Touring Routes

The Darling River Run

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Route Details:

  • Distance: 1,000km - Mostly Sealed Roads
  • Allow: Min 7 Days (6 Nights)


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, is 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 touring route, 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 route to continue along the course of the river.

The river starts near Walgett, but the route 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 touring route 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 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 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 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 touring route 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 along the Darlingn 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


Outback Beds Members & Towns - Upper Darling

  • "The yokels laughed at his hopes o'erthrown, And he stood awhile like a man in a dream; Then out of his pocket he fetched a stone, And pelted it over the silent stream -- He had been there before: he had wandered down, On a previous visit to Walgett town". Banjo Patterson (Been There Before)

  • "A place that loved a drink, a party and a punt.." So wrote Henry Lawson about Louth. Not a lot has changed for Louth in that respect. They have a reputation for staging a great party - an annual race meeting each August, that keeps the crowds coming back year after year. Racegoers just love the s...

  • “Though you've roamed the whole world over, seen most all there is to see, there are scenes you've never dreamed of, in the stone of mystery.” Laurie Hudson, Cumborah Postmaster 1947-1965 There are many ‘must see’ destinations in Australia and Lightning Ridge is certainly that; home of the beautif...

  • Rising from a perfectly flat landscape, Mt Oxley has outstanding 360 degree views, and showcases the abundance of wildlife, including Wedge-Tailed Eagles and Euros (Macropus Robustus), who inhabit the outcrop of the mountain. Photographers, birdwatchers and bushwalkers – the experience will be unm...

  • 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. Andrew and Jo met in Lightning Ridge after both...

Louth to Menindee (Central Darling Section)

The Louth to Menindee Lake section 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 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 the 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

Outback Beds Members & Towns - Central Darling

  • "A place that loved a drink, a party and a punt.." So wrote Henry Lawson about Louth. Not a lot has changed for Louth in that respect. They have a reputation for staging a great party - an annual race meeting each August, that keeps the crowds coming back year after year. Racegoers just love the s...

  • 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. Liz and Gary have raised their four children at Trilby, are passionate about their outback wa...

  • 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.

Menindee to Wentworth (Lower Darling Section)

Starting the run or finishing the run, the Lower Darling section of the touring route 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 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


Outback Beds Members & Towns - Lower Darling

  • 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. Here you will find the very best of genuine Australian country hospitality. Your hosts, Barb, ...

  • 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. Lake Mungo,...

  • "There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup...." so penned Banjo Paterson in the immortal poem 'The Man from Snowy River'. The 'Cup' actually refers to the Presidents Cup at Menindee and not the Melbourne Cup as many people have assumed. Menindee is a town steeped in legend and ...