All you need to know to camp along the Darling River Run

The Darling River Run is up there on our favourite roadtrips in Australia! There’s national parks, station stays and old pubs… all along The Baaka or Darling River. The New South Wales route is steeped in history, indigenous heritage, paddleboats, bushrangers, bush poets and stations that were once one million acres! 

Here are our best tips for planning and tackling the Darling River Run…

What is the DRR? 

The Darling River Run follows the ever winding course of Australia’s second largest river.

Where is the DRR? 

You’ll find it in outback New South Wales. 

Where does the DRR start?

The river forms west of Brewarrina when the Barwon River meets the Culgoa River. It is possible to see the exact location from the northern side – but it may not be accessible, depending on weather conditions. Unfortunately, for us it wasn’t!  

Where does the DRR end?

The Baaka travels all the way to Wentworth, NSW. Here this magnificent river feeds into the Mighty Murray River at Junction Island. 

How long is the DRR?

You are looking at about 1000km, more when you add in some side routes, and you’ll likely want to include them! 

How many days to allocate? 

You will want at least one week, depending on how many side trips. We ended up spending 18 days, but that included time in Walgett and Broken Hill. In fact, the Baaka slowed us down! 

Before we travelled west of Bourke, and again around Louth, we had to wait for roads to open after rainy conditions. However, it meant we savoured our time, and enjoyed more of the station stays as we travelled along. 

Best time of year?

The Baaka or Barka really has a mind of its own. Although March to October is recommended, and some Stations are only open during the busy season – you still need to keep abreast of weather and road conditions. They change so quickly after rain. 

In addition, the DRR spans several councils, which did make it a little difficult sourcing road information. Start with Central Darling Council updates or call Information Centres for the latest. 

What is the road like??

More challenging in the past, surfaces are well maintained, and we were surprised how much of it was sealed. It is isolated, though so you do need to be well prepared. The road is graded as all-wheel drive, however it is a popular “easy” route for 4WDing lovers. As always check conditions reports. 

Can I bring my pets?

Many of the stations and free camps are pet friendly. If you still want to experience the national parks, do you research as to which campgrounds have options for your dogs or cats. 

East or west side of the river?

The quick answer is both! The road is closer to the river on the east side. We’ll provide our Darling River Run itinerary (note though that we couldn’t access the whole run due to flooding). When you travel between Bourke and Wilcannia you can opt for either side of the river – there are different attractions on either side. At Louth and Tilpa you can cross bridges or backtrack to see more. 

What are the towns on the DRR?


(Technically, the first two are before the DRR, but you’ll want to include them!) 

What side trips can you see/do on the DRR?

We started with a trip to Lightning Ridge/ Hebel and Goodooga (great if you love hot springs) or if travelling from/to Queensland Nindigully Pub, Thallon and St George are fun. 

Loving rivers as we do, we also made time for the Culgoa River National Parks that span both NSW and QLD. It is also fun to start at the Head of the Condamine near Killarney, QLD. 

Once you are on the GRR, common side trips are to White Cliffs, or Kinchega, Mutawintji and Mungo National Parks. Unfortunately, our bookings were cancelled for the last two, and we couldn’t access some other highlights – so it is great to have some alternatives up your sleeve! 

We also camped at Broken Hill for a night to meet friends for our Menindee Lakes section of the DRR. Once you are at the end, we would recommend some time in Mildura on the Murray river – and stop for local produce and eateries!

Discover more fabulous roadtrips like The Darling River Run, as well as camps and caravan parks throughout Australia in the FREE updated CAMPS 12 guide booksCAMPS Pendium boxed set and CAMPS AUSTRALIA WIDE App.

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