Explore the legendary inland rivers from source to sea on the Darling River Run through outback NSW

Trace historic waterways and wildlife corridors winding their way 3,000 kms through remote Outback New South Wales and discover more than a century of pioneering endeavour.

Immerse yourself in Indigenous occupation and culture, inland exploration, once bustling river ports, world heritage parks and pastoral station life.

Travel the back roads through 170 years of settlement. Discover the real Australia beyond the “Back of Bourke”, the woolsheds and homesteads of historic pastoral stations and dynasties. Be better informed of the present day Murray-Darling environmental issues in an era of climate change.

2021 departures and prices now available. Register now for your priority reservation and advanced releases.

Note:  We expect our post-Coronavirus touring program under the “new normal” will recommence on August 23, 2020. Until then we are ensuring guests can secure a reservation for any 2020-21 tour without any financial risk of a deposit. Normal pricing and discount offers will remain. Deposits will be requested once restrictions are eased and tours have confirmed access. We expect tours to remain the same. Health authority advices and protocols will apply. Secure your reservation by firstly, enquiring today.

Tour Highlights

Why you'll like this tour

Picture yourself, strolling alone on the grand banks of the Darling River, with majestic River Red Gums and prolific birdlife enriching your experience.

  • Imagine the days of 200 paddle steamers, hauling thousand of wool bales down stream from remote river ports to seaboard markets
  • Learn more of the culture and Aboriginal communities which lived a life of plenty on the shores of world heritage Mungo Lake. How the sands of time have revealed the world’s oldest cremation and ritual burial sites of Mungo Man and Mungo Woman, the remains of 135 other modern humans and many extinct mega-fauna
  • Follow Australia’s longest wildlife corridor, with its abundance of colour and species beyond the city reach
  • Chat with self-reliant locals who have lived a life by the rivers, their fascinating stories of adaption to “droughts and flooding rains”
  • Assimilate today’s environmental issues around sacred water resources, land management and climate, bridging the awareness divide. An informative experiential journey.
Enlarge Map
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Itinerary

Day 1 Brisbane to Mungindi tracing the outback waterways from source to sea

Departing from Brisbane, we identify the brooks and river tributaries of the greater Darling River Basin, the environmental dependence of communities and nature on the sacred resource of water

Features

  • View various tributaries of the Darling River basin following the tour theme “from source to sea” - insights into natural history along the waterways
  • Condamine River at Warwick; MacIntyre Brook at Inglewood; Dumaresq River at Yelarbon; MacIntyre River at Goondiwindi
  • Reflect on the towns and communities developed around and dependent on water
  • Let your thoughts flow to water allocations and the environmental sustainability of inland rivers
  • Consider the future of land management and degradation, the concept of finite natural resources
  • Initiatives underway domestically and globally, addressing our sacred natural resources
  • Consider the waterways as a life supporting wildlife corridor

Accommodation

Comfortable but modest country motel ensuite rooms

Meals

Tailgate M/Tea, A/Tea and lunch

Motel restaurant dinner

Travel

Driving:  542 kms in 4 relaxed stages over the full day

Walking: Relaxed roaming at feature stops

Day 2 Lessons from the Kamilaroi nation, Indigenous wisdom and engineering

A day of awareness and reality as we pass through Kamilaroi lands and outback towns at the face of Aboriginal cultural issues and needs. Time to reflect on the skills applied to fishing 40,000 years ago and family “virtues we may profitably imitate”

Features

  • Heading along back roads to Collarenebri and Walgett you focus on the Barwon River, shortly joined by the Castlereagh and Macquarie Rivers
  • He’d been there before, so said the poetry of Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson as he pelted a stone over the silent stream so brown, the Darling River at Walgett town
  • The proud and wide ranging Kamilaroi People were one of the four largest nations in Australia. From the Hunter Valley to SW Queensland they frequented the river valleys, the Barwon River and places around Collarenebri and Walgett
  • The Kamilaroi were fierce warriors but had virtues families of today “might profitably imitate”. So it was written in 1882 about their morality, their respect for wisdom and age, care of the sick and infirmed, and children committed to meagre fare
  • Here was the far extremities of the paddle steamer river services of the 1800’s which made possible a nation growing on the sheep’s back
  • Near Brewarrina the Barwon becomes the mighty Darling River, once described as Australia’s Mississippi after the great inland waterway of the USA
  • The ingenious design of Aboriginal Fish Traps on the edge of Brewarrina township, said to be 40,000 years old, are evidence of a people rich in engineering skills
  • A short diversion takes you to Hospital Creek where the massacre of 400 Aboriginal People took place centred around the abduction of an Aboriginal woman or killing of a white stockman. Differing accounts confused in time
  • From a dusty clay pan to lush grazing pastures a young couple regenerated their land following the holistic farming principles of Rhodesian biologist Alan Savory

Accommodation

Heritage style en-suite rooms at country motel - 2 nights

Meals

Tailgate M/Tea, A/Tea and Lunch

Local hotel restaurant dinner

Travel

Driving: 423 kms in 4 relaxed stages throughout the day

Walking: Relaxed roaming at feature stops

Day 3 Decide for yourself - are there “sunlit plains extended” beyond the Back of Bourke?

Poet Henry Lawson could not cope with the land to which he had been despatched and the town hasn’t forgiven him since, but acclaimed eye specialist Fred Hollows requested he be rested there in the “closest place to a real Australia”

Features

  • Poet Will Ogilvie wrote of Bourke being the “bitterest land of sweat and sorrow”, but if he were free he’d be off to the “Back of Bourke” tomorrow
  • Head to the Back of Bourke Exhibition Centre to assimilate with this iconic oasis town etched firmly in Australian inland river history
  • Here the people are a resilient bunch with an old bush spirit, defying the dry seasons and the derogatory verse of poet Henry Lawson when sent to go experience the bush
  • Colonial surveyor and explorer Thomas Mitchell found himself in conflict with the local Aboriginal people and created “Fort Bourke”, for the protection of his men and their stores
  • The last resting place (and stone of reflections) for internationally acclaimed eye specialist Prof Fred Hollows is found here in the company of other unsung outback heroes. The place of his choosing where he had contributed so much to eye-health in Indigenous communities
  • Gundabooka National Park offers a short walk to the Mulgowan (Yappa) Aboriginal Rock Art gallery and a spot of birding along the way
  • Cruising the Darling River on the paddle vessel Jandra presents an insight into grand old river times and an historic port
  • From the rumbling Mount Oxley in 1828, explorer Charles Sturt looked over his expedition pathway toward the Darling (no better seen but at sunset) and reported a strange gun discharge which he surmised to be a gaseous explosion from within

Accommodation

Heritage style en-suite rooms at country motel

Meals

Local hotel or cafe breakfast

Packed tailgate lunch by locals

Local hotel restaurant dinner

Travel

Driving:  150 kms of random local travel throughout the day

Walking: Roaming at feature stops plus 2 kms return on flat track to view rock art gallery

Day 4 A taste of adventure and outback pastoral history unfolds along the “Darling River Run”

Where pubs were built for river traffic and paddle steamers ruled the waterway, the Louth “Shindy’s Inn” has survived. Nearby, sheep stations wrapped in history are now “harvesting” wild goats and sophisticated travellers

Features

  • We’ll commence our excursions down the Darling River Run, to the village of Louth, following the east bank
  • 218 steamers once plied the Darling, travelling up-stream with stores for isolated pastoral stations and returning with their wool bales, bound for export to Europe
  • In the peak years, sheep stations were up to 2 million acres shearing 500,000 sheep
  • Visit the most historic of them all, Dunlop Station, where in 1888 it led the world in a revolutionary experiment in mechanical shearing
  • Lunch at the one and only Shindy’s Inn pub offers “the best potato chips for 100 kms” and other fascinating insights into country hospitality and humour
  • A “shining headstone” has long been the talk of the town apart from the annual races which today, for a brief moment, attract 5000 socialising country folk and visitors
  • Cobar, established in 1870 has been the centre of base metals, copper and gold mining in outback New south Wales
  • We’ll explore the town and its 19th century colonial architecture and gaze into the open cut mine pit near town centre from Fort Bourke Hill. The best Cobar vista, particularly at sunset

Accommodation

Quality en-suite rooms at country town motel

Meals

Local hotel or cafe breakfast

Tailgate M/Tea, A/Tea

Country hotel counter lunch

Dinner at motel restaurant

Travel

Driving:  228 kms in 3 relaxed stages on back roads throughout the day

Walking: Relaxed roaming at feature stops

Day 5 Sensitivity is central to an understanding of Aboriginal rock art and communities

The insensitive government treatment of people with cultural and language differences is obvious but the old port town of Wilcannia still shines with its grand sandstone buildings and the call of the Darling continues

Features

  • Departing Cobar, we’ll divert to Mount Grenfell to view an historic rock art site important to the clans and people of the Ngiyampaa nation. In 1859 it was the Ngiyampaa people who were massacred at the Hospital Creek site visited, near Brewarrina
  • Wilcannia has a fascinating history as a river port town and is home to the Barkindji people who have lived in the area for 40,000 years
  • The Wilcannia name is Aboriginal for “gap in the bank where the flood waters escape” acknowledging the Darling River has a history of breaking its banks. But floods and droughts are a boom and bust affair in the outback
  • The most striking visual surprise is Reid Street with its selection of wonderful sandstone buildings developed from local stone in the mid 1800’s
  • Rejoin the Darling River Run again and follow the east bank to Menindee
  • The barge Moorabin was in tow of the steamer Renmark when it struck a snag and sank in the Darling River near Billilla station in late 1925. Master of the Renmark, beached the barge before it sank lower, allowing much of its cargo of 800 bales of wool to be saved
  • At Menindee there is a lake system often under stress. Late afternoon and tomorrow, view the lake-scapes and reach an understanding of local water issues, the affects on people and wildlife
  • Explorers Burke and Wills enjoyed their last indulgences at the Maiden’s Hotel en route to their tragic expedition. Dine in their memory and chat with locals at the “Maidens”.

Accommodation

Comfortable but modest ensuite rooms at country motel

Meals

Motel restaurant breakfast

Tailgate M/Tea, A/Tea

Tailgate packed picnic lunch by locals

Travel

Driving:  472 kms outback travel in 4 stages on both highway and bush roads Walking:  Relaxed roaming at feature stops plus 3 kms return walk on flat trail to view rock art gallery

Day 6 Explore the heart and soul of grand old outback sheep stations and genuine Australian hospitality

Become infected by the magnificence of outback endeavour so connected to nature, the challenges of isolation and seasons. The energy and spirit of very special country people keen to share their life and love of the land with you, despite the everyday challenges. Arrive as a stranger and leave as a friend.

Features

  • Menindee was discovered by surveyor, explorer Thomas Mitchell in 1835 after which it became “the last outpost of civilisation” and a “jumping off place for the interior” exploration
  • Skirt by the lakes and follow the Darling River through Kinchega National Park and its corridor of stately River Red Gums. Walk the Darling billabong and visit the historic homestead site and woolshed of a once vast pastoral station
  • Settle in for the day and night at Bindara Station (1849) with its wealth of colonial and river history and legendary hospitality to match, a self sufficient bio-organic orchard and veggie garden and riverbank trails to wander
  • Originally called “Netley”, one million acres stretching from the river to the South Australian border, in a good year it ran 115,000 sheep, 750 cattle and 820 horses all managed by 200 staff
  • Discover the majestic homestead of red bricks sourced and fired on the property with other building materials transported up the river by paddle boat steamers
  • The station once boasted its own store, pub and school and was a river stop for the “steamers”. Large parts of the property were resumed by government after the world wars and the river frontage section was sold to the wealthy Packer family in 1936 and named “Bindara”
  • Current host Barb and her husband purchased the property in 1981. Barb has lived on the river all her married life, educating her two children through the long distance School of the Air
  • Wander through history or along the river bank, pausing to sit and ponder the sounds of nature and particularly some of the 150 bird species

Accommodation

Ensuite rooms at historic pastoral station homestead

Meals

Continental room service breakfast

Tailgate M/Tea

Homestead lunch on arrival

Homestead dinner or BBQ

Travel

Driving:  43 kms nominal local access bush tracks

Walking:  Relaxed roaming at feature stops and 2.3 kms / 1.5 to 2 hr short walk in Kinchega National Park

Day 7 Back roads lead to the remarkable archaeological discoveries of World Heritage Mungo Lake

Journey into the homeland of Aboriginal people who have lived here for millennia, a place of ancient culture and archaeological treasures. Where trackways of human footprints 20,000 yrs old have been found and climate change (not a new phenomenon) has shaped the land since the last ice age.

Features

  • A reasonably early start with a host history tour of Bindara, then follow local directions on back roads to the old port of Pooncarie, scheduling a M/Tea break with Barb and Bob in the quaint little village (population less than 50)
  • On the track outback, pass by old pub sites set strategically every 30 kms or so, to service the old stage coaches run by the “cattle king”, Sidney Kidman and his partners
  • View old school sites, lookouts over the Darling, other station homesteads and The Great Anabranch of the Darling which fills and flows parallel to the Darling all the way to the Murray River, once the main river reaches 6 metres
  • Lunch awaits at the modern and luxury Mungo Lodge
  • Devote the afternoon to the archaeological and landscape wonders of Mungo National Park, specifically short drives and guided strolls to local features and sun setting on the Walls of China
  • You are in the heart of the world heritage Willandra Lakes region encompassing Mungo
  • Drying up of a great inland water system and wind blowing across the dry Mungo Lake bed has created an amazing lunette landscape of dunes, ancient shorelines stratified into layers of sediments.
  • Our First Peoples once lived on the lake shores more than 40,000 yrs ago when the lakes provided an abundance of food.
  • The once buried Mungo Woman was uncovered by winds in 1969 on the western shore and 175 bone fragments were reassembled suggesting her age to be 40,000 yrs. Five years later, Mungo Man was revealed in what is said to be the oldest known cremation site in the world, now dated back some 68,000 yrs.
  • There has also been evidence of many primitive and extinct animal remains.

Accommodation

Quality ensuite cabins at luxury outback lodge

Meals

Homestead breakfast

Village cafe M/Tea

Restaurant lunch at outback lodge on arrival

Tailgate A/Tea

Dinner at lodge restaurant

Travel

Driving:  231 kms in 3 stages on back roads to Mungo National Park

Walking:  Relaxed roaming at feature stops and short guided walks (flat) at Mungo National Park

Day 8 Journey through unique Mallee Country in search of the Murray - Darling Rivers junction

Edging away from the dry outback and bound for the irrigated food bowl of Australia, time to study the unique Mallee trees and sandy country with the mighty Murray River looming near, searching for its confluence with the Darling.

Features

  • After a dawn return to the Walls of China, your tour changes character but not historic relevance. Take the back roads through Mallee country to Mildura
  • Mallee country, a unique ecosystem of characteristic Eucalypt trees difficult to tame, possessing fast regeneration capacities after disturbance or fire. Growing in dry sandy country with few water courses but accepting rain like a sponge
  • Mallee makes great firewood leaving little ash, is a provider of Eucalyptus oil and home to the very shy and concealed Mallee Fowl
  • Visit the Murray and Darling River junction at Wentworth and reflect on a history of life and transport on the Murray, plus the network of locks and weirs that service the irrigation system and established food bowl

Accommodation

Ensuite rooms at regional motel

Meals

Lodge restaurant breakfast

Tailgate M/Tea

Cafe lunch and A/Tea

Town restaurant dinner

Travel

Driving: 175 kms in 3 stages throughout the day

Walking: Relaxed roaming at feature stops

Day 9 The river scenery and experiences change dramatically with demands of industry and pleasure

When two great rivers meet the “personality” of one inevitably dominates. The Darling now serves the Murray and irrigation has brought enterprise and prosperity to some, while others jump aboard the houseboat or paddle boat experience.

Features

  • Bid farewell to the Darling River and travel from village to village down the Murray River headed for “the mouth”, passing through the Riverland, a large wine producing region. Millions of stone fruit, citrus and almond trees adorn the landscape
  • The small village of Morgan on the Murray banks beckons for lunch. Historically, it was the home of a large Indigenous Riverland population. It became the second busiest port in South Australia behind Port Adelaide, handling nearly all goods being imported or exported, particularly the wool being barged down the Darling
  • Today Morgan is a haven for houseboats and new prestige waterfront holiday homes for Adelaide folk
  • Mannum provides a picturesque village atmosphere by the river for our overnight stop
  • Its claim to fame is “the birthplace of the Murray River Paddle Steamers”, an early pastoral station network using the river to market their goods and settlement by new farmers of German stock growing cereals and sheep production

Accommodation

Ensuite rooms at town motel

Meals

Continental breakfast to room

Tailgate or cafe M/Tea

Restaurant or winery garden lunch

Cafe A/Tea

Motel restaurant dinner

Travel

Driving:  344 kms in 3 relaxed sealed road stages throughout the day

Walking: Relaxed roaming at feature stops

Day 10 Your journey concludes in a reflective mood, celebrating your outback experiences

Today you complete your “source to sea” journey recalling the brooks visited on day one, the solitude and tranquility of the Darling River bank your heart now “owns” and one last experience, the excitement of an exhilarating power boat ride on the southern sea.

Features

  • Early departure today for the shores of Lake Alexandrina where the freshwater of the Murray flows into and is mixed with salt water from Encounter Bay and the great southern ocean.
  • Arrive in the village of Victor Harbor for lunch and then board a local tourist vessel for a 90 min custom built power boat cruise taking in shoreline islands and cliffs housing NZ Fur Seal and Australian Sea Lion colonies plus abundant birdlife.
  • Chance sightings of dolphin pods and whales in season are possible.
  • On completion of the cruise you’ll travel 84 kms into Adelaide via the winery haven of McLaren Vale arriving late afternoon / early evening at a Glenelg hotel/motel, sadly but enriched at journey’s end.

Accommodation

Tour completed - ensuite motel rooms at tour base available - tour guest’s option and cost

Meals

Motel restaurant breakfast

Random M/Tea and seaside cafe lunch

Tour concluded - Tour base motel has a restaurant for dinner if desired - tour guest’s option and cost

Travel

Driving: 224 kms in 2 stages throughout the day

Walking: Relaxed roaming at feature stops (plus boat trip)

Best Value Inclusions

  • All accommodation
  • All meals with breakfast, lunch and 2 course dinner with choices
  • Morning and afternoon teas
  • Glass of wine with dinner if you wish
  • Spontaneous travel treats and refreshments
  • Tour transport and naturalist guides
  • All National Park entry fees
  • A number of feature entries and boat cruise
  • Pre-tour briefing and meet ‘n greet function
  • Local guides and guests, as available
  • Informative travel reference kit
  • Use of on-board reference materials and facilities
  • A meaningful tour memento
  • Personalised pre-tour planning advice to maximise your enjoyment of the experience
  • What we don't include:
    • Expenditure of a personal nature
    • Pre and post tour travel and accommodation arrangements
    • Travel and comprehensive contingency insurance

Pricing & Departure Dates

All Inclusive Prices. Loyalty and Group Discounts apply - enquire

2021 Departures

Departs Concludes Early Bird Offer Regular Price
15 May 2021 24 May 2021 $6470 pp / twin share $6770 pp / twin share Book Now
Departs 15 May 2021
Concludes 24 May 2021
Early Bird Offer $6470 pp / twin share
Regular Price $6770 pp / twin share
Book Now

WHAT OUR GUESTS SAY


  • "I so enjoyed my recent outback experience with Nature-Bound, exploring the Big Rivers and inland waterways from source to sea, a wonderful insight into the pioneering history and lifestyle of people in the bush, the land management and climate change issues of today. Many thank yous John and Ros for a most amazing journey so well presented and managed and please keep me in mind for future trips. Good luck with your next trip north to the Alice. I wish I was there."
    Margaret (Australia)

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