The Darling River Run
Outback Driving Adventures
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Total Route Details:
- Distance: 1,000km - Mostly Sealed Roads
- Allow: Min 7 Days (6 Nights)
Overview:The Darling River Run is a journey of discovery along one of Australia’s most iconic rivers. Steeped in indigenous culture and pastoral history, an adventure along the Darling can include staying at any of the Outback Beds members along the river, and in the surrounding area when venturing away from the river to explore the wonderful Outback NSW.
Like many parts of outback Australia, the Darling basin is rich with Indigenous history, spirituality and living culture, as well as being an integral part of early European history and exploitative efforts of iconic Australians like Burke & Wills, Sturt, and Major Mitchell.
The Darling River, Australia's longest, runs 2,740km through outback NSW. Part of the Murray-Darling basin, the river is fed primarily from the summer rains of southern Queensland that makes its journey south-west across the state to Wentworth where it joins the mighty Murray River, the two rivers flow as one on to Lake Alexandrina and into the Great Australian Bight.
The Darling River Run, one of the best Outback NSW attractions and travel experiences, can be undertaken in whole or in part... that is the beauty of this adventure. Many people cover particular sections of the Run enroute to or from other parts of Outback NSW and beyond or take one of the many side-trips and then rejoin the Run to continue along the course of the river.
The river starts near Walgett, but the Darling River Run should also include Lightning Ridge as well as other towns off the actual river as it is the best way to experience the best of Outback NSW towns and National Parks. The Darling River Run 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.
Lightning Ridge - Louth (Upper Darling Section)
The upper Darling section of the Darling River Run encompasses the tributaries that flow from Queensland's Darling Downs as well as those flowing north-west like the Macquarie, Namoi, and Barwon rivers.
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.
While Lightning Ridge is not actually on the river, it is part of the Darling River Run and should always be considered when travelling the Upper Darling... it really is one of those 'must-see' destinations and no stay at the 'Ridge' would be complete without a stay at Fossickers Cottages, our member in Lightning Ridge.
Walgett < > 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. Our member near Walgett is Caloola B&B, on the Barwon.
East Route: Kamilario Highway (Sealed) 133km
Brewarrina < > Bourke:
The Brewarrina to Bourke section of the Darling River Run is an easy drive along the Kamilaroi Highway but without much access to the river. There is an alternate route via the Culgoa River which follows the river's path down to where it meets the Darling River. With so much on offer in Bourke, allow at least 2 nights, and there is the option of staying out at Mt Oxley, about 40km east of town at Food & Huts by Mt Oxley or in Bourke itself.
East Route: Kamilaroi Highway (Sealed) 97km
West Route: Kamilaroi Highway, Collerina Road, Weilmoringle Road, Mitchell Highway (Some Unsealed) 125km
Bourke < > Louth:
Travelling the Darling River Run from Bourke to Louth is normally via the Bourke-Wilcannia Road on the east of the river past Gundabooka National Park. An alternative route is possible on the west side of the river which passes through some wonderful red soil country, crossing the Warrego River. Trilby Station, considered by many as one of the best in the area, is our Member near Louth (on the western side of the river).
East Route: Bourke-Wilcannia Road (Unsealed) 99km
West Route: Wanaaring/Tibooburra Road, Bourke-Hawker Gate Road, Louth Road (Unsealed) 125km
Upper Darling Members
Upper Darling Towns
Louth to Menindee (Central Darling Section)
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, is one place all outback travellers should visit.
Louth < > Tilpa:
The Louth to Tilpa section of along the Darling is one of the best with two 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 our member Kallara Station.
East Route: Bourke-Wilcannia Road (Unsealed) 92km
West Route: MR68A from Louth (Unsealed) 89 km
Tilpa < > Wilcannia:
With the choice of an eastern and western route, the Tilpa-Wilcannia section of the Darling River Run passes though some wonderful 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. For a stopover in Wilcannia, be sure to stop by our member Warrawong on the Darling (its in the name)
East Route: MR68A from Tilpa (Unsealed) 145km
West Route: Bourke-Wilcannia Road (Unsealed) <> Barrier Highway 129km
Wilcannia < > Menindee:
The Wilcannia-Menindee section of Darling River Run has a western and eastern route. The western route travels to the north west of Lake Pamamaroo , approximately 1 hour to north of Menindee is our Outback Beds member Nelia Gaari Station. The eastern route passes to the south of Lake Tandure and crosses the Darling into the Menindee at the southern end of the township.
East Route: Wilcannia MR68B <> Menindee Rd (Unsealed) 154km
West Route: SR10 <> Menindee Road (Unsealed) 151 km
Central Darling Members
Central Darling Towns
Menindee to Wentworth (Lower Darling Section)
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 Mungo (Mungo National Park) is a 'must-see' destination with its much-photographed 'Walls of China', dunes, and Lunette landscapes. But it is more than just outback beauty, there is a very unique story to be told about the richness of indigenous culture. For accommodation at Lake mungo, Mungo Lodge is the Outback Beds member.
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 Southern Ocean via Lake Alexandrina.
Menindee < > 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.
East Route: Menindee-Pooncarie Road ( Unsealed) 125km
West Route: (Unsealed) 184km * (includes 45km travel through Kinchega NP to Tandou Road )
- 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 <> Wentworth:
This section of the run can be undertaken via the east of the Darling River (which will enable you to visit Lake Mungo and the Mungo National Park) or the western side which affords more access to the river.
East Route: Wentworth - Pooncarie Rd (Sealed) 120km
West Route: High Darling Road (Unsealed) <>Low Darling Road (Unsealed) <> Silver City Highway 127km
Lower Darling Members