Kinchega woolshed is a beauty.
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Western NSW - Along The Darling
Pooncarie is my favourite town along the Darling River. The area was first settled in the 1840s while the town was officially gazetted in the early 1860s. By that time Pooncarie was acting as an important port for the paddle steamers that had started to ply the river but within 60 years the river trade was dead and the town was dying. Today, less than a hundred souls call this tiny hamlet home but for the traveller the Telegraph Hotel offers succor and hospitality while nearby there is plenty of camping.
Next morning we headed north on what is normally a good dirt road and part of the Darling River Run (see: www.visitoutbacknsw.com/darling-river-run) passing the turn off to historic Tolarno Station. The property, established in 1855, is now run by the progressively thinking Rob and Linda McBride who combine good conservation measures, a low key tourist facility and 10,000 sheep to wrest a living from this often harsh land.
Bridge over darling at Pooncarie.
At historic Menindee, where the infamous Burke and Wills expedition camped for a time back in the 1860s, the Darling River nowadays flows into the man-modified Menindee Lakes.
Burke & Wills slept here some years ago!
Copi Hollow waterfront.
Brimming with water the lakes are alive with birdlife and offer plenty of opportunity for camping and recreation. The well worn playgrounds of Copi Hollow, frequented by Broken Hillites, is now once more throbbing to the sounds of kids playing and speedboats carving wakes across the lake surface.
For a quieter interlude we headed for the nearby Kinchega National Park. Covering an area of 44,000ha the park includes a number of lakes and offers some 35 campsites along the Darling River as well as at the old woolshed and on the edge of Cawndilla Lake.
Kinchega woolshed is a beauty and the old steam engine at shearing shed.
Aboriginal people lived here for millennia and there are many signs of their occupation from midden heaps to scarred trees scattered throughout the area.
Taken up as a pastoral lease in the 1850s, in its heyday the Kinchega property extended all the way to Broken Hill. The historic shearing shed shore its last sheep in 1967 when the six millionth sheep went down the chute and the area became a national park.
Emus strutting their stuff.
Our travels were near over as we swung the Patrol’s nose northwest towards Broken Hill. Other travellers could continue their adventures north along the Darling River Run, or turn east towards Ivanhoe and Hay, but they will find this shortcut an enjoyable interlude whatever their travels!
Permits & Access
No permits are required to travel this route. Ensure you carry enough water, food and fuel whenever and wherever you go.
The closest supply points along this route are Renmark, Wentworth, Menindee and Pooncarie, the latter being pretty limited.
Camping & Accommodation
Pooncarrie’s Telegraph Hotel (ph: (03) 5029 5205) offers accommodation, meals and a cold beer. There’s camping nearby.
Tolarno Station, 50km south of Menindee, offers camping and accommodation, ph: (08) 8091 7403, web: www.tolarnostation.com.au.
At Menindee there’s the historic Maiden’s Hotel which offers cold beer, meals and accommodation, ph: (08) 8091 4208.
Access and Camping permits are required in Kinchega NP. There’s camping sites in the park and accommodation available in the old Kinchega shearers quarters, ph: (08) 8080 3200; or www.environment.nsw.gov.au and follow the links to the park.
Information, maps & guides
The best map is Hema’s, Outback NSW.