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People, Explorers & Settlement
THE ARRIVAL OF PEOPLE
Aboriginal people arrived in Australia 50,000 years ago and reached the Murray-Darling River system about 40,000 years ago.
The earliest evidence of human occupation so far found in Australia has been located at Lake Mungo in Western NSW, not far from the Darling River.
Records indicate that Aboriginal people have been living along the Darling River for over 30,000 years.
EXPLORERS & WHITE SETTLEMENT
- The explorer Charles Sturt was the first white man to see the Darling River in 1829. He named his discovery after Governor Darling.
- The floodplains of the Darling catchment were first settled by sheep and cattle pastoralists in the 1840s.
- From 1853, river transport placed an important role in opening up western NSW. River boats traveled up the Darling as far as Mungindi on the NSW/Queensland border.
- Wentworth, Wilcannia, Tilpa, Louth and Bourke were major ports for the busy paddle steamer river trade in the mid to late-1800s.
- The river trade reached its peak between 1870 and 1880 but declined as railways gradually took over.
- The largest urban centre in the lower Darling catchment is Broken Hill. Other major centre’s include Brewarrina, Bourke, Wilcannia, Menindee and Wentworth.