Darling River Run, the most iconic Outback NSW touring routes, darling river camping, touring routes, maps, Itineraries, and the best Outback NSW attractions.

Best Times: Autumn - Spring (*Summer is hot, but still great!)

NOTE: The following is an abridged version of the Darling River Run route from my other site the  Darling River Run, which is a dedicated website for all things on the Darling River.

For many, the Darling River Run is regarded as one of the best outback touring routes in Outback NSW. While it might not be an extreme 4x4 adventure route that some seek, it is one that accessible in a conventional passenger vehicle, AWD SUV, motorbike, as well as a 4WD; with the advantage of being less than a days drive to get to the Darling River.

 The Darling River Run

The Upper Darling

The upper section of the Darling River Run encompasses the tributaries that flow from Queensland's Darling Downs as well as those flowing north-west like the Macquarie, Namoi, and Barwon.

Iconic towns like Walgett, Brewarrina, Bourke, and Louth provide unique experiences for the Outback NSW visitor (not to mention Lightning Ridge to the north). The towns and regions of the upper Darling are steeped in indigenous history and living culture as well as European pastoral history.


Section 1: Walgett to Brewarrina

The Darling River Run - The Namoi River at Walgett Outback NSW

NOTE: Even though the Lightning Ridge is not actually on the Darling River, it should be included when visiting the upper Darling as it is a real ‘must-see’ destination.

The first downstream sector of the Darling River Run follows the Kamilaroi Highway along the Barwon River before crossing the river just before Brewarrina.

Western Route

Road Type: Sealed

Distance: 133 km

Road/Routes: 

  • Kamilaroi Highway

Eastern Route

Road Type: Sealed and unsealed

Distance: 177 km

Road/Routes: 

  • Bill O'Brien Way
  • Llanillo Rd <> Wilby Wilby Rd
  • Kurrajong Rd
  • Narran Lake Rd
  • Goodooga Rd

Section 2: Brewarrina to Bourke

The Darling River Run - The Brewarrina fish traps on the Darling River Outback NSW

The Brewarrina to Bourke section of The Darling River Run is an easy drive along the Kamilaroi Highway with not much access to the river. There is an alternate route via the Culgoa River which follows its path down to where it meets the Darling River.

Western Route

Road Type = gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 137 kms

Road/Routes:

  • North east along Kamilaroi Hwy 8km
  • Left at Collerina Rd: 36km
  • Left at Weilmoringle Rd: 77km
  • Left at Mitchell Highway to Bourke: 16km

Eastern Route

Road Type = Sealed

Distance: 97 kms

Road/Routes:

  • Kamilaroi Highway

Section 3: Bourke to Louth

 The Darling River Run - May's Bend camping on the Darling River at Bourke. Outback NSW

Travelling The Darling River Run from Bourke to Louth is normally via the Bourke-Wilcannia rd on the east of the river past Gundabooka NP.

An alternative route is possible on the west as it passes through some wonderful red soil country and across the Warrego River.

Western Route

Road Type = gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 125 kms

Road/Routes:

  • Out through Nth Bourke
  • Take the Wanaaring/Tibooburra Rd 
  • Turn off at Pera Bore (21 km)
  • Head southeast: 104 km (Crossing over the Warrego after about 80km)

Eastern Route

Road Type = Gravel (dry weather road) - mostly

Distance: 99 kms

Road/Routes: 

  • Bourke-Wilcannia Rd

The Central Darling

The middel (or central) section of the Darling River Run covers the more remote and outback areas of river plain; including the ephemeral Paroo River.

Iconic towns like Tilpa, Wilcannia and Menindee (Menindee Lakes) offer plenty if iconic outback experiences.


Section 4: Louth to Tilpa

The Darling River Run - The Darling River at Louth - Outback NSW

The Louth to Tilpa section of along the Darling is one of the best with 2 great options; the east route provides some great access to the river along the way while the western route passes some great historic properties like Trilby Station, Idalia Station and Kallara Station. (all providing camping and farm stay facilities)

Western Route

Road Type = Gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 89 kms

Road/Routes:

  • Take MR68A from Louth <> Tilpa: 89k m

Eastern Route

Road Type = Gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 92 kms

Road/Routes:

  • Bourke-Wilcannia Rd

Section 5: Tilpa to Wilcannia

The Darling River Run - The Tilpa bridge over the Darling River Outback NSW

With the choice of an eastern and western route, the Tilpa-Wilcannia section of The Darling River Run passes though some wonder country of the Central Darling. The eastern route passes though the Paroo-Darling National Park (and the wonderful Wilga camping site) while the western route tracks through the Paroo-Darling conservation area.

Western Route

Road Type = Gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 129 kms

Road/Routes:

  • Take MR68A from Tilpa <> Wilcannia: 129 km

Eastern Route

Road Type = Gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 145 kms

Road/Routes:

  • Bourke-Wilcannia Rd <> Barrier H'way: (138 km)
  • Barrier Highway <> Wilcannia: (7 km)

Section 6: Wilcannia to Menindee

The Darling River Run - The Wilcannia lift bridge over the Darling River - Outback NSW

Travelling The Darling River Run from Bourke to Louth is normally via the Bourke-Wilcannia rd on the east of the river past Gundabooka NP. An alternative route is possible on the west as it passes through some wonderful red soil country and across the Warrego River.

Western Route

Road Type = gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 158 kms

Road/Routes:

  • South along Barrier Highway: 8 km
  • Right onto SR10 <> Menindee Rd: 142 km
  • High Darling Rd <> Pooncarie-Wentworth Rd: 7 km
  • Menindee Rd <> Menindee: 1 km

Eastern Route

Road Type = gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 154 kms

Road/Routes:

  • Reid St out of Wilcannia MR68B <> Menindee Rd: 139 km
  • Menindee Rd <> Menindee: 15 km

The Lower Darling

The Lower Darling section of the Darling River Run, Menindee Lakes to Wentworth, covers some of the best outback attractions and experiences of Outback NSW including the iconic Lake Mango (Mungo National Park), a ‘must-see’ destinations with its much-photographed ‘Walls of China’, dunes, and Lunette landscapes. Lake Mungo is more about just an outback landscape of ethereal beauty as it has its very own unique story it has to tell about the richness of indigenous culture.

The other major unique feature of the Lower Darling is the confluence of the Murray River and Darling River, the point the the tow rivers meet before continuing, as one, to Lake Alexandrina.


Section 7: Menindee to Pooncarie

The Darling River Run - Menindee Lakes at Menindee, Outback NSW

The Menindee-Pooncarie section of The Darling River Run can be undertaken via west of the Darling River (through Kinchega NP) or the eastern side which which is the more direct route.

Western Route

Road Type = gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 185 kms

Road/Routes:

  • Old Pooncarie Rd (via Kinchega) <> Polia Rd: 84 km
  • Polia Rd <> High Darling Rd: 91 km
  • High Darling Rd <> Pooncarie-Wentworth Rd: 7 km
  • Pooncarie-Wentworth Rd <> Pooncarie: 3 km

Eastern Route

Road Type = Gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 125 kms

Road/Routes:

  • Menindee <> Pooncarie Rd

Section 8: Pooncarie to Wentworth

The Darling River Run - The Darling River at Pooncarie, Outback NSW

This section of the run can be undertaken via the east of the Darling River (which will enables you to visit Lake Mungo and the Mungo National Park) or the western side which affords more access to the river.

Western Route

Road Type = Gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 116 km (*126 km)

Road/Routes:

  • Pooncarie <> High Darling Rd: 3 km
  • High Darling Rd <> Low Darling Rd: 67 km - * (or High Darling Rd<>Garston Rd: 79 km - then 3.3 kms to Low Darling Rd)* 
  • Low Darling Rd<>Silver City H'way: 40km *(or Garston Rd<>Silvercity H'way 35 km
  • Silver City H'way<>Wentworth: 6 km

Eastern Route

Road Type = gravel (dry weather road)

Distance: 120 kms

Road/Routes:

  • Wentworth <> Pooncarie Rd

The Darling River Run - Junction Island at the confluence of the Murray River and the Darling River. Wentworth, Outback NSW


Darling River Run Outback Safety

To get the most out of any outback trip, it is best to remember a few golden rules to this type of travel and while the Darling River Run is relatively close to towns and cities, the same rules apply to ensure the best possible experience.

  • All ways let someone know where you are and heading.
  • Make sure your vehicle is well prepared.
  • Include at least one spare tyre.
  • In the event of a breakdown, stay near your vehicle.
  • Carry adequate fuel, food and water.
  • Drive to conditions.
  • Keep to, or below, the speed limit.
  • Slow down on dirt and gravel roads when your vision is obscured by the sun or dust.
  • Dust from other vehicles, especially oncoming vehicles, can obscure hazards.
  • Avoid travelling at dawn, dusk and at night as wildlife and stock wander.
  • Observe RTA and local council advisory signs and notices concerning road closures.
  • Rain may cause the closure of unsealed roads.
  • Care for the environment and take your rubbish with you.
  • Leave gates as you find them....
  • Random access through private property is not permissible.
  • Stop, Revive and Survive.

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