The Darling River Run is a thin, winding line describing a travel route through the NSW outback, characterized by landscape, history, culture, literature and adventure.
Taken as a whole, or in its various component parts The Darling River Run route provides an opportunity to see the real Australian bush in Darling River Towns and experience some safe and easy off-road driving, connect with Aboriginal culture at iconic locations, and drench yourself in the history, and contemporary life of a part of the country that is central to the national psyche.
The ‘Darling River Run’ in its entirety is book-ended by the townships of Brewarrina in the North, and Wentworth in the South, where the Darling ultimately yields and converges, inexorably, with the might Murray River. The headwaters of what is known as the ‘Barwon-Darling’ system emerge from Condamine-Balonne and Warrego Catchments in Queensland, as far North as Augathella on the Western side of the ranges.
Crossing the border in a spread of ‘distributary’ streams, the tenuous connection is made through the Culgoa River, which wanders down, a deep trench in a vast floodplain, to connect with Barwon River roughly halfway between Brewarrina and Bourke. This confluence is where the ‘Darling’ begins, with the Warrego joining the stream below Bourke, and the most remote catchment in the system, the Paroo, connecting (infrequently) just upstream of Wilcannia.
“The River Red Gums touching closely to the roadside at points, and at other times the river that is the Barwon, wanders off to the West, leaving wide floodplains of scattered Box Trees and Coolabahs.”
Departing from Brewarrina and travelling along the Eastern side of the river, the bitumen road is accompanied by the meandering stream, The River Red Gums touching closely to the roadside at points, and at other times the river that is the Barwon, wanders off to the West, leaving wide floodplains of scattered Box Trees and Coolabahs.
Along the road there is a single bridge crossing the Bogan River (commonly known as the ‘Dry Bogan’). At this point, the ‘Barwon’ lies just a kilometre away to the West. The Bogan, making a bee-line towards a confluence, changes its mind as it nears the Barwon, and both streams bend back on themselves so that they only touch in the briefest kiss – probably expecting to met up again later, the two streams run in parallel, sharing a floodplain, and ultimately converging just North of ‘Mays Bend’ near Bourke.
But it is not the Barwon that the Bogan River meets again, for at almost the same location as their brief encounter, on the other side of the stream, the Culgoa River also converges and, claiming the union as its own, declares the ‘Darling River’ born.
Begin the Darling River Run adventure
And so, the adventure begins at a nondescript, entirely unremarkable bridge on the highway between Brewarrina and Bourke. The Darling River, characteristically secretive, quietly begins just out of sight, hidden in the spread of overhanging limbs and sprawling River Red Gums, and with it begins the Darling River Run.