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Darling River Region

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Darling River Region
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Darling River Region - Cities, Towns and Localities
Upper Darling - Cobar - Bogan
Lightning Ridge

Central Darling - Broken Hill
Broken Hill
White Cliffs

Lower Darling - Murrumbidgee

Corner Country
Cameron Corner

Other towns, villages and localities in the Murray River region include:
• Brewarrina • Cobar • Hay • Hillston • Nyngan • Pooncarie • Walgett

Longest continuous river system

The River Murray and its tributary, the Darling River, are the main rivers in the Murray-Darling River Basin. This drainage basin comprises the major part of the interior lowlands of Australia, covering more than one million square kilometres, or about 14 per cent of Australia.

The Murray-Darling catchment also contains Australia’s longest continuous river system. Australia’s longest single river is the River Murray at 2,375 kilometres. However, if the longest tributaries of the Darling River, the Culgoa, Balonne and Condamine, are taken into account its total length increases to 2,844 kilometres, making it Australia’s longest waterway.

The Darling River flows south from the junction of the Culgoa and Barwon Rivers. Although the Culgoa is longer than the Barwon, the source of the Darling is generally agreed to be the Barwon River, as it has the greater volume of water. The headwaters of the Darling can be traced to the MacIntyre River, which starts in the Great Dividing Range, and forms part of the border between NSW and Queensland. It eventually flows south into the Barwon. The Barwon-MacIntyre section is sometimes referred to as the Upper Darling. When measured from its source in Queensland to its mouth on the coast south-east of Adelaide, the Murray-Darling river system is 3,370 kilometres long.

Source: Geoscience Australia: Longest Rivers1

The Darling River, Australia's longest, runs through Outback NSW, forming part of the Murray-Darling basin. The Darling River system is fed primarily from the summer rains of southern Queensland and makes its journey south-west across the state to Wentworth where it joins the mighty Murray River. The two rivers continue their journey (as the Murray River) to Lake Alexandrina and into the Great Australian Bight.

It was in 1828 that the explorer Charles Sturt, accompanied by Hamilton Hume passed through the district, sent by the Governor of New South Wales, to investigate the course of the Macquarie River. During his travel his thoughts at the time was that the area was ‘unlikely to become the haunt of civilised man’. He was to discover the Bogan River, and then in 1829, Sturt reached the upper Darling about 30 km north of the present town site of Bourke, then continue following the river downstream for about 100 km. He named the river after the Governor of NSW, Sir Ralph Darling. Sturt referred to the Darling as that ‘noble river’ but was to stop travelling down it as the river was saline and very low, having arrived in the area during a period of drought. On his return to Sydney he had less then glowing reports of the area.

Today, the Darling, recognised as our longest river, is celebrated in writing, song and movies. History is stamped along the length of the river, in the towns, villages and ports. It provides the focal point for many travellers and modern day explorers.

Indigenous People
The original inhabitants of NSW have lived here for at least 45,000 years, among which there are more than 38 Aboriginal language groups, some of which overlapped with each other. Many of those groups lived along the water ways that made up the Darling River Basin, although today most live in the towns within the region, still connected to the same areas as their ancestors. The Barwon, Lachlan, Paroo, Warrego, Murray and Darling Rivers as well as a way of sustaining life is woven into the fabric of their culture.2

The largest of the Indigenous groups is the Barkindji people, who were predominant around the lower Darling, although their region stretched from Wentworth in the Riverina area, into the Darling Riverine Plains stretching beyond Wilcannia. Whilst the homelands of the Barkindji were known to extend into Queensland via the Paroo due to the friendly relations they had with the Parundji people of the Darling Riverine Plains. The home of the Parundji was the banks of the Paroo River, although unlike the Murray and Darling River groups, they did not use the rivers for transport in bark canoes.

The Barkindji people called the river ‘Barka’ meaning ‘river’, Barkindji meaning Darling folk. The Paarkantji people who also lived along the whole length of the Darling River, called the river ‘Paaka’. ‘Paarkantji’ literally means ‘River People’. The homelands of the Paakantji extended from what is now Wentworth area, northward through the Murray Darling Depression and into the Darling Riverine Plains region beyond Wilcannia to Bourke.3

For more information about the indigenous people of the region, review some of our source reference below.

Check out our listing for Darling River accommodation. In addition to our listed online travel guide information, contact the local tourism visitor centre for your destination for more attractions, tours, local maps and other information.

Information Centre

Balranald Visitor Information Centre

Bourke Tourist Information Centre

Broken Hill Visitor Information Centre

Lightning Ridge Visitor Information Centre


The historic North Bourke Bridge
The historic North Bourke Bridge
- the bridge served as the gateway to inland NSW until the by-pass was opened in 1997.
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Darling River Region Attractions

Including it’s longest tributaries the Culgoa, Balonne and Condamine, together the Darling River is Australia’s longest waterway. Flowing through the outback region of NSW, it is the backbone of this region that also nourishes the unique flora and fauna to be found in the area.

This vast outback region can be divided into the following areas:
The Darling River Run
• The ‘Run’ starts at Walgett and follows the course of the Darling River through Brewarrina, Bourke, Louth, Tilpa, Wilcannia, Menindee, Pooncarie and to the confluence with the Mighty Murray River.

The Darling River Run is not simply point A to point B, but a river that forms the spine of the journey, showing that there are a vast amount of options for the traveller in the surrounding area. Unique towns Lightning Ridge and White Cliffs, wonderful National Parks Gundabooka, Mutawintji, Kinchega, and Mungo, and not forgetting the jewel of Western NSW, Broken Hill.
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Darling River Region Other Links

• Darling River Region Community/Local Government Links
• Darling River Region Community Links

1 Australian Government Geoscience Australia: Longest Rivers.
2 NSW Environment, Climate Change & Water: NSW - Aboriginal occupation. Retrieved January 19, 2011, from
3 National Indigenous Land and Sea Management Conference. Retrieved January 19, 2011, from
4 Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies: Aboriginal Australia Map. Retrieved January 19, 2011 from
5 South Australian Museum: Tribal Boundaries in Aboriginal Australia. Retrieved January 19, 2011 from
6 Wikipedia: List of Indigenous Australian Group Names. Retrieved January 19, 2011 from
7 Outback NSW: A Brief overview of indigenous history. Retrieved January 19, 2011 from
The mighty Darling River (at Bourke) - in full flow after heavy rain.
The mighty Darling River (at Bourke) - in full flow after heavy rain.
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