Wilcannia

Wilcannia was once a thriving river port on the edge of the Outback, transporting wheat and wool by paddle-steamer along the Darling in the 19th century. Today, its dusty streets are still lined with a remarkable collection of heritage buildings and there’s an emerging movement of local artists.

Art in Wilcannia

The 140-year-old Queens Head Hotel has been reborn as an art gallery and cultural space, with regular exhibitions from members of the local Indigenous community. Local Indigenous man and renowned artist, Eddy Harris has a gallery and studio at Warrawong, a hidden gem on the Darling, just outside of town.

Heritage buildings

Walk the streets of Wilcannia today and you’ll see a legacy of colonial buildings quarried from local sandstone in the late 1800s, when the town had a peak population of 3,000. Historic buildings include the Wilcannia Athenaeum, the post office, police station and courthouse, and the Wilcannia Golf Club.

The historic sandstone Wilcannia Court Couse built in 1880

The historic sandstone Wilcannia Court Couse built in 1880

Things to do

The historic town of White Cliffs is less than an hour from Wilcannia. Explore Australia's oldest commercial opal field, visit opal showrooms and spend a night in the Underground Motel. The tiny town of Ivanhoe is 4hr 30min south. Founded in the 1870s, it’s an authentic Outback experience off the beaten track.

Queen Room at Underground Motel White Cliffs in White Cliffs, Outback NSW

Underground Motel White Cliffs, Outback NSW - Credit: Janine Gowenlock

Paroo-Darling National Park is an area of outstanding natural beauty, almost 2hr drive northeast of Wilcannia. Walk around Peery Lake, see amazing birdlife and if you wish to spend more time in the area pitch a tent at Coach and Horses campground.

Emus at Paroo-Darling National Park in Wilcannia, White Cliffs Area, Outback NSW

Emus in the Paroo-Darling National Park - Credit: John Spencer/DPIE

Mutawintji National Park, 200km north of Wilcannia, is home to incredible and historic Aboriginal sites. Take a guided tour of hand stencil art of local Aboriginal communities at Mutawintji Historic Site. Follow the Homestead Gorge walking trail to see scenic vistas and ancient Aboriginal rock engravings.

Mutawintji National Park - Aboriginal rock art

Tour guide Keanu Bates showing visitors Aboriginal rock art in the Mutawintji National Park

Getting there 

Wilcannia is an 11hr drive from Sydney and Melbourne, 10hr from Canberra and 8hr from Adelaide. You can fly into Broken Hill and hire a car for the 2hr drive. You may need a 4WD for unsealed roads and national parks. While there’s very limited accommodation in Wilcannia itself, you can stay at the White Cliffs Underground Motel, an hour away, or at the very good Warrawong on the Darling caravan park just outside of town.

 

Plan your trip

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