Famous Australian poet Henry Lawson lived and worked for a period in and around Louth and referred to it as, 'a place that loved a drink, a party and a punt.'

Lawson's addage perfectly summed up the town and its people; his impressions from that period are even more relevent today if one is to experience the famous outback race event known as the Louth races whereby the normally sleepy Darling River hamlet swells by the thousands for, well, a drink, a party and a punt (gamble).

More on Louth Races

Louth Races were first held on 27 December 1880, but in its modern form as the Louth Turf Club, its history dates back to 1959 and its fiftieth anniversary attracted a record crowd of over 6,500 visitors; pretty impressive for a town of less than 100 people.

While a race meeting of this size is great for the punters to experience a bit of outback partying, there is a much deeper implication of race meeting as it benefits not only the town financially but also significant donations are given to the RFDS (Royal Flying Doctor Service).

Held on the first Saturday after the NSW Bank Holiday, the Louth Races is a seven-race program with prizemoney over $74,000; a far cry from the 1880 races which was a two-race program with a 60 sovereign two-mile open handicap.

Today’s Louth Races offers bookies and TAB for betting as well as food and bar facilities and even marquees for those that like a bit of outback style.

But it is also more than just a race day with the Gundabooka (one-stick) Golf Challenge held on the Wednesday, an Art & Craft Fair at the Public School on Friday, while a race Calcutta is held at the local pub, Shindy’s Inn, on the Friday night.

While many ‘punters’ arrive during the week for the pre-race events, it is the Friday when the masses start arriving, and the vibe really picks up, especially in the racecourse campground.

For insight to what the Louth Races is all about, here is a published article of my recent visit to the Louth Races.

Louth is a small service town consisting of a pub, fuel stop and general store (all rolled up into one) on the Darling River about 100km downstream from Bourke and 100km upstream from Tilpa.

Originally established as a service point for the Cobb & Co coaches, Louth founder TA Mathews opened a hotel and general store to service both the booming Darling River trade as well as Cobb & Co coaches servicing pastoralists throughout Outback NSW and Queensland.

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The iconic outback NSW town is perfectly located for access to the Darling River Run via the eastern or western side of the river for travelling downstream to Tilpa then onto Wilcannia as well as the upstream to Bourke and further up to Brewarinna and Walgett.

Unique to Louth is an amazing and poignant structure known as 'The Celtic Cross'; an eight metre high polished granite cross that dominates the cemetery on the hill overlooking the town. The monument was constructed by the founder of Louth Thomas Matthews as a perpetual memorial to his wife, Mary Mathews, who died in 1866.

This granite monument was so skilfully designed and positioned that at sunset each day it reflects the sun's light into the village of Louth.

On the 19th August, the anniversary of her death, the reflection is able to be seen from The Retreat, which was Thos and Mary's home. The monument is not only testament to the love and devotion of a husband for his wife, but also the accuracy of navigation technology of the 1800's as its alignment was reportedly aided by one of the river boat captains of the Darling River.

Recent studies by the Surveyor General's Department of NSW expressed amazement in the skills of the surveyors and river boat Captains of the 1870's who were able to develop this engineering phenomenon with the limited equipment of the time.

Visitors to Louth can observe this just occurrence just prior to sunset on a cloudless afternoon, and the locals have thoughtfully marked the places throughout the year that the visitor can experience the 3 minute lightshow.

Louth is located on Darling River Run, and many properties in the area, like Trilby Station, offer a variety of accommodation options from Bed and Breakfast lodgings in the converted shrearers quarters to caravan/motohome and camping sites on or nearby the Darling River.

Louth See & Do:

  • Louth Races
  • Shindy's Inn
  • Darling River
  • Celtic Cross
  • Gundabooka National Park

Getting to Louth:

By Car:

  • From Brisbane: 1,020km
  • From Sydney: 870km
  • From Melbourne: 1,100km
  • From Adelaide: 1,123km

Regional Transport Services:

Louth Information Centre (Bourke):

Kidman Way Bourke 2840

Bourke Visitor Information Centre Website     

Telephone: 02 6872 1321