Darling River Run


Cutting a slash across Outback NSW, the Darling River Run follows the course of the Darling from Walgett to Wentworth, a 730km journey brimming with memories of Australia’s pioneering days. Although the intervening years have cushioned the hardships, the journey along the Darling is still potent with a sense of adventure.

  • White Cliffs, Outback NSW
  • Tilpa Pub, Outback NSW

About Darling River Run

Walgett is the gateway to Opal Country, and a side trip to Lightning Ridge is a must. This opal town is the only place in Australia where Black Opal is found, a glossy, luminous gem with flecks of red, green and blue that make the stone radiate an inner fire. Try your hand at fossicking or visit one of the many attractions that the “Ridge” has to offer.

Brewarrina is home to one of the oldest man-made structures known in Australia, the Aboriginal Fish Traps, still visible in the riverbed. During the fishing season, neighbouring groups would come together for ceremonies and exchanges and the town still has a large Aboriginal population, for whom the region has special significance. The Brewarrina Aboriginal Cultural Centre offers a powerful indigenous perspective on Australian history.

Sunset Strip, Lake Menindee. Image credit: Broken Hill City Council

When the Darling River was used mainly for transport purposes in the late 1800’s Bourke was one of the busiest ports on the Darling. Don’t miss the Back O’ Bourke Exhibition Centre which rediscovers Australia through modern eyes, from the rich cultural history of the past to the future of the NSW Outback.

Tilpa is famous for its pub, made entirely from corrugated iron and covered with graffiti and autographs that bear witness to the dry wit of the bush. Every year the pub’s owners make a substantial donation to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, collected from visitors who pay a fee to add their own contribution to the pub walls.

Situated where the Darling joins the Murray River, Wentworth marks the journey’s end. Cross the footbridge to Junction Island and take in the view of the meeting of Australia’s two greatest rivers from the observation tower, explore Old Wentworth Gaol and climb the red dunes of the prehistoric Perry Sandhills, the backdrop for numerous films and commercials, great for photographers.

Walgett to Brewarrina: Drive west out of Walgett and follow the Barwon River to Brewarrina where it joins with the Darling River Stop to see the ancient Aboriginal fish traps estimated to be over 40,000 years old.

Brewarrina to Bourke: Drive west to Mount Oxley to spot wedge-tail eagles soaring overhead, and then continue to legendary Bourke . Stop for lunch on the main street; then peruse the world-class Back O' Bourke Exhibition Centre, where a series of interactive installations and visual screen displays will immerse you in the Aussie Outback's rich cultural history. The old Carriers Arms Hotel - purportedly Henry Lawson's local - is a great place for dinner before spending the evening in a station stay or motel.

Bourke to Louth: Relax with a morning of sightseeing before getting back on the gravel road. Follow the river redgums to Louth: population 50, and head straight for the town's centrepiece, the pub, for lunch surrounded by photos of life on the Darling. Come to experience Louth's annual race meeting where the population swells to 5,000!

Louth to Tilpa: Drive the scenic Wilcannia-Bourke Road through the Central Darling to Tilpa. Pay your respects at the Boer War memorial then check into the 100-year-old Tilpa Pub. This classic Outback pub is constructed from corrugated iron and timber, with walls covered in travellers' messages. Chat to the friendly locals as you tuck into steak sandwiches and a cold beer before retiring after a long day of driving.

Tilpa to Wilcannia: Drive through open plains to Wilcannia, once one of Australia's busiest inland ports. You'll find the Wilcannia of today a much quieter place, but its historic architecture is well worth a look.

Wilcannia to Broken Hill: Detour from the Darling River Run to visit Broken Hill, the jewel of Western New South Wales. Most famous for its mining, the town offers stunning arid landscapes, heritage buildings and a thriving arts scene including the Pro Hart Gallery. Stop for lunch and be sure to visit Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery, the oldest in the state. You can even travel a little further to see the nearby Sculpture Symposium and visit Silverton with the car made famous in the 'Mad Max' films.

Broken Hill to Menindee: Drive 110km to the red sandhills of the Menindee region, the Darling River's first European settlement. Visiting the Menindee Lakes is a must. The region hosted some of Australia's most eminent explorers, and with an abundance of wildflowers and orchards, is something of a desert oasis. Photograph the lakes at sunset, fish for perch at dinner, and spend the night explorer-style at Pamamaroo Creek's Burke and Wills campsite.

Menindee to Mungo National Park: Drive past the tiny township Pooncarie. Then, whatever you do, don't miss out on a side trip into Mungo National Park, part of the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area and about 75km south-east. The park offers fascinating features such as ancient dry lake, Lake Mungo. This is the site of discovery of significant archaeological remains, including the 60,000-year-old Mungo Man; and has crescent-shaped dunes called the Walls of China which stretch along the eastern side of the lakebed and look magnificent at sunset.

Mungo National Park to Wentworth: Head southeast to Wentworth, where you'll find a variety of things to see and do - from outback adventure tours to wine tastings and water skiing. An important colonial-era river port, Wentworth also has much to interest history buffs, so stay awhile in this fascinating town where the mighty Darling River meets up with the Murray.


Avoid driving tired and reach your destination

Roads & Maritime NSW

When driving, always consider how tired you are - fatigue is one of the top three contributors to Australia's road toll.

Ensure you have had enough sleep before your trip and share the driving wherever possible. When driving on Australian roads take advantage of the many 'rest areas' available, regardless of whether it's a long-distance or short-distance trip.

Easily locate rest areas and plan your rest breaks for your next journey by visiting www.rms.nsw.gov.au