Along the Darling
The magnificent and majestic Darling River, with its primary source on Queensland's Darling Downs, meanders its way south west through Outback NSW onto its confluence with the Murray River at Wentworth on the NSW/Victorian border before flowing as one through South Australian and onto Lake Alexandrina.
Part of the Murray Darling Basin, which covers 1,061,469 square kilometres (14% of the total area of Australia), the Darling River is Australia's longest river flowing 2,739 km.
The river has always been an integral part of indigenous culture and was named the Darling after being 'discovered' by explorer Charles Sturt in 1829 who named it in honour of Sir Ralph Darling - the then Governor of New South Wales.
Early navigation of the Darling River provided the opening up of the outback, and river ports along river were be needed for the pastoralists to access the sea ports of Melbourne and Adelaide . With the ports, towns grew around them to service the river trade and the outlying farms.
Towns like Wentworth, Wilcannia and Bourke became integral centres for the transport of Australia's wool clip and today the centres still provide a similar integral link; although the transport today is not by the river but via road and rail.
The Darling River Run is one of the best ways to experience the Outback NSW and includes routes along the river as well as many side-trips to experience the wider region; people, places, farmstays, National Parks, etc.
With a vast array of experience and accommodation along the way, the Darling River provides a great addition to those venturing further into the outback and out to the Corner Country.
The indigenous culture along the Darling is rich and many National Parks provide wonderful insights to the river’s significance to the many indigenous groups who have live on its banks and surrounding plains.
Most of the National Parks provide wonderful facilities for day-visits as well as excellent campgrounds for traditional and RV camping as accommodation facilities in shearers quarters and the like.
While the European connection to the region is far less in regard to time, it is in many ways no less significant as more people we are appreciating the European history and culture to a greater extent and with a greater form of identity; much the same as the indigenous culture and history.
This connection is what makes us Australian and a trip through Outback NSW and along the Darling provides a wonderful opportunity to further understand our history in the context of the early explorers, pastoralist as well the indigenous cultures.