Brewarrina is the last town on the Barwon River before the river changes its name to the Darling River. This occurs between Brewarrina and Bourke at the junction of the Culgoa River. It was Roderick Mitchell, the NSW Commissioner of Crown Lands, who in 1846 proved that the Barwon and Darling were the same river.
Brewarrina Fish traps – Ngunnhu
Sometimes referred to as the oldest man-made structure on earth, this elaborate half kilometre network of rocks and pools was built by the Ngemba people to catch fish as they swam upstream. Built about 40,000 years ago, the fisheries are a significant place for Aboriginal people. They are National Heritage Listed and still lure fish today. Despite some rocks being removed for buildings and to allow paddle steamers to pass, the fisheries are still used today to catch fish.
Just downstream of Brewarrina are ochre beds in the river banks. Aboriginal people mixed the ochre with water to make a paste for art work, including body art for traditional ceremonies. The beds are protected under NSW State Heritage listing.
This mission, upstream of Brewarrina, opened in 1886. Aboriginal people from 10 different tribes and numerous family groups from as far away as Tibooburra were forcibly removed from their traditional lands and relocated to the mission. The Aboriginal people were forced to adopt a European lifestyle and they were generally forbidden to practice their traditional culture and languages. This resulted in the destruction of traditional social structures.
A monument north of Brewarrina recalls the mass killing of Aboriginal people as revenge for the death of a white boundary rider who stole an Aboriginal woman and was killed by native men. It is said that 400 Aboriginal people were chased over the river and killed at Hospital Creek.
Built in 18989, the bridge at Brewarrina is one of the few remaining lift span bridges in NSW. Two men wound a pulley to raise the centre span to allow paddle steamers to pass beneath. This bridge is of great significance as, like other bridges along the Darling, it played a key role in opening up social and commercial development in outback NSW.
Bourke to Brewarrina Native Fish Demonstration Reach
This is one of several reaches across the Murray-Darling Basin where considerable resources are being used to rehabilitate large river reaches to encourage improved populations of native fish and their habitats. Demonstration reaches are an initiative of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Native Fish Strategy but involves government agencies and community groups.