Balranald, Outback NSW
The quiet and pretty town of Balranald is located on the Murrumbidgee River 859 km from Sydney. Originally inhabited by the Wemba-Wemba Aboriginal group, who called the area 'Nap Nap', Balranald was probably the first town settled on the New South Wales side of the river. Balranald is now one of the major entry points to the Lake Mungo National Park and the recently opened Yanga National Park.
The population of Balranald Shire is approximately 2,500 people and the township has become renowned for the habitation of a frog! But not just any frog: Balranald is home to the highly endangered Southern Bell frog species (Litoria Raniformis) which is listed on the NSW Endangered Species List.
Gazetted a town on the 4th April 1851, Balranald is considered the oldest settlement on the Lower Murrumbidgee.
George James McDonald, the Commissioner for Crown Lands, named the town after the place he was from, Balranald on the Isle of Uist in the New Hebrides.
The town prospered on the primary industries of wheat, wool and red gum timber. Agriculture is still a strong factor for the economy of the town with farmers now growing canola, cotton, wheat, barley, fruit, grapes and vegetables.
Balranald is a potential geographer’s living classroom. It is a pivotal place of two great Australian landscapes, to the east the Riverina Plain and to the west the Murray Darling Depression.
Euston, the Shire’s second town located 80kms west of Balranald on the Sturt Highway, is ideally positioned on the mighty Murray River. Other localities in the Shire include Kyalite (on the Wakool River), Oxley (between Hay and Balranald on the Murrumbidgee River), Penarie (Historic Homebush Hotel), Hatfield and Clare (both on the way to Ivanhoe).
Culturally, this area is rich in both Aboriginal and European history. World Heritage Listed Mungo National Park has attracted world attention arising from archaeological sites containing human remains of at least 50,000 years.
Aboriginal Culture is also in abundance at Yanga National Park. These days it’s a National Park which celebrates its Indigenous heritage, pastoral history and many natural wonders.
There is much to see and do in and around Balranald:
Visit the Interpretative Pavilion, The Museum, The Old Gaol, the Wintong School and the Skate Park all at the Discovery Centre
- See Aboriginal Art and Craft at the Discovery Centre and The Gallery
- Visit the Art Gallery with it’s many exhibitions
- Walk the Heritage and Military Trails and see the Swing Bridge
- Visit the Royal Theatre
- Birdwatching enthusiasts can walk the Ben Scott Memorial Bird Trail.
- Take an Outback Geo Adventure’s tour to Yanga and Mungo
- Of course, Balranald also offers wonderful parks with playground equipment for those travelling with children, or the young at heart. A swimming pool in the heart of town is the ideal spot to cool off in the warmer months.
- See interesting shops and enjoy the town’s restaurants and eateries
- If you are looking for a place surrounded by kilometres of river, landscapes teeming with life and where the sound of birds is the most popular music, Balranald is the place for you!
Balranald Weather Outlook
Driving to Balranald
There are many different routes that can be taken when driving from any of the capital cities to Balranald. The following is an overview of the routes from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide that may help you in planning your outback experience.
Warrego Highway <> Newell Highway <> Sturt Highway: Distance = 1,490km approx
Hume Highway <> Sturt Highway: Distance = 885km approx
Calder Freeway <> Murray Valley Highway <> Mallee Hwy <> Sturt Highway: Distance = 437km aprox
Mallee Highway <> Sturt Highway: Distance = 528km approx