Darling-Broken Hill/Wilcannia Region

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Darling-Broken Hill/Wilcannia Region

Wilcannia

Wilcannia was once known as the ‘Queen City of the West.  In the 1880’s, the town was a busy transport hub and was Australia’s third largest inland port.  Several beautiful and architecturally impressive buildings made of sandstone still remain from that boom time. As the river boat trade declined, so too did the Queen City. However, its buildings and National Trust-listed centre-lift Bridge and old wharf still survive.

The Long Paddock

Wilcannia is the start of The Long paddock, a travelling stock route used by generations of people along the Cobb Highway from Echuca-Moama to Wilcannia. The route was frequented by travelling Aboriginal clans, bullockies, farmers, swagmen, shearers and Cobb & Co coaches. The Long Paddock celebrates a proud heritage through displays and artworks from the Murray to the Darling River.

Mutawintji National Park

Mutawintji is located 131kms north east of Broken Hill and has been a significant place for Aboriginal people for thousands of years.  It served as a site for large gatherings, where business, common and social gatherings took place.  The park is now held by the local Mutawintji Aboriginal Land Council and is full of gorges, ephemeral creeks and water holes. It is one of the few sources of water in this semi-arid landscape.

Broken Hill

A chance find in 1883 by a boundary rider led to the discovery of silver, lead and zinc. By the 1900’s, Broken Hill (the Silver City) had a population of 27,000, 60 licensed hotels and some of the finest public buildings outside of capital cities. Over the years, the miners dug up the richest deposits of silver, lead and zinc in the world. The town has a fascinating history of trade unionism, surviving in a harsh climate, securing a water supply, and constantly adjusting to change. In recent years, the city has developed thriving arts and tourism industries.

Silverton

Gold and silver attracted 1700 people to Silverton between 1867 and 1884. However, the rush was short-lived and by 1901, the Broken Hill boom saw the town population return to 286. Situated 25kms north-west of Broken Hill, Silverton has become well-known again as a home for artists’ galleries and studios as well as the setting for over 140 films and commercials.

Menindee Lakes

This network of lakes has the capacity to hold three times the volume of Sydney Harbour.  The Menindee Lakes are the only group of large lakes along the entire length of the Darling River and comprise 19 lakes.  The Menindee Lakes are typical of freshwater lakes in the Murray-Darling Basin with kidney-shaped basins and white sandy beaches on the eastern margins. The area is one of the best freshwater fishing spots in NSW and is ideal for bird watching and a range of water sports.

The Menindee Lakes are the only group of large lakes along the entire length of the Darling River. They comprise 19 lakes, ranging in size from 103 to 15,900 hectares. The biggest lakes are Menindee, Pamamaroo and Cawndilla.

Before the Menindee Lakes Scheme was constructed in the 1960s, the lakes connected directly to the Darling River via short creeks and ranged in flood frequency from one in two years to one in 20 years. The Menindee Lakes are typical of freshwater lakes in the Murray-Darling Basin with low-lying elliptical or kidney-shaped basins, white sandy beaches and a lunette on the eastern margin. A red soil ridge, sometimes steep, eroding and cliff-like, forms the western edges of the lakes.

The Darling River below Menindee flows in a south-easterly arc for 200km before joining the Murray River at Wentworth. The river channel is young, formed 11,000 years ago. It is relatively narrow with small meanders, while downstream of Pooncarie, it is quite straight.

The Darling spills into the Great Darling Anabranch about 55 km south of Menindee. Between Menindee and the Darling Anabranch is an expansive area of floodplain with River red gum woodland and Black box trees A series of 16 lakes occur along the Darling Anabranch. The lakes connect to the Darling River during floods, providing important habitat for water birds and fish.  River red gum floodplain dominates the northern part of the Darling Anabranch. Lakes in this section flood one in three years. The southern half of the Anabranch floods less often with lakes in this section flooding one in 10 years.  The Darling Anabranch also receives backwater flows where it joins the Murray River west of Wentworth.

Menindee

The township of Menindee sits amongst the Menindee Lakes system and was the first town on the Darling River.  A pipeline from Menindee provides Broken Hill with a secure supply of fresh water.  The Burke and Wills expedition stayed at Menindee in October 1860. They set up a base camp 18 kilometres upstream at Pamamaroo Creek before their ill-fated push to Cooper Creek and the Gulf of Carpentaria.


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