The very essence upon which many of our famous Australian poets have based some of their beautiful poetry including Henry Lawson is the stunning Australian Outback, and for good reason. Although a harsh and unforgiving landscape it is also a place of wonder and inspiration that will uplift the spirits. On this journey of discovery after spending a few days of r & r in Gundabooka National Park we trace part of a journey that was once the domain of the riverboats south from Bourke finally ending in Wilcannia a few days later. We are of course talking about the beautiful Darling River, once the only means of getting goods to and from this isolated outback region.
After gaining supplies and restocking in Bourke we decided to take the road less traveled venturing north before turning south tracing the western bank of the Darling. The roads are dusty, rough and corrugated but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Give us this any day to a 6 lane motorway. Not far down the road we reach Toorale National Park on the vast Darling Floodplains. Once touted as the “Largest Sheep Station in the world” the national park is only a portion of the once 91,000 hectare property. Henry Lawson even worked here for a time penning such poems as “A Stranger on the Darling”, and “Bosses Boots” during his time here.
If peace and solitude is what you are after then Toorale National Park is the right place to come. Camped by the majestic Darling River we could almost pen some of our own poems, although they may not live up to Henry Lawson standards. That night we were treated to a million star view reminding us why we love traveling and exploring this amazing country of ours.
The Darling River Loop Drive through the park is a must and really showcases the vast floodplains that make this park so special. It reminds us of Queensland’s Channel Country, an area we both love exploring.
Not far south from the River Drive is the impressive historic Toorale Homestead. A grand old structure that was once the beating heart of this massive station. Standing here today in peace and isolation you can almost hear the activity of those early days when this precinct would have been a hive of activity. It is a very special place indeed.
All too soon we were back on the road heading ever further south towards the tiny settlement of Louth but not before a quick stop and short climb to take in the vastness of this landscape from Talowla Lookout, a spot used not only by generations of settlers but also by the indigenous people that once called this place home for millennia.
Pulling up in Louth it was interesting to see the place without the crowds. You see we have been to Louth on a couple occasions previously during their annual horse race event in an official capacity. The town swells to over 500% each year for one weekend in August and it is an event that should be on your bucket list at least once. Today however the town is back to its sleepy self and still a friendly place to visit. We opted for a meal at the pub, the Shindy Inn and lets just say we were not disappointed. From Louth we picked up the eastern bank of the darling this time pointing the bonnet of the cruiser for Tilpa Weir for the night just outside the tiny settlement of Tilpa, it also with its famous bush pub on the banks of the Darling.
After another star clad night and inspiring sunset and sunrise beside the Darling it was all too soon time to pull up stumps and tackle the remaining couple hundred kilometres to Willcania, another once important port along the river. It was here we pulled up to have lunch opposite the beautiful sandstone clad historic hospital the we learnt Willcania Hospital was the first outside of Sydney to experiment with x-rays during the 1890s. It is always fascinating to learn some of these little known facts about our amazing outback.
From Willcania it is on the blacktop to the Silver City, Broken Hill for a few days, where we may even take in a raunchy show of “Priscilla” fame before embarking on the next leg of our outback odyssey into the unknown.