Great Artesian Basin
Bourke sits on the rim of one of the world’s major natural features – the Great Artesian Basin. It comprises 1.7 million square kilometres of underground water that is about two million years old. The total volume of this vast resource is thought to be about 8,700 million mega litres; it currently discharges 570,000 mega litres each year.
Gundabooka National Park
This large and striking hilly area 80kms south of Bourke has beautiful bush land, Aboriginal rock paintings and wonderful bush walks. The rich Aboriginal heritage arises from the place of the landscape in creation and ceremony as well as abundant water, food, medicine plants and stone. Superb views are available and kangaroos, emus and birds are common. The central mountain catches rain and funnels the water into life-giving creeks and waterholes.
This small town, 100kms downstream of Bourke, was described by Henry Lawson as place that loved “a drink, a party and a punt.” At the cemetery, is the spectacular monument to Mary Mathews, built in 1886 from granite carried up the Murray and Darling rivers in sections on a paddle steamer. At nearby Dunlop Station, sheep were first shorn with mechanical shears in 1888.
Close to Louth is Toorale Station, once part of the McCaughey wool empire whose stations were the first in the world to use mechanical shears and electricity. Toorale station was recently bought by the Commonwealth Government as part of its water buy-back program to secure water for environmental flows.
Tilpa’s pub has been welcoming travellers for over 100 years. The town was once a thriving port and a ‘crossroad’ for people and trade moving along and across the Darling. The town has a cemetery with no graves, a monument to Breaker Morant, and the shortest heritage trail in Australia! It is a popular place for fishing, bush walking and bird-watching
Paroo-Darling National Park
This is one of the newest parks in far western NSW. The park contains extensive wetlands associated with the Paroo River, the last major unregulated river system within the Murray-Darling Basin. These wetlands are internationally important and protect several endangered and vulnerable species.
This opal mining area, 94 kilometres from Wilcannia, mainly exists underground to escape the summer heat. Underground homes were built in opal mineshafts where temperatures are constant through the year. The white crystal opals were first found in 1889 and by the early 1900’s; about 4,000 people were digging for treasure, creating the lunar landscape that remains today.