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It’s a little hard to believe Wilcannia on the mighty Darling was once Australia’s third-largest inland port. In the days of paddle-steamers, the historic town played a vital part in the transport of wool and wheat. It hummed in the 1880s with a 3000-strong cosmopolitan population, 13 hotels and a busy river. Wilcannia loosely translates to “a gap in the bank where the flood waters escape” in the local dialect.
Home to the Barkindji people for up to 50,000 years, the area has a richly unique Aboriginal and white history. Major Thomas Mitchell came across this region in 1835, followed by European pastoralists in the 1850s. Take the heritage trail, browse the Athenaeum Museum, marvel at historic sandstone buildings and chat with the locals.
Tilpa is 145km to the north-east. Its population is minuscule but even on ‘the shortest heritage walk in Australia’, you’ll pick up the late 19th century vibe when barges carried wheat to South Australia.
About 70km beyond is another tiny outback town, Louth, which dates back to 1859 when a pub was built to cater for passing river trade. Check out the ‘shining headstone’ while you’re here, and if you visit around August, make sure you catch the annual Louth Races and experience the fun, colour and excitement of an outback horse racing event.
Driving north-east from Louth for 58 km along the Toorale Road brings you to Toorale National Park. Allow about one hour for the journey.
The ancient landscape of Mutawintji National Park, north east of Broken Hill, is rich in Aboriginal history. Explore bushwalks and camp under the outback night sky.