A stop on the legendary Darling River Run, Tilpa is a small town with a big heart. This historic town sits on the western bank of the Darling River and was once a bustling trade port for paddle-steamers. Today, it’s known for its charming Outback pub and welcoming community.
Established in 1894 to service the river boat trade, the Tilpa Hotel is a classic, character-filled Outback pub made of corrugated iron and timber. Chat to the friendly locals as you tuck into a counter meal or a cold drink. The pub also offers comfortable accommodation if you wish to stay the night.
The Tilpa Hotel’s walls are an entertaining read, covered in travellers’ messages. Visitors pay to leave a message, with the money donated to the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Further north along the river, you’ll find Trilby Station, which also has a campground, cabin accommodation and caravan sites.
Two hours' drive northeast is the tiny village of Louth, home to around 40 people. Stop at Shindy’s Inn, a friendly pub on the banks of the Darling River with its walls covered in photos. It also doubles as the town’s only shop and cafe. Look out for the striking 7.6m tall monument to Mary Matthew in the town cemetery.
The town’s claim to fame is the annual Louth Races. Each August, up to 5,000 people descend on the town and its dusty track for a weekend of horse racing, fashion and entertainment. Most people camp by the river and some even fly in on their own small airplanes. It’s an Outback experience not to be missed.
National parks near Tilpa
The White Cliffs area around Tilpa is home to prolific birdlife, making it a great spot for bushwalking and camping. Top nature attractions nearby are the Paroo-Darling National Park or Gundabooka National Park towards Bourke, where you can go camping and see Aboriginal rock art.
Getting there and where to stay
Tilpa is an 11hr 30min drive from Sydney, 10hr 30min from Canberra, 12hr 30min from Melbourne and 11 hours from Adelaide. You can fly into Broken Hill and hire a car for the five-hour drive. You may need a 4WD for unsealed roads and national parks. Places to stay include the Tilpa Hotel and outlying stations that offer an authentic Outback experience.