Bourke has a rich heritage, immortalised in both poetry and song.
The renowned Henry Lawson lived for some years here, and his
experiences moved him to state that ‘if you know Bourke, you know
Come and see for yourself what it is that appealed to so many of Australia’s
great poets, and what it is that continue to bring visitors from all over the
world to the ‘Back o’ Bourke’.
• BOURKE NSW 2840
• Ph: 02 6872 1321
• Opens Mon - Fri / 9 am - 4 pm
• At the Back O'Bourke Exhibition
Centre you will experience a journey through life in the back country of New
South Wales. Here you will rediscover the stories of Australia, taking you from
the rich cultural history of the past through to the now and the Australian
Outback future. The centre tells the history of Bourke for the past 400 years,
engaging the viewer with a series of interactive installations and visual screen
displays. Uncover the stories of our early explorations, the local bushrangers,
the grazing industry, the legends, the conflicts and our poets.
• The cemetery contains many graves of historical interest, with the
most famous being that of Fred Hollows. Also buried in the cemetery is
Senior Constable McCabe, who was shot by Starlight, bush poet Francis
Brown, and many
other local characters. There are also a number of graves of Afghan
camel drivers. These are easy to identify because, unlike the Christian
graves, they are all pointing towards Mecca. More information on the
Bourke Cemetery can be found on the Bourke Shire Council website.
|Bourke Lock and Weir
• Darling River Near Bourke,
BOURKE NSW 2840 - Opened in 1897, the Bourke Weir was the first to be built on the Darling River
to ensure the water supply for the town. The lock,
that allowed the paddleboats to bypass the weir, was the first in Australia
and the only one ever built along the Darling River. At nearly 60 metres long
and 11 metres wide, the lock was designed and built to control the level of
water in the river near the town. In 1941, it was concreted and converted into
The Bourke Lock and Weir - by Mr. A. E. Amphlett, B.E., Assoc. M. Inst.,
(A Paper read before the Sydney University Engineering Society on December
The Government of this Colony, recognising the extent to which the settlers
and townspeople on the Darling are dependent upon an open river, have a
snagging steamer at work at the present time. There is no doubt that, with a
locked and permanently navigable river, a great impetus and development
would take place in the western portions of the Colony.
The University of
Sydney - Sydney Escholarship
There is a fishing reserve covering the area downstream of the lock, including
a public camping and barbecue area, with toilets. There are quite a few good
fishing spots, further information and a map is available from the Visitors Centre.
Cobb & Co Heritage Trail - Bourke Trail
• Bourke - it often seems to me,
that the further you travel away from the cities, the closer you get to the
past. To be drawn where the poets Henry Lawson and Breaker Morant were drawn -
to the back of Bourke. Many of the roads have seen little change in 150 years;
the vegetation and wildlife is often ‘as they would have seen it’. You will be
reminded of the difficulties of the early explorers and of the Cobb & Co.
coaching days when a trip from Bathurst to Bourke took three weeks and not six
The Bathurst to Bourke Heritage Trail recalls the exciting times of Cobb & Co
back in the 19th Century, before the telephone or the internet, when the Royal
Mail Coach was the main link that settlers had with distant towns. Innovative
and adaptable, the company was at the forefront of inland expansion and played a
vital role in developing transport as well as social and communications networks
across eastern Australia.
Today’s traveller can follow the award winning Cobb & Co Heritage Trail along
highways and byways between Bathurst and Bourke and witness the relics of these
long gone coaching days – many recognizable, some mere shadows of their former
selves. Take the time to explore these fascinating areas, learn about
Australia’s past and enjoy the journey making some exciting discoveries from the
present along the way. You will only be limited by your imagination as you
investigate the treasures of the Cobb & Co Heritage Trail.
Visit the Cobb & Co
Heritage Trail website for more information, interactive
maps, and where you can also choose from town trails and area trails. The
website also has a collection of fantastic historical photos, as well as photos
of coach building and restoration.
| Fred Hollows Memorial
Cemetery, BOURKE NSW 2840 - it was here in Bourke that Australian of the year
(1992), Professor Fred Hollows was laid to rest on February 17th 1993. Fred is best remembered for his very public work in Eritrea, he began his work with the Cataract Blindness among the Aborigines
of the Bourke area. Today, many people can now see because of Fred
|Fort Bourke Stockade
Rd, BOURKE NSW 2840
• This re-creation of the Old Fort on the original
site was first established in 1835 by Major Mitchell as a Fort-Cum-Depot,
and named after the Governor of the colony, Sir Richard Bourke. Eventually the district and later the town came to be known by
the name of Bourke. The area is bordered by the Darling River (north
side) and a man-made lake and wildlife refuge (southeast to
Gundabooka National Park
• Located midway between Bourke and Cobar, on the Kidman Way. The highest
peak of the range is 500 m at Mount Gundabooka. With beautiful bushland,
the area has a number of Aboriginal art of great significance, including
paintings which can only be found in this part of Australia. The park
also has a great variety of flora and
• There are many buildings of historic interest including:
- Carriers Arms Hotel (1879), frequented by Henry Lawson and
mentioned in his poems. It was also a stop on the Cobb & Co coach
- Central Australian (late 1930's)
- Courthouse (1899)
- Lands Department Building (1898)
- The London Bank (1888)
- Port of Bourke, formerly The Royal (ca. 1870)
- Post Office (1880)
- Telegraph Hotel (1875)
- The Western Herald (originally the Methodist Church), is
considered to be the oldest standing building in Bourke.
• During spring, 47 km north of Bourke on the Mitchell
Highway, along the Kidman Way and 32km to the east, is an area of
unique native wildflowers, that appear particularly after good winter
• Located 50 km from Bourke on the road to Brewarrina. On top of the
mountain you will find craters. It is not known what caused these, but
early settlers and explorers, including Mitchell and Wills, reported
hearing explosive sounds coming from the area of the mountain. From the
top of mountain you will get an excellent view of the area. Wedge-tailed
eagles can be seen from the top. Take drinking water, as there is a
20-30 minute steep walk to the top. You will need to obtain a key and
permit from the Tourist Information Centre.
|Mud Map Tours
• A brochure ‘Mud Map Tours’ is freely available offering a number of
suggested tours around the area. There are seven mud maps in the
brochure with trips around the town which include fishing, wildflowers
and a trip out through the cotton growing areas.
North Bourke Bridge
• The North Bourke bridge is the bridge between the town of
Bourke and its closest ‘suburb’, North Bourke. Built over a hundred
years ago, this lift-up bridge was designed to allow paddle-steamers to
With the opening of the adjacent Darling River Gateway Bridge, the North Bourke
lift-up bridge is now closed to traffic, although it is still in
use as a footbridge.
See our article and images of
North Bourke Bridge.
There is said to be 23 movable bridges built on the Murray-Darling river system,
with very few remaining today. Other surviving pre 1915 lift bridges over the inland rivers include
those on the Darling River at
Wilcannia, NSW (1896), over the Murray River at
Tocumwal, VIC (1895), Swan Hill, VIC (1896), Cobram, VIC (1902) and Barham, VIC
Bourke Shire Council
Mitchell St (PO Box 21), BOURKE NSW 2840
• Ph: +61 2 6872 2055 •
Fax: +61 2 6872 3030 •
• Check out the website for accommodation and attractions within the
Bourke Public Library
• 29 Mitchell St, BOURKE NSW 2840 •
Ph/Fax: 02 6872 2751 •
• With info on Bourke including
accommodation and attractions.
Regional Tourism Organisation
• OROTO is a not-for-profit
organisation keyed with the responsibility of working with key tourism industry
players in the region and promoting Outback NSW to potential tourists for the
economic benefit of the area.
• 29 Mitchell St, BOURKE NSW 2840 •
Ph: 02 6872 2751 •
• Includes attractions, tours and
other tourism information on Bourke.