The Darling River Run is one of Australia's great outback experiences and has long been one of NSW's greatest outback touring routes. The Darling River touches the spirit and replenishes the soul; a places for reflection, a place to inspire.

For many years, we have heard about the demise of the river, and that it would never recover, but that is just the very nature the outback and many of its rivers; if it is not in flood, then it is drought as many say. To understand that is to understand outback Australia.

The actual Darling River starts near Walgett, but the Darling River Run should also include Lightning Ridge, one of the most iconic ‘must-see’ destinations.

Initially, the river follows the course of the Barwon River past Brewarrina onto its junction with the Bogan and together they flow, as the Darling River, to Bourke, Louth, Tilpa, Wilcannia, Menindee, Pooncarie and then on to the confluence with the mighty Murray River at Wentworth.

The Darling River Run is not simply a point A to point B drive but as the river forms the 'spine' of Outback NSW, the journey provides the perfect tour to not only experience the river and the towns along its course but also opens up the best of Outback NSW via the many side trips on offer.

The Darling River Run can be undertaken in whole or in part, as many people cover particular sections of the Run enroute to or from other parts of Outback NSW and beyond.

For more information on the Darling:


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The Upper Darling Section

Walgett to Louth

The upper Darling section of the Darling River Run encompasses the upper tributaries that flow from Queensland's Darling Downs as well as those flowing north-west like the Macquarie, Namoi, and Barwon.

Iconic towns like Walgett, Brewarrina, Bourke, and Louth offer plenty for the visitor (not to mention Lightning Ridge to the north). The towns and regions of the upper Darling are steeped in indigenous history and living culture as well as European pastoral history.

Walgett to Brewarrina

The first downstream sector of the Darling River Run follows the Kamilaroi Highway along the Barwon River before crossing the river just before Brewarrina. The upper Darling is a wonderful region to tour for some unique experiences. Lightning Ridge, while not actually on the river, should always be included in any trip along the Darling and though Outback NSW.

Eastern Route

Road Type: Sealed

Distance: 133 km

Road/Routes:

  • Kamilaroi Highway

Western Route

N/A

As an alternative, the Lightning Ridge Loop via The Ridge, Cumborah and Narren provides a great experience.

Brewarrina to Bourke

The Brewarrina to Bourke section of The Darling River Run is an easy drive along the Kamilaroi Highway with not much access to the river. There is an alternate route via the Culgoa River which follows its path down to where it meets the Darling River..

Eastern Route

Road Type: Sealed

Distance: 97 km

Road/Routes:

  • Kamilaroi Highway

Western Route

Road Type: Gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 137 kms

Road/Routes:

  • North east along Kamilaroi Hwy 8km
  • Left at Collerina Rd: 36km
  • Left at Weilmoringle Rd: 77km
  • Left at Mitchell Highway to Bourke: 16km

Bourke to Louth

Travelling The Darling River Run from Bourke to Louth is normally via the Bourke-Wilcannia rd on the east of the river past Gundabooka NP. An alternative route is possible on the west as it passes through some wonderful red soil country and across the Warrego River.

Eastern Route

Road Type: Gravel (dry weather road) - mostly

Distance: 99km

Road/Routes:

  • Bourke-Wilcannia Rd

Western Route

Road Type: Gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 125 kms

Road/Routes:

  • Out through Nth Bourke
  • Take the Wanaaring/Tibooburra rd
  • Turn off at Pera Bore (21km)
  • Head southeast: 104km

Touring - Upper DRR - Accommodation

Fossickers Cottages, the perfect place to stay, relax and experience Lightning Ridge first hand. Meet locals who are passionate about their town and black opal - the stunning gemstone that is mined from the depths of what was once a great inland sea.
Lightning Ridge Accommodation
Staying with the Murray's on their historic 6th generation, 320,000 acre sheep station on the banks of the beautiful and iconic Darling River is described by many as their ultimate Outback NSW experience.
Louth Accommodation

Touring - Upper DRR - Towns & Attractions

Most would agree, that any travel through Outback NSW should include a few days at Lightning Ridge. Home of the unique Black Opal and like the precious stone it is famous for, the 'Ridge' will show its varying colors depending on how you look at it.
Towns & Localities
Henry Lawson lived and worked for a period in the Louth area and referred to it as, 'a place that loved a drink, a party and a punt..' He was able to sum up the town and yet he never experienced the famous outback race event known as the Louth races where the normally sleepy river hamlet swells by the thousands
Towns & Localities
Walgett likes to describe itself as 'The Gateway to the Opal Fields' because it is an ideal place to stay before heading off to the opal mining town of Lightning Ridge (76 km away) and the smaller opal fields at Grawin, Glengarry and Sheep-Yard Flat, all of which are located north-west of Walgett.
Towns & Localities
For an insight into the Darling River's significance to indigenous history and living culture, the upper Darling town of Brewarrina is a must. Beside the centre of town are the Fish Traps, an ancient arrangement of rocks used to corral fish for catching.
Towns & Localities
It is not hard to agree with famous Australian poet Henry Lawson when he wrote,
Towns & Localities

 

The Central Darling Section

Louth to Menindee

Central Darling River Run, from Louth to Menindee Lake, is a real Outback adventure through the heart of Outback NSW. Wonderful farm-stays along magnificent stretches of the Darling River with outback small iconic towns like Louth & Tilpa and boom towns of yesteryear like Wilcannia.

The lifeblood of the outback is water and the magnificent Menindee Lakes, into which the Darling River flows, is a mecca for outback visitors wishing to camp on the shores of these expansive lakes. Add to that, Kinchega National Park, with its great riverside camping and wonderful interpretive indigenous and European historical displays.

Louth to Tilpa

The Louth to Tilpa section of along the Darling is one of the best with 2 great options; the east route provides some great access to the river along the way while the western route passes some great historic properties like Trilby Station, Idalia Station and Kallara Station. (all providing camping and farm stay facilities)

Eastern Route

Road Type: Gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 92 km

Road/Routes:

  • Bourke-Wilcannia Rd

Western Route

Road Type: Gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 89 km

Road/Routes:

  • Take MR68A from Louth <> Tilpa

Tilpa to Wilcannia

With the choice of an eastern and western route, the Tilpa-Wilcannia section of The Darling River Run passes though some wonder country of the Central Darling. The eastern route passes though the Paroo-Darling National Park (and the wonderful Wilga camping site) while the western route tracks through the Paroo-Darling conservation area.

Eastern Route

Road Type: Gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 145 km

Road/Routes:

  • MR68A from Tilpa

Western Route

Road Type: Gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 129 kms

Road/Routes:

  • Bourke-Wilcannia Rd (Unsealed)
  • Barrier Highway

Wilcannia to Menindee

Travelling from Bourke to Louth is normally via the Bourke-Wilcannia rd on the east of the river past Gundabooka NP. An alternative route is possible on the west as it passes through some wonderful red soil country and across the Warrego River.

Eastern Route

Road Type: Gravel (dry weather road) - mostly

Distance: 154km

Road/Routes:

  • Wilcannia MR68B <> Menindee Rd
  • Menindee Rd <> Menindee

Western Route

Road Type: Gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 151 kms

Road/Routes:

  • SR10 <> Menindee Road

Touring - Central DRR - Accommodation

Lookinq for a quiet convenient spot on the Darling River to park your caravan/camper van or four wheel drive for overnight or as long as you like?
Menindee Accommodation
The McClure family welcomes you to stay with them at Kallara Station, situated on the banks of the Darling River near Tilpa. Kallara is the perfect place to experience what the outback has to offer… friendly people, fishing, bird-watching, four-wheel driving, sitting by the fire, getting away from it all.
Tilpa Accommodation
Warrawong on the Darling, a brand new purpose built Modern Cabin, Caravan and Camping accommodation ground situated just off the Barrier Hwy on 12km of Darling River frontage between Cobar and Broken Hill, 3km from historic Wilcannia.
Wilcannia Accommodation
Staying with the Murray's on their historic 6th generation, 320,000 acre sheep station on the banks of the beautiful and iconic Darling River is described by many as their ultimate Outback NSW experience.
Louth Accommodation

Touring - Central DRR - Towns & Attractions

Henry Lawson lived and worked for a period in the Louth area and referred to it as, 'a place that loved a drink, a party and a punt..' He was able to sum up the town and yet he never experienced the famous outback race event known as the Louth races where the normally sleepy river hamlet swells by the thousands
Towns & Localities
Towns & Localities
The beautifully penned 'The Man from Snowy River' by Banjo Paterson is an immortal Australian poem and in it there is the line,
Towns & Localities

 

The Lower Darling Section

Menindee to Wentworth

Starting the run or finishing the run, the Lower Darling section of the Darling River Run between Menindee Lakes and Wentworth covers some of the best outback attractions and experiences of Outback NSW.

Lake Mango (Mungo National Park) is a ‘must-see’ destinations with its much-photographed ‘Walls of China’, dunes, and Lunette landscapes. But it is more about just outback beauty as there is a very unique story it has to tell about the richness of indigenous culture.

The other major unique feature of the Lower Darling is the confluence of the Murray River and Darling River, and standing at the point they meet and continue their journey as one to the Great Australian Bight.

Menindee to Pooncarie

The Menindee to Pooncarie section of the Darling River Run can be undertaken via western side of the Darling River, locally known as the 'scenic route' (through Kinchega NP) and via our Outback beds member, Bindara Station, a must do stopover situated approximately half way between Menindee and Pooncarie townships, Or the eastern side which is the more direct route, known locally as the 'business road', between the two towns.

Eastern Route

Road Type: Gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 125 km

Road/Routes:

  • Menindee-Pooncarie Road

Western Route

Road Type: Gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 184 km

Road/Routes:

  • Tandou Road < > Old Pooncarie Road 17kms
  • Old Pooncarie Road Tandou- Bindara 30kms (Shows on GPS as Tandou-Bindara Road)
  • Old Pooncarie Road Bindara- Polia (shows on GPS as Bindara-Coona Point Road)
  • Polia Road < > High Darling Road < > Wentworth-Pooncarie Road

Pooncarie to Wentworth

This section of the run can be undertaken via the east of the Darling River (which will enables you to visit Lake Mungo and the Mungo National Park) or the western side which affords more access to the river.

Eastern Route

Road Type: Gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 120 km

Road/Routes:

  • Wentworth <> Pooncarie Rd

Western Route

Road Type: Gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 122 kms

Road/Routes:

  • Pooncarie <> High Darling Rd: 3km
  • High Darling Rd <> Low Darling Rd: 67km
    • * or High Darling Rd <> Garston Rd: 79km - then 3.3 kms to Low Darling Rd*
  • Low Darling Rd<>Silver City H'way: 40km
    • * or Garston Rd<>Silvercity H'way 35km *
    • Silver City H'way<>Wentworth: 6km

Touring - Lower DRR - Accommodation

There’s a farmstay on the Darling River that may have slipped under your radar. No matter whether you’ve flown or driven into luxury resorts or ramshackle stations, rough or chic, this one is a standout.
Menindee Accommodation
This unique outback property near Mungo National Park, has cabin-type accommodation, camping sites and caravan sites. Its commitment to eco-sensitive management means catering for a limited number of guests, which ensures intimate and memorable experiences topped with warm hospitality.
Lake Mungo Accommodation

Touring - Lower DRR - Towns & Attractions

In theory it is nothing more than the remnants of an ancient lake (completely dry and with ancient sand dunes running 20+ km along one side) in the middle of the New South Wales outback. In reality it is one of the most significant anthropological and archaeological sites in the world.
National Parks
The beautifully penned 'The Man from Snowy River' by Banjo Paterson is an immortal Australian poem and in it there is the line,
Towns & Localities
The famous explorers Bourke and Wills reached the Darling River near Pooncarie at nearby Tarcoola Station and made camp at what is now Bilbarka Park in September 1860 on the way to their ill-fated expedition to the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Towns & Localities
A place that, in 1844, was described as
Towns & Localities

 

Outback NSW Road Alerts

This traffic region is bounded by Broken Hill and the South Australian border to the west to Mudgee and the Blue Mountains in the east. This region extends as far north as Tibooburra and the Queensland border and as far south as Cowra and Marsden. The region includes the towns of Dubbo, Parkes and Bourke. There are currently 0 hazards in this region.

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