About The Darling
The Darling River
The Darling River meanders through NSW from its origins in Queensland's Darling Downs - via the Warrego and Culgoa Rivers - and from the northern NSW tributaries of Barwon, Gwydir, Namoi, Castlereagh and Bogan rivers down through the heart of outback NSW to its meeting with the Murray River at Wentworth. Part of the Murray Darling Basin, which covers 1,061,469 square kilometres (14% of the total area of Australia), the Darling River is Australia's longest river flowing 2,739 km.
The river has always been an integral part of Aboriginal culture and was named the Darling after 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.
The Darling River flows south-west though outback NSW through the Menindee Lakes on towards the confluence with the Murray River at Wentworth on the NSW/Victoria border. From there the Murray continues to flow through South Australia onto Lake Alexandrina and into the Southern Ocean.
Long before European settlement and their search to find the 'inland sea' of Australia, the region was home the first Australians and indigenous culture in the area is said to go back over 45,000+ years with more than an estimated 15 Aboriginal language groups in the region..
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The area is steeped in Aboriginal culture; from the fish traps at Brewarrina, the vast array of historical and sacred sites, through to the world's oldest ritual burial ground at Lake Mungo (Mungo National Park). For centuries the river had been home, fishing and hunting ground and trade route to the Aboriginal tribes.
The relative newcomers to the area, the Europeans, believed 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 when the climate was vastly different during the Cretaceous period.
Today we can travel in the comfort of modern motor vehicles, but spare a thought for those 'strangers' to land who explored the Far West. It is no surprise that Sturt, Mitchell, Dowling Burke and Wills are synonymous with the modern history of the region.
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. In 1859 a riverboat called Gemini skippered by William Randell reached Brewarrina (formerly know as 'Walcha Hut' and earlier as 'Fishery') and with this first successful navigation of the Darling the potential for it to become a major transport route was realised.
By the 1890's, the river ports of Bourke, Wilcannia and Wentworth were established and they serviced the 1+ million hectares wool empires that were enabled by the Darling River opening up the region.