Follow Australia’s longest flowing river, stretching 2739km, down the Darling River Run. The Darling has played an integral part in both Aboriginal and European culture, so allow 14 days to see the many sights along the way.
Sydney to Walgett (668km)
In Walgett, visit one of the Darling’s main tributaries. Make use of the plentiful fishing and birdwatching spots in the area, or relax at one of the local artesian spas before setting up camp at Alex Trevallion Park.
Walgett to Lightning Ridge (78km)
Walgett is the gateway to Opal Country, so take a side trip to Lightning Ridge – the only place in Australia where black opal is found. There you can try your hand at fossicking. Stay at the Opal Caravan Park, opposite the Bore Baths. opalcaravanpark.com.au/
Lightning Ridge to Brewarrina (211km)
See the oldest man-made structure known in Australia: the Aboriginal fish traps. At the visitor centre, a tour guide will explain stories from the Dreaming and you can see local Aboriginal art. Camp the night at Four Mile Camping Reserve. brewarrina-new.local-e.nsw.gov.au
Brewarrina to Bourke (98km)
Explore Gundabooka National Park, then the refurbished Back O’ Bourke Exhibition Centre – celebrating the history of one of the busiest ports on the Darling in the 1800s. Refuel with a pub meal at the Port of Bourke, then indulge in a little overnight luxury at Kidmans Camp. backobourke.com.au; kidmanscamp.com.au
Bourke to Louth (99km)
Louth is a tiny town with a big annual horse race in August that sees the population grow by over 500 percent for three days. Enjoy a pub meal at Shindy’s Inn and lodge at one of the local station stays such as Trilby Station (see page 110), which is an experience alone. louthraces.com; trilbystation.com.au
Louth to Tilpa (93km)
Tilpa is famous for its local pub. The proprietors pass on hundreds of dollars to the Royal Flying Doctor Service – the result of visitors donating a gold coin to write on the pub walls. Be sure to stop in with a pen. Stay at either Kallara Station or Old Buckanbe Station nearby. kallarastation.com.au; outbackbeds.com.au
Tilpa to Wilcannia (128km)
Pick up a copy of the Historical Trail Guide from Wilcannia’s council chambers and discover some well-preserved outback architecture. Many buildings date back to the 1880s, when the town was a busy port. Then rest your weary feet at a campsite at nearby Warrawong, a property with 12km of Darling River frontage. www.visitnsw.com
Wilcannia to Broken Hill (196km)
Divert off the Darling River Run to visit outback NSW’s capital. Learn about Broken Hill’s rich mining history, see local art galleries and natural wonders, and eat at city-style cafés or restaurants. Camp at Broken Hill Tourist Park.
Broken Hill to Silverton (27km)
A trip to Broken Hill is not complete without a trip to Silverton and Mundi Mundi Plains. Stop in at the famous Silverton Hotel, where classic films like Mad Max were shot, before watching the sun sink from Mundi Mundi lookout. Camp at Penrose Park in Silverton. silverton.org.au
Silverton to Menindee Lakes (133km)
Rejoin the Darling River Run at the oasis of The Outback. A vast body of water that is regulated to assist agriculture downstream, the Menindee Lakes are also a mecca for birdwatchers and fishermen. Taste locally produced Menindee seedless grapes before venturing into Kinchega National Park, at the southern end of the lake system. Within the park there’s the huge 1875 Kinchega Woolshed, a quintessential example of its time. Camp on the shores of Copie Hollow, or within Kinchega National Park at Emu Lake campground. menindeelakes.com
Menindee to Pooncarie (123km)
Both sides of the Darling from this point offer impressive scenery and attractions, but both roads lead to the quaint town of Pooncarie, with many picnic havens by the river. Spend the night at Bindara Station, which offers camping, bunkhouse and B&B accommodation. www.visitnsw.com; bindarastation.com