Menindee was the first town to be established along the Darling River and quickly became a port for river steamers carrying cargoes of wool downriver. An outpost that made settlement viable for the sheep stations scattered across the parched semi desert of the Outback, Menindee is also the gateway to Kinchega National Park, an important habitat for many wetland bird species.
Kinchega Woolshed is a monument in corrugated iron and river red gum to the millions of sheep that were shorn here and to the stout hands that worked the blades. Built in 1875, this is a statuesque reminder of Australia’s pastoral heritage. Inside the woolshed visitors can see the wool presses and tables, the machinery room and an original steam engine that powered the hand shears, as well as the pens where the sheep were held for shearing.
At Kinchega National Park, the Darling River forms a chain of natural lakes. Irrigation dams have broadened these lakes and the river gums that border the waterways add a majestic quality to the landscape, especially when the setting sun turns the trees into silhouettes. The bird life of the area is sensational. The abundance of water creates a natural larder that attracts flocks of black swans, pelicans, ducks, waterhens, egrets, ibis and even seagulls. Local operators in Menindee offer boat tours that explore the bird rookeries along the banks.
Old Kinchega Homestead was once the heart of a vast sheep station that covered more than 4,000 square kilometres and supported more than 100,000 sheep at its peak. Set on the edge of a billabong, remnants of the homestead, built of locally made bricks, paint of picture of life and work on a remote sheep station in the late 1800s. This is an enthralling story that invokes the region’s Aboriginal and European heritage.
Maidens Menindee Hotel is the second oldest pub in the state still serving liquor. Its most famous visitors were the explorers Robert O’Hara Burke and William John Wills, who arrived in Menindee in 1860 by river steamer. Although the hotel suffered from a fire in 1999 and many historic artefacts were lost, the pub is still cherished for the well-chilled beer it dispenses to thirsty outback travellers.