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Bourke, NSW

Darling River Towns

It is not hard to agree with famous Australian poet Henry Lawson when he wrote, "if you know Bourke, you know Australia" (1882). The iconic Darling River town of Bourke is such part of the fabric of outback Australia and is an RV’ers mecca for a truly outback experience.

More than just an outback river town, Bourke is region that, figurative, is demarcation between the outback and the east; anything further inland is known as the 'Back o Bourke' which is a colloquial term deeply etched in Australian vernacular meaning to be a long way away from anything.

On the contrary, and this is probably what Henry Lawson meant, the further inland you go, the closer you get to the true essence of Australia.

Accommodation Partner - Kidman's Camp

kidmans camp bourke

Located about 8Km north of Bourke along the Mitchell Highway and situated on the banks of the mighty Darling River, Kidman’s Camp is not just a stopover on your journey – it is a destination in its own right!

Ranging from practical units with shared amenities, through to our popular unique and stylish fully self-contained luxury chalets, there are 20 cabins on site. Located around the park in a variety of configurations, there is an option to suit every family and individual.

It is not hard to agree with famous Australian poet Henry Lawson when he wrote, "if you know Bourke, you know Australia" (1882). The iconic Darling River town of Bourke is such part of the fabric of outback Australia and is an RV’ers mecca for a truly outback experience.

More than just an outback river town, Bourke is region that, figurative, is demarcation between the outback and the east; anything further inland is known as the 'Back o Bourke' which is a colloquial term deeply etched in Australian vernacular meaning to be a long way away from anything.

On the contrary, and this is probably what Henry Lawson meant, the further inland you go, the closer you get to the true essence of Australia.

The origins of (European) Bourke can be traced back to the 1830's when inland explorer Major Mitchell built a stockade 35km downstream from today's Bourke. The stockade was required as Mitchell's encounter with local indigenous was somewhat hostile (unlike that of fellow explorer Charles Sturt). The stockade was a base for tracking the Darling River.

  • back-o-bourke-centre-27Back o Bourke Centre
  • the-jandra-01-07The Jandra #01
  • rv-camping-at-mt-oxley-bourke-outback-nsw-36RV camping at Mt Oxley Bourke Outback NSW
  • north-bourke-bridge-darling-river-outback-nsw-11North Bourke Bridge Darling River Outback NSW
  • ps-jandra-darling-river-bourke-outback-nsw-22PS Jandra Darling River Bourke Outback NSW
  • darling-river-outback-nsw-10Darling River Outback NSW
  • bourke-weir-darling-river-outback-nsw-21Bourke Weir Darling River Outback NSW
  • nth-bourke-bridge-bourke-outback-nsw-02Nth Bourke Bridge Bourke Outback NSW
  • bourke-wier-04Weir Darling River Run Outback NSW
  • ps-jandra-darling-river-bourke-outback-nsw-42PS Jandra Darling River Bourke Outback NSW
  • ps-jandra-darling-river-bourke-outback-nsw-43PS Jandra Darling River Bourke Outback NSW
  • back-o-bourke-centre-26Back O Bourke Centre
  • bourke-weir-darling-river-outback-nsw-19Bourke Weir Darling River Outback NSW
  • ps-jandra-darling-river-bourke-outback-nsw-23PS Jandra Darling River Bourke Outback NSW
  • poetry-on-a-plate-kidman-camp-bourke-31Poetry on a Plate Kidman Camp Bourke
  • rv-camping-at-mt-oxley-bourke-outback-nsw-38RV camping at Mt Oxley Bourke Outback NSW
  • darling-cloud-03Bourke City Limits Outback NSW
  • ps-jandra-cruise-darling-river-bourke-outback-nsw-48PS Jandra cruise Darling River Bourke Outback NSW
  • mays-bend-camping-darling-river-outback-nsw-45Mays Bend Camping Darling River Outback NSW
  • lawson-said...-14Lawson Said...
  • poetry-on-a-plate-kidman-camp-bourke-29Poetry on a Plate Kidman Camp Bourke
  • rv-camping-at-mt-oxley-bourke-outback-nsw-35RV camping at Mt Oxley Bourke Outback NSW
  • bourke-wharf-darling-river-outback-nsw-2012-15Bourke Wharf Darling River Outback NSW 2012
  • mays-bend-camping-darling-river-outback-nsw-44Mays Bend Camping Darling River Outback NSW
  • fishing-the-darling-river-at-bourke-25Fishing the Darling River at Bourke
  • ps-jandra-darling-river-bourke-outback-nsw-40PS Jandra Darling River Bourke Outback NSW
  • poetry-on-a-plate-kidman-camp-bourke-30Poetry on a Plate Kidman Camp Bourke
  • mays-bend-camping-darling-river-outback-nsw-46Mays Bend Camping Darling River Outback NSW
  • ps-jandra-darling-river-bourke-outback-nsw-39PS Jandra Darling River Bourke Outback NSW
  • bourke-wharf-darling-river-outback-nsw-2012-16Bourke Wharf Darling River Outback NSW 2012
  • bourke-exhibition-centre-18Bourke Exhibition Centre
  • mateship-tours-bourke-outback-nsw-28Mateship Tours Bourke Outback NSW
  • rv-camping-at-mt-oxley-bourke-outback-nsw-37RV camping at Mt Oxley Bourke Outback NSW
  • back-o-bourke-visitor-centre-outback-nsw-13Back o Bourke Visitor Centre Outback NSW
  • bourke-weir-darling-river-outback-nsw-20Bourke Weir Darling River Outback NSW
  • back-o-bourke-visitor-centre-outback-nsw-24Back o Bourke Visitor Centre Outback NSW
  • the-jandra---10-06North Bourke Bridge Darling River Outback NSW
  • rv-camping-at-mt-oxley-bourke-outback-nsw-34RV camping at Mt Oxley Bourke Outback NSW
  • rv-camping-at-mt-oxley-bourke-outback-nsw-33RV camping at Mt Oxley Bourke Outback NSW
  • driving-up-mt-oxley-bourke-outback-nsw-32Driving up Mt Oxley Bourke Outback NSW
  • darling-river-outback-nsw-09Darling River Outback NSW
  • heading-to-mt-oxley-bourke-nsw-12Heading to Mt Oxley Bourke NSW
  • ps-jandra-darling-river-bourke-outback-nsw-41PS Jandra Darling River Bourke Outback NSW
  • mays-bend-camping-darling-river-outback-nsw-17Mays Bend Camping Darling River Outback NSW
  • bourke-city-limits-outback-nsw-01Bourke City Limits Outback NSW
  • ps-jandra-cruise-darling-river-bourke-outback-nsw-47PS Jandra cruise Darling River Bourke Outback NSW
  • north-bourke-bridge-darling-river-outback-nsw-05North Bourke Bridge Darling River Outback NSW
  • bourke-wharf-darling-river-outback-nsw-08Bourke Wharf Darling River Outback NSW


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.

Bourke See & Do:

  • PS Jandra river cruise
  • Mateship guided tour
  • Gundabooka National Park
  • Maritime trail
  • Back O' Bourke Centre

Getting to Bourke

By Car:

  • From Brisbane: 910km
  • From Sydney: 760km
  • From Melbourne: 1,000km
  • From Adelaide: 1,100km

Bourke Information Centre:

Kidman Way Bourke 2840


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