14 days
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The Darling river run small group tour

A 14 day small group tour that begins and ends in Sydney. For mature and senior travellers this small group tour travels along the Darling, through amazing landscape setting that have shaped the country of New South Wales including the Mallee forests in Malle country, we visit Aboriginal sites of importance, stay at station homesteads, and regional historic hotels, meeting the people, encountering the wildlife of the Murray Darling Basin and learning of the riverboat history of the rivers. This is definitely an experience to be remembered as part of our collection of escorted Outback tours of Australia.

The Darling is referred typically as part of The Murray-Darling Basin traversing much of outback NSW. This basin is unique and contains much of importance in Australia's Aboriginal and European heritage, from the earliest days of Aboriginal life, to the European exploration and then on to the present day. It could be considered to be part of the essence of Australia - the cultural and historical heritage of the people, the riverboat trade, station life and the life of the towns is revealed in so many places via the river system. Odyssey traveller has developed its collections of Australian tours around History, culture and landscape, here close to Sydney over 2 weeks for the traveller either as a couple or solo traveller so much is revealed via the Darling river.

The Darling river

The Darling River meanders through New South Wales from its origins in Queenslands' Darling Downs till it meets the mighty Murray River at Wentworth. It is a significant landmark in Outback Australia. Much of the pioneering history of the region has centred on the river, and it remains vital for agriculture, horticulture and town life and before that for the Aboriginal people and the river is deep in Aboriginal history and evidence of Aboriginal settlement including trade. Joining a small group tour following the Darling river will take you through the traditional lands of the Ngemba and Barkindji Aboriginal people, to who the river is an integral part of their lives and lifestyle. 

The Darling river and the associated river plains in the 19th century was the 'Wild West' frontier' for Colonial settlement. By mid-century cattlemen had claimed stations and forged stock routes to Adelaide and Melbourne. The successful navigation from the Murray to Brewarrina by riverboat in 1859 signaled that the river had also became a highway. Wool empires around the Darling river grew quickly some were 2-3 million acres, shearing millions of sheep. By the end of the century river ports at Bourke, Wilcannia and Wentworth were shipping world record amounts of wool to Europe. In the 20th century, this has changed, some land is marginalised through overstocking and land degradation, the industrial age removed vast amounts of labour from the agricultural region with its impact on towns and settlements. And rail and then road transport carried the wool bales away from the river. The greatest threat today to the river is irrigation draw downs.

This small group tour follows the Darling joining on day 3 at Brewarrina fish traps and follows through to Wentworth where the Darling reaches the Murray river, we turn here and return to Sydney over a couple of days.
"Darling River, longest member of the Murray-Darling river system in Australia; the river is formed by a collection of streams in the Great Dividing Range (Eastern Highlands), near the New South Wales-Queensland border, not far from the east coast, and flows generally southwest across New South Wales for 2,739 km (1,702 mi) to join the Murray at Wentworth (on the Victoria border), 240km from the Murray's mouth in South Australia.
The main source of the Darling is usually considered to be the Severn, which becomes successively the Dumaresq, Macintyre, Barwon, and, finally, the Darling. Discharge of the lower tributaries (Culgoa, Warrego, Paroo, Gwydir, Namoi, Macquarie, and Bogan) of the main stream fluctuates as a result of droughts and floods. The Darling's course is through extensive saltbush pastures, receiving an average of less than 250 mm (10 in) of rain annually, the river often loses more water by evaporation than is gained from its tributaries, many of which sometimes fail to reach the main stream. The entire Darling system drains a 650,000-sq-km (250,000-sq-mi) basin with an average annual discharge of 102 cu m (3,600 cu ft) per second at Menindee. The river has an average gradient of 16mm to the kilometre.
This small group tour follows the river and the history of the people who have used the river and the parts of the river for there livelihood beyond the pastoralists of the 19th century.

WHAT TO BRING: Casual clothes, a jacket, comfortable walking shoes or boots, water bottle and back pack, a hat, sunscreen and insect repellent are advisable. Please use a small suitcase or bag and a day bag can accompany you in the vehicle - don't forget your camera!

Tour Notes
  • We are SATELLITE PHONE equipped for 100% mobile phone coverage.
  • Field guides covering Birds, Wildflowers, Trees, Mammals and Pals/Ferns are carried in the coach.

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Overview: From Sydney we travel north following the Peats Ridge Road through Kulnurra to Mogo Creek campground for morning tea and a short walk to some rockshelter art sites.

This Darkinjung country and this site is part of a link with our next stop in Yengo National Park. The views from Finchley Trig Point (and petroglyph site) look out over Mt Yengo and went west toward Rylstone and south to Mt Tomah. Mt Yengo is an extremely important site where Baiame – the Creater God or Sky Father – came to earth, and it’s significance is reflected in the number of art sites in this area, and the extent of this sites influence – Wiradjuri, Darkinjung, Wonnaurua, Awabakal, Worimi, Biripi and Kamilaroi language groups all being influenced by this area. Our last visit today is to a cave near Milbrodale which contains a painted figure possibly representing Baiame.

Accommodation: Grapevine Motel Denman

Overview: The Hunter/Goulburn River Valley provided a trading/access route from the western side of the Great Dividing Range to the coast (and Mt Yengo site area).

Today we follow this route through Kerrabee and Wollar to the upper reaches of the Goulburn River and some sites near Ulan. A stop at Gulgon for morning tea before travelling through Dunedoo and Merrygoen following the Castlereagh River to the Warrumbungles and our overnight stop at Coonabarabran.

Accommodation: Matthew Flinders Motor Inn

Overview: Today we are joined by an Aboriginal Discovery Ranger. This small group tour visits sites at the sandstone caves and the Dandry Gorge Aboriginal area.

These were important sites for the Gamilaroi people in the Pilliga Forest area. Our route will then take us through Baradine – A visit to the new Forest Discovery Centre and on to Coonamble, another link in the river trading routes of the western area of New South Wales.

Accommodation: Cypress Motel

Overview: Coonable’s location on the Castlereagh River and proximity to the Maquarie Marshes and Warrumbungle National Park makes it a natural link in our tour and as a trading from one area to another.

Time to explore some historical aspects of the town before following the “Wailwan” Sotry through Quambone to the Macquarie Marshes and Willies Retreat. From the Macquarie Marshes we travel across black soil, saltbush country to the important Aboriginal area surrounding Brewarrina. Links exist between this area and Mt Yengo area – in the past and the present – and the rejuvenated cultural museum should provide us with some insights to past connections, including the important fish traps and the ‘mission’ which was such a controversial part of Brewarrina’s history.

Our next two nights are at Bourke, one hour to the west of Brewarrina.

Accommodation: Riverside Motel

Overview: Bourke has a fascinating history and is well worth exploring. The Outback Exhibition visitor centre provides a great introduction, but the town has some great buildings from it history including the cemetery.

Accommodation: Riverside Motel

Overview: In arid lands, rivers become natural routes for travelling and our journey continues down the Darling, following this important trading route/songline. Today, though, we sidetrack to Stone Country and visit Gunderbooka National Park, with its story of Aboriginal occupation and art sites. Our route then takes us back to the river port town of Louth, to our overnight stay at Trillby – a modern and interesting sheep grazing property on the Darling.

Accommodation: Trillby Station

Overview: Our Story continues by following the Darling through the riverport town of Tilpa and on to Wilcannia with its rich and vibrant European history (“Queen City of the West”) and beautiful sandstone buildings to remind us of those days. Wilcannia has a large Aboriginal community, being the traditional area of the Barkingji people – so it too has another story to tell and one which we will explore as we continue down the river to our overnight stay in Menindee.

Accommodation: Burke & Wills Motel

Overview: Today is spent in the Menindee area.

We spend time visiting the Kinchega National Park.  We visit the historic woolshed and travel some of the internal tracks on the Darling flood plain and around the Menindee Lakes system to experience the differing environments.

When the lake system was full it provided and amazingly rich environment for the local Aboriginal people – while evidence for this occupation is not easily found, the rich bird, fish and mammal life in the lake system is still evident in abundance and the site of the local ‘mission’ is still accessible.

Accommodation: Bindarra Station

Overview: Leaving Bindarra, we follow the westside of the Darling meandering through the River Red Gum Forests eventually crossing the river near the old port town Pooncarie. We then access the Willandra lakes regions and Mungo National Park via Gampung Lake and homestead.

The World Heritage listing of Mungo National Park indicates its importance and interest. Time to Absorb the Special atmosphere and enjoy the sunset at the famous “Walls of China”. But it is Lake Mungo, the hidden story of each sanddune within the Mungo Lunette of this dry lake that is now an ancient lake bed that has provided the Aboriginal peoplewith the discovery of the oldest human remain to date with the sedimentary sands revealing Mungo man and Mungo lady in the early 1970’s that reset the the time clock for aboriginal history.

Accommodation: Mungo Lodge

Overview: Time this morning to explore the new “footprints in the Sand” interpretive walk. At least 450 prints following 23 discernable trackways were discovered by Mary Pappin Jr; a young Aboriginal Ranger working with National Parks. The prints have been dated at approximatley 20,000 years (at the time of the last ice age) and give and amazing insight into life during that period. We rejoin the Darling River near Mildura (lunch at the Inland Botanical Gardens) and travel on to Wentworth, an historic town at the junction of the Darling and Murray Rivers.

Accommodation: Wentworth Central Motor Inn

Overview: Continuing on our exploration of the Murray/Darling River systems we follow the Murray as it winds its way through Hattah-Kulkyne National Park to Swan Hill – lunch alongside the river and then on to the huge wetland area of the Kerry Lakes system. Time for some bird watching and a visit to Kow Swamp – another important archaeological site contrasting markedly with Mungo National Park. Our overnight stay tonight is at Eucha – once the biggest inland port in Australia and home to the only brothel in Australia classified by the National Trust.

Accommodation: Paddlewheel Motel Echuca

Overview: From Echuca we travel to the Barmah River Red Gum forests – the largest in Australia – investigating the Aboriginal history of the area and taking a river boat cruise along a section of this unaltered wetland area. Morning tea alongside the river before heading to Byramine homestead (original home of Elizabeth Hume) for lunch and tour. Our Journey continues along the Murray, stopping at Albury/Wodonga before reaching the Hume Resort with time to walk to the dam wall and around the adjacent foreshore before tea.

Accommodation: Lake Hulme Resort

Overview: Continuing our explanation of the Murray River our route travels through Walwa, Tintaldra and on to Continuing our exploration of Khancoban for lunch (on the shores of Khancoban pondage – part of the Snowy Scheme). From here we enter the high country – the land of the Moth Hunters – on our way to our overnight stay at Jindabyne.

Accommodation: Quality Horizons Resort

Overview: An early start this morning as we travel through Shannons Flat to Namadgi National Park (Yaknee Hat Rockshelter) and on to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve (Birrigai Rockshelter). We enjoy lunch here before rejoining the Hume Highway on our route home to Sydney.

A unique opportunity Lakes Menindee and Cawndilla.
Understand the Aboriginal approach to river management of the Darling and then the Colonial approach.
View the Brewarrina fish traps which are estimated to be over 40,000 years old.
A vivid collection of awe-inspiring landscapes, extraordinary historical tales and memorable characters.
Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site Mungo National Park, home of Mungo man and Mungo Lady.

What’s included in our Tour

  • National Park Entry Fees and excursions as indicated
  • 14 days of touring in comfortable and modern mini-coach to a maximum number of 17 Guests
  • 13 Nights twin-share accommodation at motel with en-suite facilities
  • 13 breakfasts, 10 dinners.

What’s not included in our Tour

  • Items of a personal nature such as telephone calls, laundry etc
  • Travel Insurance
  • Beverages with meals