Driving to Bourke

A visit to the Darling River town of Bourke should be high up on any outback traveller’s list, as it is not only such an iconic town in terms of indigenous and pastoral history, but also the perfect way to get an insight to life in the Australian outback and history of our most iconic river.

It is not hard to agree with famous Australian poet Henry Lawson when he wrote, "if you know Bourke, you know Australia" (1882). Bourke is such part of the fabric of outback Australia and is a mecca for those seeking a truly outback experience.

Driving Sydney to Bourke

Driving from Sydney to Bourke can be as varied of the outback itself, but probably the two most popular are direct via Dubbo or via the Hunter Valley and Kamilaroi Highway.

Going via Dubbo includes the drive west from Sydney through the Blue Mountains; a worthwhile stopover for those who have not experience this popular destination.

The route via the Hunter Valley eliminates the often congested road over Blue Mountains with the added benefit of touring some wineries.

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Blue Mountains - Mitchell Highway

Sometimes, the most direct touring route between tow destinations is not always the most exciting, but not so in this case of driving from Sydney to Bourke via the Blue Mountains and Dubbo; they are so many stopover options to experience.

For those who have not experienced the majestic Blue Mountains, the area offers plenty for a day or two exploring Echo Point, the Three Sisters, and Wentworth Falls.

From the Blue Mountains, the route heads out to Mudgee via the Castlereagh Highway and onto the Nyngan via the Mitchell Highway and it is a straight run to Bourke.


Sydney <> The Blue Moutains <> Mudgee <> Dubbo <> Nyngan <> Bourke

Distance: 760km

The Hunter Valley - Kamilaroi Highway

While not the most obvious way to head to the outback, going via the Hunter Valley avoids the often congested Blue Mountains route and provides the opportunity to experience the Hunter Valley Wine region.

The route from Sydney heads north to Newcastle then heads west though the wine region before joining the Kamilaroi Highway at Willow Tree for the run up through Narrabri and onto Walgett, Brewarrina and finally Bourke.


Sydney <> Newcastle <> Musswellbrook <> Narrabri <> Walgett <> Bourke

Distance: 995km

Driving to Bourke from Melbourne

Heading to an iconic town like Bourke is further enhance by the iconic routes the lead from Melbourne… the Long Paddock and the Kidman Way. Doesn’t get better than that!

The Long Paddock, an historic cattle-run, stretches from Moama (just over the Murray River from Echuca), through Deniliquin, Hay, Ivanhoe and Wilcannia. From Wilcannia, the route joins the Darling River Run for a trip upstream to Bourke.

The Kidman Way, also an historic cattle-run linking stations of the Sidney Kidman empire, runs from Jerilderie, through Hillston, the outback mining town of Cobar, and onto Bourke.

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The Long Paddock

This great touring route takes in the Murray River at Echuca (a wonderful stopover), before joining the start of the Cobb Highway at Moama and running up through Mathoura, Deniliquin, Wanganella, Booroorban, Hay, Booligal, Ivanhoe, and Wilcannia.

From Wilcannia, the route to Bourke is up the Darling River Run though Tilpa, and Louth before arriving in Bourke. The area between Wilcannia and Bourke has several great farmstays for the real outback experience.


Melbourne <> Echuca <> Deniliquin <> Hay <> Ivanhoe <> Wilcannia <> Bourke

Distance: 1,134km

Kidman Way

Driving the Kidman Way to Bourke from Melbourne, the route heads to the Victorian/NSW border at Tocumwal via Sheparton, then heads the start of the Kidman Way at Jerilderie.

From Jerilderie, the route crosses the Murrumbidgee River at Darlington Point then continues north though Griffith, Hillston and Cobar before passing Gundabooka National Park and into Bourke.


Melbourne <> Tocumwal <> Jerilderie <> Hillston <> Cobar <> Bourke

Distance: 982km

Driving to Bourke from Brisbane

The drive from Brisbane to Bourke and the Darling River can include cross the NSW/QLD border at Goondiwindi or south of Cunnamulla; there are options but these are considered the most popular.

Both routes head west from Brisbane to Toowoomba via the Lockyer Valley. The route via Goondiwindi heads down to Moree then west along the Kamilaroi to Bourke while the Cunnamulla route heads west along southern Queensland before head south into NSW and onto Bourke.

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Goondiwindi - Moree

The Moree route from Brisbane takes the Warrego Highway through the Lock Valley and up over the Great Dividing Range at Toowoomba before heading south-west along the Gore Highway to Goondiwindi.

Crossing the border into NSW, the route continues along the Newell Highway to Moree before heading west along the Kamilaroi Highway through Walgett and Brewarrina, continuing along the Darling River to Bourke.


Brisbane <> Toowoomba <> Goondiwindi <> Moree <> Walgett <> Brewarrina <> Bourke

Distance: 917km

Adventure Way - Mitchell Highway

The route through southern Queensland also heads out through the Lockyer Valley to Toowoomba, but heads along the Adventure Way to Dalby then across to St George and onto Cunnamulla.

From Cunnamulla, the route heads south along the Mitchell Highway, across the NSW/QLD broader through Enngonia and onto Bourke.


Brisbane <>Toowoomba <> Dalby <> St George <> Cunnamulla <> Bourke

Distance: 1,051 km

Driving to Bourke from Adelaide

They say ‘distance makes the heart fonder’, and while Adelaide is a fair way from Bourke, it location enables some wonderful outback touring routes to get to Bourke.

The most direct route, via Broken Hill and then up the Darling is a magnificent adventure, as is another popular route via Mildura, Hay and up the Kidman Way.

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Barrier Highway - Darling River Run

Not much more direct than this, and with a stopover in Broken Hill, not a bad first stop. From Broken Hill, it’s a run west along the Barrier Highway to Wilcannia and then up the Darling River (Darling River Run) through Tilpa (one of the most iconic outback pubs), onto the historic Darling River port of Louth and onto Bourke.


Adelaide <> Burra <> Broken Hill <> Wilcannia <> Tilpa <> Louth <> Bourke

Distance: 1,047km

Sturt Highway - Kidman Way

The Sturt Highway route is less direct but, as a bonus, takes in a lot more diversity of the Riverland, Murrayland, and Riverina before heading north along the Kidman Way.

The route out of Adelaide passes the iconic Barossa Valley wine region before heading through the Riverland towns of Renmark and onto Mildura.

From Mildura, the route heads west along the Sturt Highway to Hay before heading north to join up with Kidman Way at Goolgowi and onto Cobar and Bourke.


Adelaide <> Renmark <> Mildura <> Hay <> Hillston <> Cobar <> Bourke

Distance: 1,275km

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