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Originally known as Prattenville, Bourke later renamed in honour of then Governor of the Colony, Richard Bourke, and soon become an integral part of the inland transport system.
Early pastoralists started to open up the interior of Australia as they saw the potential with cattle and sheep and this potential increased William Randell was the first person to take a paddle-steamer (The Gemini) up the Darling as far as Brewarrina in 1859. The stage was set as there was a means to get the Australian Wool clip to the shipping ports at Adelaide (down the Murray) and Melbourne (up the Murray to Echuca).
By the 1890's, Bourke was a major port for the transport of the southern Queensland and northern NSW wool clip that was transported down the Darling to the Murray River and onto Adelaide for ship transport overseas.
The Port of Bourke was the focus of the worlds wool industry with up to 80 riverboats servicing the region.
The opening of the rail system in Australia and the unreliability of the river flow saw the gradual demise of the 'River Highway' by the early 20th century.
This was not the death knell for Bourke though and today it is a town that still, in essence, is the same it was back then; a town on the edge of the wilderness with great historical, cultural and geographic significance.
Located where the Kidman Way meets the Darling River, Bourke is the ideal access point for The Darling River Run.