Once a major 19th century river port and trading post, today Bourke is an historic outback town on the banks of the Darling River, famed for welcoming travellers. Take some time to relax here and discover heritage landmarks and Aboriginal culture, as well as thrilling outdoor adventure in the nearby national parks.
Historic charm & bush poets
Follow the Bourke Town Trail to see historic landmarks from the Cobb & Co stagecoach days, including the blacksmith’s workshop, Carrier’s Arms Hotel and Bourke Courthouse. The heritage-listed courthouse is where bushranger Captain Starlight was charged after his capture in 1868.
At the Back O’ Bourke Exhibition Centre, hear tales of early exploration and the paddleboat trade, and learn about the Traditional Owners of the region, the Ngemba people - as well as farmers, stockmen, bushrangers and Afghan cameleers. Legendary Australian poet Henry Lawson lived in Bourke in the 1890s.
During winter, if the water level allows, learn about Bourke's colourful past aboard the Paddle Vessel Jandra, a replica of an 1895 paddle-steamer. Tickets and packages are available from the Back O' Bourke Exhibition Centre. All cruises depart from Kidman’s Camp.
About 50min drive from Bourke is Gundabooka National Park, which stretches from the Darling River, across the plains and over Mount Gundabooka. See fascinating Aboriginal rock art of the Ngemba and Paakandji people, camp under the stars or stay at the historic Redbank Homestead.
Eat & drink
Enjoy casual, relaxed dining at Diggers on the Darling, which caters for families and offers a courtesy bus. Bourke’s Best Bites has great sandwiches and desserts, open until 3pm and Morrall’s Bakery has been serving delicious pies and freshly baked bread for over 110 years.
Getting there & where to stay
It takes about nine hours to drive to Bourke from Sydney and eight hours from Canberra. Alternatively, you can fly to Cobar and hire a car for the two-hour drive. 4WD cars are recommended for unsealed roads and many of the national parks.
There are a number of places to stay, from motels to campgrounds. For an authentic farm stay, make the 125km drive to Trilby Station, a working Outback sheep station with cottages and powered campsites on the Darling River. Alternatively, Comeroo Camel Station is 150km northwest of Bourke, and also has cottages and a campground.
Located 12km north of Bourke, Kidman's Camp offers comfortable accommodation and true outback experiences, such as Poetry on a Plate, where you can enjoy a slow-cooked meal and an evening of poetry around a campfire.