Balonne & Culgoa Rivers
Past the black stump and literally out the Back o' Bourke.
This Australian iconic river is formed by the merging of the Barwon and Culgoa Rivers.
As the river is fed by multiple basins in the upper Murray-Darling Basin, flow is more consistent than the other upstream rivers of the system. However, the river has recently run dry for months and even years at a time, making it effectively impassable by boat in many sections.
While some reports suggest that a flow as low as 20 ML/day is enough to traverse the river, a minimal flow of 100 ML/day or 200 ML/day is more realistic. Above 400 ML/day, the trip will be much more enjoyable and personally I would prefer 800 ML/day. Minor flood conditions provide a fantastic and memorable trip, but be careful as some "shortcuts" are actually distributaries!
Carefully assess the flow and speed of the water through the system before any trip. See the planning page for more details.
The character of the river instantly changes as you enter the Darling. It now has all of the characteristics of a major inland perennial river with broad waters and high banks.
The Darling is most commonly started from Brewarrina (Bre for short) that is 121 km above the head of the river, a 205 km trip to Bourke.
Walgett is the next major town upstream of Bre on the Barwon River, accessible with a 5 km paddle up the Namoi River. Walgett is 407 km above the head of the Darling, and 491 km from Bourke.
The old wharf is a popular spot for kids swimming in the hotter months and the grey nomads in the cooler months.
It is only a short walk to the IGA, with a SPAR store a bit further away. Some crime issues in town.
Shindy's Inn (02 6874 7422) is a pub that serves as a cafe and store. They stock basic supplies and you could possibly be able to organise a food run beforehand.
An IGA in town (the Friendly Grocer 08 8091 5989). There are apparently petty crime issues so keep a watch on your gear. (RK).
In normal flows, water is diverted into Menindee Lakes via Lake Pamamaroo that feeds both Lake Menindee and Lake Cawndilla. A small envirnomental flow is released from Lake Menindee that feeds the lower Darling.
The reach from Weir 32 reaches Main Weir making this section from Lake Wetherell traverable even in no flow conditions.
Darling River Friendly Grocer (08 8091 4288) in town for supplies.
Port Pitstop Pooncarie Fuel Stop (03 5029 5267) is the only general store and fuel.
Ellerslie is a small citrus-growing community. Likely no shops etc.
Final stop before joining the waters of the Murray.