Living Outback Attractions
The Living Outback region of New South Wales is known for its wildlife and landscape.
Mungo National Park
27,800ha.Mungo National Park was established in 1979 on the old Mungo sheep station, which had been bought by the National Parks and Wildlife Foundation. The area was part of an old water system which dried up after the last ice age, some 15,000 years ago.Round the shores of the former lake are white sand dunes known as the Walls of China. Archaeological finds suggest that the Lake Mungo area was occupied by humans 40,000 years ago.Campsites and good facilities for visitors, bush walking trails, observation of nature and picnic spots are all features of the park.Mungo National Park is the centre of the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area. The area is known for the record it holds of Aboriginal life dating back some 40,000 to 60,000 years.
Address: Boz 318, Buronga, NSW 2739, Australia
Entrance fee in AUD: Vehicle plus all occupants $7.00
Useful tips: Access via Mildura, Buronga and the road to Arumpo, 114 km (track). Admission cost is per vehicle per day. Adult and child fees are for camping only and apply per night.
Disability Access: Partial facilities for persons with disabilities.
Mutawintji National Park
68,912ha.Mutawintji (Mootwingee) National Park, centered on Mutawintji Historic Site (485ha; Nootumbulla Creek, with many Aboriginal remains), is one of the youngest of the National Parks, a semi-arid region with rugged sandstone hills and waterholes in narrow gorges. Many Aboriginal rock paintings and drawings, and evidence of early white settlement and exploration.From the peaks in the Bynguano Range there are good views of the surrounding plains. The mountain kangaroo can be seen here, particularly in the late afternoon.
Address: 183 Argent Street, Broken Hill, NSW 2880, Australia
Entrance fee: FREE
Useful tips: Access on tracks from Broken Hill, Tibooburra and White Cliffs (possible only in dry weather). No drinking water, no provisions. Admission cost is for camping only and applies per day for two people.
White Cliffs, Australia
White Cliffs (pop. 210) is in the outback, with the oldest commercially developed oilfield in Australia - a lunar landscape with over 50,000 craters, the legacy of over 90 years of opal mining. Most of the inhabitants live in underground dwellings to escape the heat of summer and the cold of winter.In the town's heyday it had a population of 5000 and five hotels. From that period there still survive a few old buildings (police station, post office, school).
150km west of White Cliffs is Mutawintji National Park, with Aboriginal rock drawings.
The far west of New South Wales is a fascinating and typically Australian region, depicted in poetry and folk tales as an endless red plain spangled with wild flowers and patterned by rocky hills and dried-up rivers. Much of the year is very pleasant, but it can be very hot in summer. Anything 'back o' Bourke', it is said, is the real outback.The town (pop. 3380) is the supply center for a vast area of sheep country which produces over 50,000 bales of wool a year (formerly shipped downstream on the Darling River). The construction of the Bourke Weir in 1892 made it possible to grow citrus fruits and cotton in irrigated fields, amid arid plains covered with salt bush and Mitchell grass. During his 1835 expedition Thomas Mitchell built Fort Bourke. The town itself, founded around 1860, developed into an important coaching station.The Bourke Historical Museum (45 Mitchell Street) offers an excellent survey of the history of the outback.
Cobar (pop. 5600), formerly a farming town with a cattle market and wool as the primary industry, it is now an important mining center with a huge copper mine opened about 1960 and a silver, lead and zinc mine opened in 1983 in which the most modern technology is used. At one time it had a population of 10,000, but the numbers declined in the 1920s after the closing of a mine which had been operating since 1870.Many old buildings have survived from the town's heyday (courthouse, police office, Roman Catholic church and the Great Western Hotel, now a museum, with a verandah over 100 m long). The museum illustrates very vividly the history of mining and also has sections devoted to sheep-farming, the pioneering period and the Aborigines.
A pipeline 135 km long brings water from Nyngan, to the east of Cobar, and crops now flourish in what was formerly an arid region.
On Mount Grenfell are caves with Aboriginal rock paintings.
Wilcannia (pop. 900), proclaimed a town in 1864, was known as the 'queen city of the west' at one time. It lies on the Darling River and on the Barrier Highway. It was once an important river port, shipping wool from the distant northwest of New South Wales, but the end of shipping on the river led to a sharp fall in population, and the town declined. There is a small museum with interesting exhibits on the great days of the paddle steamers. Wilcannia is now mainly the service center for the thinly populated surrounding area.Wilcannia has preserved a number of 19th C buildings.
Menindee (pop. 800) is a small township on the Darling River in which Burke and Wills established a base camp on their ill-fated expedition to the north in 1860. The Menindee Lake, upstream from the township (excellent facilities for water sports), supply water to Broken Hill, an artificial oasis in the arid outback 110km northwest of Menindee.The transcontinental railway line from Perth to Sydney runs via Menindee.
Kinchega National Park
44,182ha.Kinchega National Park was established in 1967 by the New South Wales government in cooperation with the Broken Hill mining companies. In the mid 19th C the red sandy plains and expanses of black earth once formed the huge Kinchega station, one of the first grazing farms in the Darling valley, an area explored by John Mitchell in 1835 which was frequently a staging post for other expeditions (Sturt, Wills and Burke).Simple camping sites, swimming, fishing, bush walking trails, animal and bird watching are all available at the park. There is a visitor center 15km southwest of Menindee. Picnic spots are on the banks of Darling.
The historic old settlement of Wentworth (pop. 1300) was for many years a busy river and customs port. It was the third largest port in New South Wales (after Sydney and Newcastle) in the heyday of shipping traffic on the Murray River. It is now a quiet tourist center (Sunraysia).Old jail, courthouse, churches of St John and St Francis Xavier (c 1870).
Brewarrina (pop. 1500) is a little country town on the Darling River in the wheat and grazing country of the northwest.In the bed of the Darling River is a complex of low-walled stone channels, an Aboriginal fish trap. Hence the name of the town, from an Aboriginal word meaning 'good fishing'.
Some 40 km east of Brewarrina, on Narran Lake, is a bird sanctuary.
The little town of Nyngan (pop. 2500) lies at the junction of the Mitchell and Barrier Highways. Here Thomas Mitchell camped in 1835, when his companion Richard Cunningham, a botanist, was killed by Aborigines. The town was founded about 1880, when the railway to Bourke was built. It is noted for its wool.
Macquarie Marshes, a bird sanctuary, is north of Nyngan.