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The river has always been an integral part of the Indigenous culture, a culture that can be traced back at least 45,000 years and today the river remains the lifeblood for their living culture. To the indigenous, the river had various names according to the local communities along the river but the European name was assigned it was 'discovered' by explorer Charles Sturt in 1829 who named it in honour of Sir Ralph Darling, the then Governor of New South Wales.

Darling River Facts:

The Darling River is primarily fed from the subtropical summer rains of South East Queensland, as opposed to the Murray River which is sourced from the NSW/Vic high country's snow melt, and as such is more of a 'boom/bust' with regards to its flow. Many think it is a river of extremes, either in flood or in drought; that is a nature and majesty of this great river.



At Wentworth on the NSW/Victoria border, the Darling River joins the Murray River and as one, flow through South Australia's Riverland region onto Lake Alexandrina and into the Southern Ocean.

The area is steeped in Aboriginal culture from the fish traps at Brewarrina, a vast array of historical and sacred sites, through to the world's oldest ritual burial ground at Lake Mungo. For centuries the river had been home, fishing and hunting ground and trade route to the Aboriginal groups.

The relative newcomers to the area, European explorers set out to find the fabled 'inland sea', believing that the rivers of eastern Australian all ran into a vast inland sea. Early explorers were correct in thinking there was an inland sea but they were about 50 million years too late as the climate was vastly different during the Cretaceous period when in fact the centre of Australia was a vast inland sea.

Today we can travel in the comfort of modern motor vehicles, but spare a thought for those 'strangers' to land who explored the interior. People like Sturt, Mitchell, Dowling Burke and Wills are as synonymous with the modern history of the region as are many of their ill-fated and planned expeditions.

The 'Wild West' was a frontier for European settlement in the 19th century and cattlemen began to carve out vast stations and forged stock routes to the major commercial centres of Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne. But the challenge faced by the pastoral pioneers was how to access these commercial centres via road transport which at the time was not well established. Many realised, and hoped, the river transport could further open up the outback and provide a vital link from the farm gate to the shipping ports of Adelaide and Melbourne that would provide transport to England.

The dream began to become a reality when in 1859 a riverboat called Gemini skippered by William Randell reached Brewarrina (formerly known as 'Walcha Hut' and earlier as 'Fishery') and with this first successful navigation of the Darling there was the potential for it to become a major transport route.

  • Bourke Weir Darling River Outback NSW-39Bourke Weir Darling River Outback NSW
  • Darling River Drought Trilby Station Outback NSW-30Darling River Drought Trilby Station Outback NSW
  • Bindara Station Darling River Menindee-45Bindara Station Darling River Menindee
  • Darling River Louth Outback NSW-15Darling River Louth Outback NSW
  • Darling River High Flow 2008 Trilby Station-10Darling River High Flow 2008 Trilby Station
  • Bourke Weir Darling River Outback NSW-38Bourke Weir Darling River Outback NSW
  • End of a Darling Day River Trilby Station-11End of a Darling Day River Trilby Station
  • Darling River Kinchega NP-26Darling River Kinchega NP
  • Darling River High Flow 2008 Trilby Station-09Darling River High Flow 2008 Trilby Station
  • Bourke Weir Darling River Outback NSW-40Bourke Weir Darling River Outback NSW
  • PS Jandra Darling River Bourke Outback NSW-28PS Jandra Darling River Bourke Outback NSW
  • Darling River High Flow 2008 Trilby Station-04Darling River High Flow 2008 Trilby Station
  • Darling River Redgums Tilpa Outback NSW-17Darling River Redgums Tilpa Outback NSW
  • Darling River Nelia Gaari Station Menindee Outback NSW-43Darling River Nelia Gaari Station Menindee Outback NSW
  • Bourke Wier Bourke Outback NSW-03Darling River Weir Bourke Outback NSW
  • Wilcannia Lift Bridge Darling River Outback NSW-18Wilcannia Lift Bridge Darling River Outback NSW
  • Mays Bend Camping Darling River Outback NSW-41Mays Bend Camping Darling River Outback NSW
  • Darling River Kinchega NP-33Darling River Kinchega NP
  • Pooncarie Weir Darling River Outback NSW-20Pooncarie Weir Darling River Outback NSW
  • Darling River Poocarie Outback NSW-36Darling River Poocarie Outback NSW
  • Darling River Kinchega NP Outback NSW-22Darling River Kinchega NP Outback NSW
  • Darling River High Flow 2008 Trilby Station-07Darling River High Flow 2008 Trilby Station
  • The Darling River Kinchega NP Outback NSW-34The Darling River Kinchega NP Outback NSW
  • Darling River Nelia Gaari Station Menindee Outback NSW-42Darling River Nelia Gaari Station Menindee Outback NSW
  • Darling River Kinchega NP Outback NSW-23Darling River Kinchega NP Outback NSW
  • Darling River Kinchega NP-25Darling River Kinchega NP
  • Darling River Kinchega National Park-21Darling River Kinchega NP
  • Darling River Scenic Cruise-27Darling River Scenic Cruise
  • Darling River Canoe Kinchega National Park-32Darling River Canoe Kinchega National Park
  • Darling River Kinchega National Park-24Darling River Kinchega National Park
  • Darling River High Flow 2008 Trilby Station-05Darling River High Flow 2008 Trilby Station
  • Darling River Old Pump Trilby Station Outback NSW-29Darling River Old Pump Trilby Station Outback NSW
  • Darling River Nelia Gaari Station Menindee Outback NSW-44Darling River Nelia Gaari Station Menindee Outback NSW
  • The Darling River Tilpa Outback NSW-12The Darling River Tilpa Outback NSW
  • Darling River High Flow 2008 Trilby Station-08Darling River High Flow 2008 Trilby Station
  • Darling River Louth Outback NSW-14Darling River Louth Outback NSW
  • Darling River Redgums Tilpa Outback NSW-13Darling River Redgums Tilpa Outback NSW
  • Darling River High Flow 2008 Trilby Station-06Darling River High Flow 2008 Trilby Station
  • Darling River Camping Trilby Station Outback NSW-37Darling River Camping Trilby Station Outback NSW
  • Pooncarie Weir Darling River Outback NSW-35Pooncarie Weir Darling River Outback NSW
  • Darling River Kinchega National Park-31Darling River Kinchega National Park
  • The Darling River between Menindee and Pooncarie 2015-01The Darling River between Menindee and Pooncarie 2015
  • Darling River Louth Outback NSW-16Darling River Louth Outback NSW
  • Darling River Pooncarie Old Wharf Site-02Darling River Pooncarie Old Wharf Site
  • Darling River Redgums Pooncarie Outback NSW-19Darling River Redgums Pooncarie Outback NSW

By the 1890's, the river ports of Bourke, Wilcannia and Wentworth were busy servicing the 1+ million hectares wool empires of Outback NSW and southern Queensland. By the late 1880's Wentworth was Australia's busiest inland port. In 1895, 485 vessels were recorded as passing through the Customs House (31 in one week alone).

But the days of the river being the major form of inland transport were full of challenges from the boom/bust nature of the river and it was realised that flow of the river limited reliability. By the turn of early 1900's a new and more reliable form of transport, railways, was spreading inland. The days of the river boats and ports were numbered.

Today, the Darling River is still an integral part of the outback, indigenous culture and pioneering history. Attempts are being made to better manage this wonderful resource so it is available for not only the farmers and indigenous cultures who rely on it but also those who enjoy it recreationally.