The Darling River Run is a once in a lifetime road trip. It is a massive 2740 km route running through the New South Wales outback, following the largest river system in Australia. Taking your four-wheel drive along its tracks and trails is a great adventure. But it’s also fairly isolated. So it’s important to look at the Darling River Run road conditions and be aware of everything going on as you take on this long drive through the outback.
Darling River Run Road 4wd Tracks and Trails
The tracks and trails are perfect for off-roading. The drive, which generally starts from Walgett and ends in Wentworth, might be long but is definitely worthwhile. It lets visitors take in Australia’s beautiful landscape and historical and cultural places of interest. What’s more, you can look forward to glimpses of the river ports of Bourke, Louth, Tilpa, Wilcannia and Wentworth. The Menindee-Wentworth road section gives visitors a chance to drive in rougher terrain. To get the best experience, it’s recommended that you spend at least a week on the Darling River Run.
The Red Sandhills of Menindee
Whatever your level of off-roading experience, the outback is an adventure to relish. But, of the many Darling River Run 4wd tracks, the undulating terrain of the Sandhills is particularly irresistible. The Sandhills were, in fact, the first European settlement on the river. Visitors can also relax or fish by the river.
Darling River Run Camping and Places of Interest
If you want to take a break from off-roading there are many campsites and these are usually near places of historic interest. The Darling catchment contains a number of significant National Parks. There are 33 campsites in the Mungo National Park. This is an interesting detour from the normal route. It is a world heritage site where the Mungo Lady and the Mungo Man were found. They are thought to be the oldest human cremations. Alternatively, the Trilby Station, a sheep station covering 320,000 acres, is both a place of cultural interest and offers accommodation.
The Darling River Run Road Conditions
But what exactly are the conditions of the roads and what should visitors be aware of? Today the once difficult drive down the Darling River is relatively easy. The dirt and gravel surfaces are mostly well maintained. When it rains roads are swiftly closed to prevent tyre damage and to ensure personal safety. The Darling River Run road conditions have improved so much that in dry weather you could even use a soft-roader, if you kept your speed down to 80 km/h. But, even though conditions are better, drivers should still be aware of possible hazards.
The most obvious warning is not to drive continuously. Try to break up the journey by exploring places of interest as you go down the river. Aim to take breaks every 2-3 hours. In particular, try not to drive at sunrise and sunset. Many native animals, like Roos and Emus, are awake at this time and are likely to be attracted by headlights. Be alert when livestock approach. They can crossroads at any time.
Be careful when approaching other vehicles. Flash your lights if you’re trying to overtake trucks. Be incredibly cautious when overtaking road trains (double semi-trailers) because of their length.
Unsealed roads don’t have a smooth surface and conditions quickly change. So stick to safe speeds. When driving past vehicles always reduce speed and move to the left so there is less stone damage to the windscreen and paint. This also minimises the dust that might blow up and ensures you can always see what’s going on around you.
Never drive on gravel roads that have been closed. Some roads might have cattle grids to prevent animals crossing. Don’t go past them too fast. If you’re going off the main road, be aware that side drains may be wet, even if they look dry. Creek crossings can also cause car damage. You should approach these with caution.
Even if your car breaks down, don’t panic. Always remain with your vehicle. To make sure that you get a roadside assistant and can drive away as soon as possible, get cover. A mechanic sometimes requires a help from Roadside Assistance, so you will need it without a doubt. Whether you drive a cheap used car or a brand new car, it is recommended that every vehicle is covered by roadside assistance.
Country people are always friendly but as much as visitors might like to explore their property, not everyone welcomes visitors into their space. Remember that this is still their home and livelihood. Make sure your presence isn’t disruptive. It can be difficult to determine whether or not a gate should be open or closed. But always leave gates in the position they were originally in. It is also important to get permission before camping at a homestead. Ask the owner before you do anything and get them to choose where you can camp.
Finally, it goes without saying, that this road trip is something everyone who has some interest in off-roading should experience, at least once in their lives.