Famous as the last stop for ill-fated explorers Burke and Wills, the tiny town of Menindee is the oldest European settlement in western NSW and the first town to be established on the Darling River. Once an important trading hub in the 1800s, Menindee now draws visitors to its stunning inland lakes and natural wonders. And thanks to recent rains, the landscape is now brilliantly green and teeming with birdlife.
Menindee was founded in the 1850s and the first business to open its doors was the Menindee Hotel, now known as the Maiden’s Hotel. It’s the second oldest hotel in NSW and you can still call in for a meal or a drink. Burke and Wills stopped here in 1860 as they made their way north, searching for a route across the continent.
Just outside of town, you’ll find the exact place where Burke and Wills camped beside Pamamaroo Creek. The site of the Old Kinchega Homestead tells the story of the region’s Aboriginal and European heritage. Once the heart of a vast sheep station, the ruins paint a captivating picture of life in the late 19th century.
Step back in time at the historic Kinchega Woolshed, built in 1875 from corrugated iron and river red gum. This woolshed is a well-preserved piece of Australian pastoral heritage, with six million sheep sheared here during its 97-year history. See the machinery room and original steam engine that powered the hand shears.
Explore the gorgeous Darling River on the River Lady boat cruise. Tours run every day and depart from the weir around 20min outside of town, before winding along a waterway that is dotted with ghostly river red gums and home to thousands of flocking waterbirds.
Kinchega National Park is also famous for its birdlife. Flocks of black swan, pelican, duck and egret live on the banks of the Menindee Lakes. There are many self-drive routes through the park and you can camp by the river. The Kinchega Homestead Billabong walking track takes in historic homestead ruins and ancient Aboriginal sites.
Getting there & where to stay
Menindee is an 11.5hr drive from Sydney, around nine hours from Canberra and Melbourne, and seven hours from Adelaide. You can fly into Broken Hill and hire a car for the 1hr 15min drive. You may need a 4WD for unsealed roads and national parks. Accommodation options include motels, campgrounds and the historic Maiden’s Hotel.