the National Trust classified old centre-lift bridge (1896), the beautiful 1880 post office, the Athenaeum Library (1883) and the impressive courthouse (1880), police station (1881), and the police residence (1880), which were all built of locally quarried sandstone and designed by James Barnet.

Wilcannia Highlights

  • Old 'lift-span' bridge over Darling River
  • Darling River access
  • Paroo-Darling National Park

Paroo-Darling National Park


Paroo-Darling National Park is an ancient world of red sandhills on the Darling River floodplain. The only unregulated section of the Murray Darling Basin, the ephemeral Paroo River, sustains a diverse ecosystem when it flows; and will only flow into the Darling River during very high flows.

The Paroo-Darling National park is divided into two separate sections; the northern section is northeast of White Cliffs, while the southern section (Wilga Station) straddles the Darling River upstream of Wilcannia. More on Paroo-Darling National Park

Route Overview:

A quick side trip for today's adventure... away from the Darling River, and off for some opal!

About one hour's drive from Wilcannia is the Opal mining town of White Cliffs. An easy drive, sealed all the way, to one of the most iconic, some say eccentric, outback destinations. It is like the wild-west but a lot friendlier and inviting. There are many 'must-see' destinations, White Cliffs is the real deal! 

White Cliffs Hotel, White Cliffs,  Corner Country, Outback AustraliaWhite Cliffs is one of the most unique outback towns in Australia. The Opal Mining boom in the 1880s gave birth to this isolated township in “the middle of nowhere”. It is a must-see!.

Road Route (95 km):

  • Barrier Hwy/A32
  • Opal Miner's Way

The Darling River Run, driving from Tilpa (Kallara Station) to Wilcannia (Warrawong on the Darling), Outback NSW Australia

Meals & Provisions:
  • Wilcannia (Fuel, supermarket, vehicle repairs)
  • White Cliffs (Meals, fuel, general store)

White Cliffs, NSW


White Cliffs is a truly unique outback experience. Like silence? Tired of the bright lights and noises of the city and want a peaceful night's sleep under a million brilliant stars? White Cliffs has that for a truly restful night and plenty to explore during the day.

White Cliffs is Australia's oldest (seam) opal field and developed from a chance finding of opal in the 1880s by a group of kangaroo hunters, and the opal rush began.

There are four significant opal mining settlements in Australia. Coober Pedy (popular with backpackers and tourists because of its closeness to the Stuart Highway), Andamooka (still like the Wild West), Lightning Ridge (quite sophisticated and suburban) and White Cliffs, which seems to have just the right balance between wildness and civilisation. More about White Cliffs

Route Overview:

 Never a fan of backtrack on a route, but the trip to White Cliffs, and a stay at the White Cliffs pub, makes it worth it.

Well rested, it is time to head back along the Opal Miner's Way to Wilcannia and then down the western side of the Darling River to Nelia Gaari Station.

NOTE: There is no river crossing at Nelia Gaari, so the only way into Nelia Gaari is via the western side. The only river cross downstream is at Menindee, over an hours drive.

Nelia Gaari StationNelia Gaari Station, north of Menindee.  If you are looking for a quite convenient spot on the Darling River to park your caravan/campervan or four-wheel drive for overnight or as long as you like.

Road Route (179 km):

Drive White Cliffs to Nelia Gaari Station

* NOTE: Nelia Gaari is only accessible from the western route (No river crossing).

  • Opal Miner's Way
  • Barrier Hwy/A32
  • West Wilcannia Rd (Unsealed Road)


darling river run white cliffs nelia gaari outback nsw australia

Meals & Provisions:
  • White Cliffs (Meals, fuel, general store)
  • Wilcannia (Fuel, supermarket, vehicle repairs)

Wilcannia, NSW


Located where the Barrier Highway crosses the Darling River, Wilcannia is a largely undisturbed port on the Darling River. Cross the bridge driving from Sydney to Broken Hill and turn either to your right or left when you enter the town and you will be amazed at the richness of the architecture.

It is easy to see that Wilcannia was once a very important Outback NSW town and Darling Riverport and the remnants of a once-important inland port are evident.

Some of the town's historic treasures include the National Trust classified old centre-lift bridge (1896), the beautiful 1880 post office, the Athenaeum Library (1883) and the impressive courthouse (1880), police station (1881), and the police residence (1880), which were all built of locally quarried sandstone and designed by James Barnet.

Wilcannia Highlights

  • Old 'lift-span' bridge over Darling River
  • Darling River access
  • Paroo-Darling National Park

Route Overview:

With over half of the Darling River Run completed, it is time to hit the big-smoke, refresh, at the most iconic inland city in Australia, Broken Hill.

Broken Hill is a true icon of Outback Australia, sitting on an iron-rich red landscape under a big Azure sky... remarkable colours and contrasts that are synonymous with Australia's Corner Country (where the real outback begins).

Broken Hill, its name conjures up so much that we identify with Australia. Henry Lawson once stated "if you know Bourke, you know Australia", an adage that could apply equally to Broken Hill as it does to Bourke (but with a slightly more modern context).

Lake View Caravan Park, Broken Hill, Outback NSWLake View Caravan Park, Broken Hill

Your affordable, family-friendly holiday destination!

Road Route (170km):

Driving from Nelia Gaari Station (Menindee) to Lake View Caravan Park (Broken Hill)

  • West Wilcannia Road (Unsealed)
  • Menindee Road
  • Barrier Highway

The Darling River Run - Drive from Menindee to Broken Hill Outback NSW, Australia

Meals & Provisions:
  • Menindee (Fuel, Meals, Repairs, General store)
  • Broken Hill (Pretty much everything)

Menindee NSW & Menindee Lakes


Menindee and the surrounding area is steeped in legend and history; the region is of great indigenous significance and European pastoral history. The area is known to the Barkindji people as 'Minandichee' and it is believed this is how the name originated.

The explorer Major Thomas Mitchell followed the Bogan and Darling Rivers down to this area in 1835 and came across the naturally formed lakes which he named 'Laidley's Chain of Ponds', the Barkindji people referred to these as 'Wontanella' meaning 'Many Waters'.

Charles Sturt, a decade later, travelled up the Darling River from Wentworth through Menindee on his expedition to find the fabled inland sea.

The Menindee Hotel was opened in 1953 to supply provisions to the surrounding area and the town established itself as a major Darling River Port after Captain Francis Cadell proved the river was navigable.


Kinchega National Parks


Located within a few kilometres of Menindee, Kinchega National Park provides wonderful access to the Darling River for river camping and fishing and is rich in indigenous and pastoral history.

The park provides some of the best access to Darling River along the ‘Run’ and is rich in natural history; a place that seems designed for nature lovers and photographers.

It's also a place to immerse yourself in Aboriginal and European heritage.

Sit back, relax and watch the native wildlife, where the red sand reaches up and touches the clear blue sky. 

No trip to Outback NSW would be complete without visiting Broken Hill, the Silver City, and it is only a short drive (115 km) from Menindee along Menindee Road (sealed).


Broken Hill, NSW


The capital of Outback NSW is undoubtedly Broken Hill, an oasis in the outback that provides the perfect base for exploring the NSW region known as the Far West including the vast Corner Country to the north.

A premier touring destination, Broken Hill is known for its artists, living indigenous culture, and the evocative Living Desert Reserve with an internationally renowned Sculpture Symposium.

The town's name is attributed to an 1844 account by the explorer Charles Sturt who noted in his diary "Silver ore was later discovered on this broken hill in 1883 by a boundary rider named Charles Rasp".

Today the city sits on one of the world's largest known silver-lead-zinc lodes which is seven kilometres long and over 220 metres wide.


Silverton, NSW


Silverton, few outback places are as iconically outback Australia and visitors come from far and wide to this little town on the edge of the real outback.

Silverton was once a thriving mining town, which later became a ghost town, only to be currently re-inventing itself as a lively destination of museums, art galleries and unique cafes and gift shops. Add to that, a VERY iconic pub adorned with images of films made in the area, including Mad Max with Mel Gibson.

To the west of Silverton is Mundi Mundi plains, a perfect place to watch the sunset over the remote outback, and sitting at the lookout, it can be an ethereal experience. More on Silverton

Route Overview:

Rested and revived after staying in Broken Hill, it is time to head back to Menindee to explore the town and lakes before heading to Bindara Station, an icon of the lower Darling River.

The road to Menindee is bitumen, while the route from Menindee through Kinchega National Park is the start of the unsealed road. Be sure to get a visitor's guide for what to see and do in Kinchega National Park. Kinchega provides the best access to the Darling River of all parks along the Darling River Run.

bindara station menindeeHistoric Bindara Station is located on the West side of the Darling, south of Menindee. The Station is ideally situated between Pooncarie & Menindee and also a convenient stop-off between Mungo & Kinchega National Parks.

Road Route (208 km):

Driving from Broken Hill to Bindara Station via Menindee/Kinchega NP

  • Barrier Highway
  • Menindee Rd
  • Old Pooncarie Rd

The Darling River Run - Drive from Broken Hill to Menindee to Outback NSW, Australia

Meals & Provisions:
  • Broken Hill (Pretty much everything)
  • Menindee (Fuel, Meals, Repairs, General store)

Kinchega National Park


Kinchega National Park, located in the central Darling about one hour south-east of Broken Hill, provides wonderful access to the Darling River for birdwatching, historical insights, river camping and fishing. Rich in indigenous and pastoral history, Kinchega is bounded by the Darling River upstream from Menindee Lakes.

The park provides some of the best access to Darling River. Kinchega National Park is rich in natural history, a place that seems designed for nature lovers and photographers. It's also a place to immerse yourself in Aboriginal and European heritage. Sit back, relax and watch the native wildlife, where the red sand reaches up and touches the clear blue sky.


Menindee, NSW


Menindee and the surrounding area is steeped in legend and history; the region is of great indigenous significance and European pastoral history. The area is known to the Barkindji people as 'Minandichee' and it is believed this is how the name originated.

The explorer Major Thomas Mitchell followed the Bogan and Darling Rivers down to this area in 1835 and came across the naturally formed lakes which he named 'Laidley's Chain of Ponds', the Barkindji people referred to these as 'Wontanella' meaning 'Many Waters'.

Charles Sturt, a decade later, travelled up the Darling River from Wentworth through Menindee on his expedition to find the fabled inland sea.

The Menindee Hotel was opened in 1953 to supply provisions to the surrounding area and the town established itself as a major Darling River Port after Captain Francis Cadell proved the river was navigable.

Route Overview:

Continuing south along the western bank of the Darling River, the next stop is the beautiful hamlet of Pooncarie, an excellent place for lunch down by the river and even some momento shopping at the great little gift shop.

From Pooncarie the route heads west to Lake Mungo (Mungo National Park) for a unique experience and insights into First Nation history and a bit of European history.

To get the most out of the Mungo Visit, a full day of exploring the National Park is scheduled.

Mt Gipps Station, Borken Hill,  Corner Country, Outback AustraliaMungo Lodge offers to rest your mind and body. Right on our doorstep, you can explore Mungo NP and the World Heritage Willandra Lakes Region. With a full range of Mungo accommodation options available.

Road Route (183 km):

Bindara Station Lake Mungo NP

  • Old Pooncarie Rd <> Polia Rd (Unsealed)
  • Pooncarie Rd
  • Top Hut Rd (Unsealed)

The Darling River Run - Drive from Menindee to Lake Mungo National Park, Outback NSW, Australia

Meals & Provisions:
  • Pooncarie (Fuel, Meals, General store)

Pooncarie, NSW


The area, originally known as ‘Pooncaira’ came into existence during the 1940s as European settlers took up illegal livestock runs on crown land and by the 1960s the Federal Government took control of the area by formalising the illegal land claims.

More settlers followed and soon the town was gazetted as Pooncarie which become a service town for the outlying pastoral properties.

With the increasing paddle steamer traffic transporting the wool clip onto the southern seaports, Pooncarie established itself as an important, if not short-lived, Darling River Port.

Today, Pooncarie is a great little Darling River service town for those travelling the Darling River Run or exploring the lower Darling region of Outback NSW, especially nearby Lake Mungo.
The town comes to life each year when the visitors converge on the small hamlet to attend the Pooncarie Cup (Horse Racing).


Lake Mungo, Mungo National Park


In theory, Lake Mungo is little more than the remnants of an ancient dry lake with a twenty-kilometre sand dune ridge formed on one side, but in reality, it is one of the most significant anthropological and archaeological sites in the world. Mungo exhibits 40,000+ years of continuous human habitation.

The much-photographed 'Walls of China' and the ‘lunette’ are highlights all visitors should experience as the story they reveal is truly remarkable.

So significant is the region, it has been internationally recognised with World Heritage listing.

The options are plentiful with self-drive tours, organised tours, or a combination of both.

For the best way to experience Lake Mungo (National Park), the friendly staff at Mungo Lodge can help with maps, guides, and booking tours.

Visit World Heritage Mungo National Park, home of the famous Mungo Lady and Mungo Man, and explore a place rich in Indigenous history. Enjoy a walk or picnic, or camp near Lake Mungo.

Route Overview:

It's hard to believe, but the Murray-Darling confluence is a little over an hour's drive away, with some much explored and experienced along the way. But it isn't over yet!

The last leg of the tip has two great options and one Amazing place to stay at the end of your Darling River Run.

Lake Paika Station is an apt way to finish your journey, a place to put your feet up, reflect, and enjoy some great hospitality.

There are two options:

  1. Visit Wentworth then head across to Lake Paika: Perfect for those who have not been to see where the Darling River joins the Murray River.
  2. Head straight to Lake Paika (with the option to go to Wentworth after your Lake Paika experience.

bindara station menindeeTake a step back in time, unwind, relax and enjoy unique accommodation in the restored self-contained Workmans' quarters. Experience this natural wetland, reinstated in 2012, after more than 100 years of being stranded from its lifeline, the Murrumbidgee River.

Road Route:

Drive Lake Mungo to Lake Paika Station (131 km)
  • Marma Box Creek Rd
  • Hatfield Penarie Rd
  • Ivanhoe Rd 
Drive Lake Mungo <> Wentworth <> Lake Paika Station (342 km)
  • Arumpo Rd
  • Silver City Hwy

- Wentworth -

  • Silver City Hwy
  • Sturt Hwy
  • Ivanhoe Rd

The Darling River Run - Drive from Lake Mungo National Park to Wentworth or Balranald, Outback NSW, Australia

 
Meals & Provisions:
  • Balranald (Mostly Everything)
  • Wentworth (Meals, Fuel, Supermarket, Pubs)

Balranald, NSW


The quiet and pretty town of Balranald is located on the Murrumbidgee River 859 km from Sydney. Originally inhabited by the Wemba-Wemba Aboriginal group, who called the area 'Nap Nap', Balranald was probably the first town settled on the New South Wales side of the river. Balranald is now one of the major entry points to the Lake Mungo National Park and the recently opened Yanga National Park.

The population of Balranald Shire is approximately 2,500 people and the township has become renowned for the habitation of a frog! But not just any frog: Balranald is home to the highly endangered Southern Bell frog species (Litoria Raniformis) which is listed on the NSW Endangered Species List.

Gazetted a town on the 4th April 1851, Balranald is considered the oldest settlement on the Lower Murrumbidgee.


Wentworth, NSW


Wentworth, NSW, a place that, in 1844, was described as "Magnificent trees droop like willows to the water's edge with evening's mildest radiance in their foliage, throwing a soft haze over the distance...", and has lost nothing of that ethereal beauty, has to be a place to visit.

The person who wrote these words was no other than the explorer Charles Sturt, and anyone visiting Wentworth to sit on the banks of the Murray or Darling can see why Sturt was moved to describe the river junction as he did.

More on the Wentworth

The Lower Murray River Run:

Wentworth to Lake Alexandrina

Distance: 548 km

The last major section for the adventure following the Darling River from the source to the sea is the drive along the Murray River from Wentworth to the Coorong is via the 'road less travelled'!

The route is suitable for all types of vehicles and perfect for caravans and RVs. 

shout* For more detail on this route, please refer to the Lower Murray River Run in the Murray River Touring Route Section.


Wentworth NSW


Famous inland explorer Charles Sturt described the area of the Murray Darling confluence, the site which would become Wentworth, "Magnificent trees droop like willows to the water's edge with evening's mildest radiance in their foliage, throwing a soft haze over the distance..." Wentworth has certainly not lost any of that ethereal beauty and has to be a place to visit.

Wentworth was originally named Hawdon's Ford, before being surveyed in 1858 and named Wentworth in 1859 after the Australian explorer, journalist and politician William Charles Wentworth.

Before the inland and the Darling River was opened up, Wentworth was the hub to which much of the wool clip was brought for shipment to either Echuca (for transport to Melbourne) or Morgan (for transport to Adelaide).

Due to the efforts of the early river pioneers in the late 1850's, William Randell (PS Mary Ann) and Francis Cadell (PS Lady Augusta), the Darling River was opened-up for trade and Wentworth became the first river port of the Darling - although its early development can also be attributed to the river trade already being developed along the Murray.

By the late 1880's Wentworth was Australia's busiest inland port. In 1895, 485 vessels were recorded as passing through the Customs House (31 in one week alone).

Today, Wentworth is a large and prosperous township with lots for the traveller to see and experience and is an ideal base to explore some amazing experiences in the area.


Wentworth to Renmark (165 km)

Route:

  • Renmark Rd
  • Rufus River Road

Normally, a drive from Wentworth to Renmark would be joining up with the Sturt Highway south of Mildura, while quicker, there is no adventure or great experience in that.

This adventure route heads west from Wentworth, across the Great Darling River Anabranch, past Lake Victoria and follows the Murray River on its western/northern bank to Renmark.


Renmark, SA


The Murray River town of Renmark is synonymous with fruit production, and set beautifully along Australia’s longest river and is characterized by wide streets and riverbank parklands.

Limes, Olives, oranges, plums, apricots, and grapes flourish in the area today but that was only made possible by the efforts of the Chaffey brothers (George and William), who, in 1887 signed an agreement with the South Australian government to create an irrigation scheme in the area; a first for Australia. But it was short-lived and really only became successful after it was agreed that the distribution channels be moved underground (1959).

The name Renmark is attributed to the First Nation’s word meaning Red Mud.

Today, the town is a popular tourist destination where it is possible to enjoy the majesty of the Murray by hiring a bicycle and cycling along the riverbank; hiring a canoe or kayak and paddling along the river, or visiting the historic PS Industry and Argo Barge moored at the river's edge.

Five Interesting Facts:

  • In the 1890s 'Breaker' Morant worked in the local area on the Paringa Station. When Paringa Station went broke Morant and two of the boys from the station joined the Bushveld Carbineers and served in the Boer War. He was subsequently executed by the British.
  • In 1897 the Renmark Community Hotel became the first community-owned hotel in the British Empire.
  • The explorer Captain Charles Sturt rowed a whaleboat down the Murrumbidgee in late 1829 and reached the junction with the Murray River on 14 January 1830. He passed the present site of Renmark in late January and reached Lake Alexandrina on 9 February 1830.
  • In 1901 the Chaffey Brothers started building the town wharf. It was completed in 1905.
  • The town was decimated by the infamous 1956 flood.

Renmark to Overland Corner (103 km)

  • Sturt Highway
  • Kingston Rd
  • Sturt Highway
  • Morgan Rd

Looking at a map, it is easy to why the overlanders chose to ignore the route of the Murray River south from Renmark to Loxton, then North the Overland Corner as it is only 32km as the crow flies.

Our route is intended to provide an insight into how the lower Murray River flows to Lake Alexandrina and this section is quite amazing as the river heads south for 37km to Loxton then north-west for 39km to the Corner.

The route crosses back over the north/west side of the Murray River (downstream perspective)

A short distance from the Overland Corner, the route goes past Loch Luna and Lake Bonney. Lake Bonney was named after Charles Bonney, who with Joseph Hawdon, plotted to first overlander route to Adelaide from the NSW colony.

Loxton is a wonderful Murray River service town with set beautifully on the southern bank of the Murray River; affording the opportunity picturesque grassy parks overlooking the river.
The town itself boasts first-class accommodation, unique attractions, a nationally recognized golf course, thriving retail and business centre, wine tasting, numerous festivals and events, beautifully maintained gardens, and a variety of nature-based activities such as swimming, boating, canoeing, fishing, and bushwalking.

Named after a Bookpurnong Station boundary rider William Charles Loxton, who lived in a hut from 1878 to 1881 beside the river.

A ‘not to be missed’ attraction of Loxton, is ‘The Village’ which is a wonderful, educational, experience of yesteryear. A step-back-in-time to the pioneering days of the mid-1800’s complete with over 45 buildings and exhibits providing a great insight into the lives of early settlers and their families.


The Overland Corner, SA


The Overland Corner is a tiny settlement on the Murray River in the Riverland area of South Australia, west of Renmark. The Murray from Renmark travels southwest to Loxton then heads northwest to the Overland Corner. The Corner is located near Barmera and Cobdogla.

Traditionally, the area had been used by First Nation people for thousands of years having camped, built wurlies and lived on the resources provided by the river; many artefacts have been found in the area as well as burial grounds and canoe trees.

The term ‘Overlander’ refers to the method of moving stock overland, especially between the colonies of NSW and the colony of Adelaide during the early-mid 1800s. Prior to that, the stock would need to be transported via ship which would take a lot longer and result in a large number perishing during the voyage.

Drovers would rest their stock and let them graze on the extensive and lush river flats before continuing the journey to Adelaide.

When the Murray River trade started, the Overland Corner was Overland Corner developed as a point where timber was supplied to fuel paddle steamers.

In 1859 the Overland Hotel was built, and by the 1870's it was the recognized overnight camping spot. Sometimes up to 30,000 sheep grazed the river flats near the hotel.

Situated 680 metres from the Murray River and 21 kilometres from Barmera off the Goyder Highway, the hotel boasts the biggest beer garden in the Riverland. The Hotel is a fully licensed venue, with an amazing collection of memorabilia showcasing its history and that of the area.

Overland Corner to Morgan (68 km)

  • Goyder Hwy

From the Overland Corner, the route follows the Murray River west as far as Waikerie at which point it crosses the river back to the south/east side. The crossing is not by a bridge, but by car ferry (the first of several from here).

Waikerie is a small, pleasant town sitting on the cliffs (30 metres above sea level) above the Murray River in the heart of South Australia's rich Riverland district. It is surrounded by citrus orchards and extensive stands of apricots, peaches, pears, and plums. The cliffs at this point in the Murray are so high that water from the river has to be pumped up to provide the orchards with water.

It is believed that the Ngawait Aborigines, who inhabited the area before the arrival of Europeans, called the giant swift moth, "wei kari" meaning "many wings' It is from their language that the town's name derived some sources believing that it means 'many wings or birds' or 'anything that flies'.

From Waikerie, it is a lovely drive up to Cadell, on the south side of the Murray River. Cadell is a name synonymous with the Murray River due to a exploits of an early riverboat captain who not only explored the Murray River but proved, receiving a hefty reward for doing so, that the Murray River was navigable and a viable option for the wool trade to get the wool clip to Adelaide for export to Britain. A remarkable achievement.


Morgan, SA


The township of Morgan was surveyed in 1878 and named after the, twice, Governor of South Australia, Sir William Morgan, and has played an integral part in the history of the Murray River. The local indigenous population referred to the area as `Koerabko’, meaning a place for good honey and meeting place of the tribes.

As for its role in the history of the river, NSW and Victoria held claim to certain rights and commercial advantages over the Murray and Darling rivers, as NSW had a railhead at Bourke on the Darling, while Victoria had its port at Echuca on the Murray. Both provided a way to connect the opening interior of the country with river transport that could be linked to their capital cities via rail. The South Australian government of the time also wanted to secure a similar link to their capital, Adelaide, and its port.

Morgan became a major hub of the country’s growing pastoral development, bringing the wool clip from outlying areas to the Port of Adelaide for shipping back to England. The growth of Morgan was rapid and was soon servicing six trains a day to Adelaide with the five steam-operated cranes on the wharf operating 24hrs a day unloading boats and barges.

Morgan grew as the river transport businesses boomed. The booms also led to the inevitable oversupply of river vessels, and with the advent of increased efficiency and coverage of the rail network, this was the beginning of the end of the rail/river era.

Its swansong came with the amalgamation of all the riverboat companies to form the Murray Shipping Ltd, which was bolstered by the business to supply materials needed for the building of the locks and weirs of the Murray River.

The decline of the river trade after the ’20s meant the regression of towns like Morgan. Fortunately, the importance of its rich history is being realized and preserved by facilitating ways for future generations to appreciate that the river is an integral part of our history and who we are as a nation.

Morgan to Murray Bridge (125 km)

  • Murraylands Rd
  • Hunter Rd
  • Burdett Rd

After Morgan, the Murray River heads south and most of the route follows the east bank has it provides the best view of the wonderful sandstone cliffs on the west bank. 

Crossing over the Murray to visit Blanchetown then following Murraylands Rd down to Swan Reach at which point cross back over to the east bank (ferry).

It is then a run down to Bowhill, the point at which the Murray River heads west again. Sticking close to the river for a great vantage, take the East Front Rd at Younghusband and then back onto Hunter Rd before reaching Bolto for the ferry crossing to Mannum.

The route is a nice run down to Murray Bridge.


Murray Bridge, SA


Long before famous explorer Charles Sturt camped in the area in February 1830 to determine a reason why the eastern rivers of NSW flowed west (in the belief of an inland sea) to a boat down the Murrumbidgee River and all the way along the Murray River, the First Nation Ngarrindjeri people inhabited the area. The Ngarrindjeri people referred to the area as Pomberuk.

Formerly known as Edwards Cross, then Mobilong, Murray Bridge was proclaimed a city in 1993 and is today home to 16,000 people.

In 1879, the first road bridge across the lower Murray was built at Edwards Crossing and was named ‘The Murray Bridge’. In 1886, the bridge became a shared road/rail bridge and in 1925 a separate rail bridge was built.

In 1979 the Swanport Bridge, which incorporates the South Eastern Freeway across the Murray River was completed five kilometres downstream, removing most through traffic from the historic Murray Bridge.

Today the city is the centre of a major agricultural district and is a major tourist attraction within South Australia, with Murray Bridge identified as the "crown" of the Murray Region, containing many attractions for people of all ages.

The Murray River is a picturesque site of houseboats, paddle steamers and happy, relaxed people. Sit back and relax while observing the beauty of this natural wonder.

Although many of the Murray Bridge attractions are water-based, such as skiing and swimming, there are many exciting land attractions that are also well worth a visit.

Just out of Murray Bridge there is a new open-range zoo and breeding ground for arid and grassland animals at the Monarto Zoological Park. Many species of animals can roam this 1000 hectare site. Tourists have the opportunity to take a Safari Bus around the park with a personal guide.

Murray Bridge to Lake Alexandrina (42 km)

  • Princes Hwy

Lake Alexandrina


The magnificent Lake Alexandrina is primarily sourced from the Murray River (with a lesser contribution by Bremer, Angas, and Finniss Rivers) and is a huge body of fresh water at 37 km long and 21 km wide, and has a total surface area of 570 square km.

In the Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime, the lake was inhabited by a monster known as the Muldjewangk; names associated with the lake by the First Nations include Mungkuli, Parnka, and Kayinga

Explorer Charles Sturt is attributed with its ‘discovery’ in 1830, although it is documented that sealers had been visiting Lake Alexandrina before this. The lake was so named by Charles Sturt in honour of Princess Alexandrina (who became Queen Victoria). In fact, when she did become Queen Victoria, there was a discussion to rename the lake to Lake Victoria.

Due to the lake's shallow depth (1.5-4.5 metres) and a treacherous sandbar to the ocean, early thoughts on its maritime potential were short-lived.

Though Lake Alexandrina is connected to the ocean, historically the fresh and saltwater flows mixed very little, with the lake area remaining fresh over 95% of the time with normal river inflow.

The lake empties into the sea via a channel known as the Murray Mouth south-east of the town of Goolwa, but when the river flow is low the mouth is often blocked by a sandbar. During these times, caused by droughts throughout the Murray Darling Basin, the soils on the lake beds which are naturally rich in iron sulphides, are exposed and the sulphides oxidise producing toxic sulphuric acid.

Originally subjected to tidal and storm inflows of seawater, the lake is now maintained as freshwater by a series of barrages known as the Goolwa Barrages which cross five channels between the mainland and three islands near the Murray Mouth. These barrages now prevent seawater inflows that have prevented this phenomenon in every drought since the last ice age

It is a majestic place, and to visit it is to get some understanding of the influence the Murray Darling Basin has on it as the Murray-Darling is more than just a river, it is part of a much larger system, whose health must be ensured for the future.

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