Great Australian Rivers Tour

  • Photo Friendly
  • 9 Days
  • Up to 7 People
  • All Weather

Travelling the Darling and Murray Rivers

Following our greatest river systems and discovering delicious food and wine, wildlife, historic townships and pristine conservation parks along the way and sleeping in a luxury houseboat are key feature of our Great Rivers Tour.

Stretching from Lightning Ridge, in New South Wales’ north, to Lake Alexandrina, Lake Albert and the world-renowned Coorong National Park in the South Australia, this diverse region showcases some of Australia’s iconic landscapes, picturesque river ports, historic outback communities, spectacular nationally and internationally-listed national parks and conservation reserves, important Aboriginal sites, abundant wildlife and productive farming land. Citrus, stone fruit, olives, honey, dates, almonds, wheat, cotton, grains, yabbies, sheep, cattle and vineyards are grown or raised along this route. We will be making stops to taste the local produce or sample the wines at well-established vineyards, or perhaps we’ll stop at one of the small craft brewers to see how they are getting on.

These rivers are long, very long. We will travel down the Darling River and join the Murray River at Wentworth. Then along the Murray River through South Australia to the mouth of the river at The Coorong. The combined Darling and Murray River is 2,844km long from its longest tributaries in the Darling Downs of Queensland state. Our tour is only 2,600km long which takes a minimum of 8 days but we recommend allowing a couple of extra days to travel more slowly, have a rest day or to undertake more activities along the way. With more time, this tour can incorporate some adventure activities including paddle steamer cruises, kayaking expeditions, hiking and mountain biking trips, birdwatching, fishing or longer tour on a luxury houseboat.

Pressed for time? The Great Rivers Tour can start at Bourke, Menindee (Broken Hill) or Wentworth. This will reduce the number of days of the tour to 7, 5 and 4 respectively. Or combining our Food and Wine Tour with part of the Great Rivers Tour will take between 5 and 6 days minimum. If you are really short on time, or just want to travel the rivers by air, our charter flight tour takes a minimum of 4 days and you will have fantastic views all the way.

Major attractions include the opal mining town of Lightning Ridge, remarkable Mt Oxley, the Aboriginal paintings of Gundabooka National Park, the abundant birdlife at Menindee lakes, taking an Aboriginal guided tour of the World Heritage listed Mungo National Park, visiting Australia’s first Biosphere Reserve, the Morgan Conservation Park (famous for its untouched lagoons, swamps and creek systems), the ochre-coloured cliffs of Ngaut Ngaut Conservation Park and the Coorong National Park (now recognised as a wetland of international significance).

Along the way we will stay at great Outback Bed locations and experience real outback hospitality and home cooked country food featuring fresh farm grown organic produce. Depending on the season we will also experience farm activities and community events. Our accommodation will range from renovated farm quarters to luxury house boats. You can even try sleeping under the stars in a swag laying in front of a camp fire.

FACTS

Where: Starting in northern NSW, follow the Darling and Murray Rivers through New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia states to the Murray mouth at the Southern Ocean.

When: On demand.

Duration: Recommended minimum of 9 days and 8 nights.

Tour Size: Maximum number of participants is 7 plus guide.

Fitness Level: Low to reasonable level of fitness required. Some short hikes and getting on and off river boats.

Best Season: All year round but Spring and Autumn are best with winter also good particularly in the northern sector.

Cost: See appendix or email for more information.

Notes

The driving distances in this tour can be long. The number of days the tour takes can be increased so daily travel is reduced or more rest days are enjoyed. The tour can also be shortened with the omission of some destinations to fit the number of days you have available for your adventure holiday. As an example, the tour could start at Broken Hill or Bourke which would take 2-3 days off the itinerary. Talk to us about customising this tour.

This tour can go in either direction. If starting in Lightning Ridge (or finishing) you can be collected from Dubbo airport or railway station. Allow an additional half day travel and 1 additional night for a transfer from Dubbo to Lightning ridge and an additional fee for transport and accommodation.

This tour is not a round trip. If you wish to return to your starting point with us allow an additional 2 days and 1 night of travel and an additional fee for transport and accommodation.

Trip Itinerary

Day 1
Lightning Ridge
Lightning Ridge is world famous for it Black Opal gemstones. The town is a wonderfully eccentric place. On our day tour of Lightning Ridge and surrounding district we will experience sculptures underground, bottle-houses, antique lamps, castles, astronomy monuments, unique gardens, hills named 'Lunatic', 'Pig' and 'Bald', a pub crawl to 'The Pub in the Srub', 'The Glengarry Hilton' and 'Sheepyard', and even tour underground mines. We will start our tour at 10 am.

Our accommodation is Fossicker’s Cottages: Andrew is an opal miner and Jo is a qualified jeweller/designer, and together they mine black opal and make jewellery. Andrew and Jo are passionate about offering us the most relaxed stay in their cottages.
Day 1
Day 2
Lightning Ridge to Bourke
A 10 am start and our first stop will be Brewarrina. Once an important inter-tribal meeting place for generations of Aboriginal people, Brewarrina is now home to the Brewarrina Aboriginal Cultural Centre. This unique complex overlooks the national and state heritage listed fish traps the purpose-built rock constructions are estimated to be more than 40,000 years old and are believed to be the oldest man-made structures in the world. We will take a 1 hour Aboriginal guided tour of the fish traps before heading on to Bourke.

Our night will be spent at Mt Oxley with Bill and Denise. Rising from a perfectly flat landscape, Mt Oxley has outstanding 360 degree views, and showcases the abundance of wildlife, including wedge-tailed eagles and euros, who inhabit the mountain. This is a great destination for photographers, birdwatchers and bushwalkers. Denise will serve a homemade sunset high tea at the top of the Mt Oxley. Denise and Bill refer to their rustic accommodation as "Authentic Shearer's Hut ... with a bit of sprucing up."
Day 2
Day 3
Bourke to Louth
In the morning we will board the paddle boat PV Jandra on a short morning cruise on the Darling River. Then to the Back O’ Bourke Exhibition Centre. The Centre gives the visitor a window to the past lives of those that lived, worked and played at the Back O' Bourke. The Centre is also the starting point for our Bourke Aboriginal Cultural Tour which will involve a leisurely walk along the Darling River with Aboriginal brothers Jason and Joseph Dixon. In the cooler months there is also an entertaining stockman style show with horses, working dogs and sheep.

Lunch will be at the Back O’Bourke Exhibition Centre. Leaving Bourke we head for Gundabooka National Park for a short hike to the ancient Aboriginal Rock art caves. The park, featuring the rugged Mount Gunderbooka that rises 500m above the park, is of great significance to the local Ngemba Aboriginal people.

Dinner and accommodation will be at Trilby Station on the banks of the Darling River. Staying with Liz and Garry Murray on their historic 6th generation, 320,000 acre sheep and goat station. Liz and Gary are passionate about their outback way of life and enjoy sharing their experiences and lifestyle with visitors to the station.
Day 3
Day 4
Louth to Menindee
Recapture the spirit of the wide, open spaces as we navigate their 'mud map' tours, or relax on the riverbank under the shade of the massive river red gums. We will do a couple of tours here, Liz will take us on a personal tour of the working of Trilby and then we will go to neighbouring Dunlop Station which was so large the the the workers area was more of a village than a farm. In the late morning we will head downstream to the small town of Tilpa.

Cook your yabbies on an open fire and eat them fresh .... walk with the wildlife....smell the bush.... canoe this great river.... In the late morning we will head downstream to the small town of Tilpa. Famous for its classic outback pub, which has been welcoming visitors for over 100 years. Originally a busy port servicing the river trade it was a 'cross-road' in the outback as it served as a stock crossing and port for the wool clip being transported down to Adelaide. Quirky? Tilpa has the shortest heritage trail in Australia comprising just two signs on either side of the main road and the Tilpa cemetery is the only one in Australia with no one in it!

We will have lunch at the Tilpa pub before travelling down the Darling River to Nelia Gaari Station near Menindee. Nelia Gaari is where you are welcome to join in in farm activities. At certain times throughout the year you can watch Greg and Lily when they are shearing, crutching or lamb marking. Experience what goes on at these very busy times on a sheep and cattle station. Nelia Gaari gives you the opportunity to sleep under the stars in a swag in front of a campfire (alternate indoor accommodation is also available). Dinner will be an outback BBQ, enjoy the evening stars, a campfire and some stories around the fire.
Day 4
Day 5
Menindee to Pooncarie (Bindara Station)
We will travel to Menindee and stop at the Menindee lakes system for a 1 hour cruise on the River Lady. The bird life on the lakes is phenomenal. After the cruise we will have a picnic lunch in Menindee or possibly at Kinchega National Park including a visit to the historic wool shed, before will journey on to Bindara Station.

Historic Bindara Station is located on the banks on the Darling River. The beautiful and historic homestead, outbuildings, and cemetery are a living history that we can explore. The area abounds in wildlife. An important part of the station experience is to observe the day to day running of the property. Bindara encourages you to share their lifestyle and gain a taste of the real outback. The farm is "off grid" with emphasis on using eco technology; the property is powered with a combination of solar, wind, gas and bio diesel. You will stay in the property’s farm cottages.
Day 5
Day 6
POONCARIE TO WILKADENE
After your full breakfast featuring farm meats and organic farm produce grown on Bindara Station we will take a guided farm tour exploring the over 8 km of river country which forms the boundary of Bindara Station. Bindara is a natural haven for three species of kangaroos, emus, echidnas, turtles and many reptiles including lizards and snakes. Your tour will also take you to European history and Indigenous cultural points of interest. Today we travel via Pooncarie to Wentworth. Wentworth is where the Darling River joins the Murray River.

Lunch will be on the river bank. It is a short drive to the regional city of Mildura where we will take a two hour PS Melbourne paddle steamer cruise on the Murray River. After the cruise we will head on to Wilkadene for 2 nights on a luxury houseboat. Located on a picturesque backwater of the Murray River, Wilkadene Station is home to the Woolshed Brewery and luxury 5 star houseboats. Sleep on board and in the day tour the river, swim, read, rest and visit the craft brewery for some sunset ales.
Day 6
Day 7
WILKADENE MURRAY RIVER HOUSEBOAT
A rest day. Spend all day on the houseboat. Take a leisurely cruise along the Murray River past spectacular ochre red cliffs, long white sandbars, river red gum forests and fascinating wetlands. Or stay where you are, read a book, swim in the river and take an afternoon nap. A free day for you to do as you please. Pull in at the 100 year old Woolshed Brewery for a drink and lunch overlooking the river.

Joint owner and head brewer Tom will give us a private tour of Wilkadene as well as a special tasting of his brews.
Day 7
Day 8
WILKADENE TO THE MURRAY MOUTH
After disembarking the houseboat we will head to the Banrock Station wetland and enjoy the 8km walk around this internationally significant wetland and globally recognised wetland centre (shorter walks are available). After Banrock Station and Wine Centre we will follow the Murray down to the historic port of Morgan. Lunch will be overlooking the Morgan riverfront development or at a winery along the way (depending on the day of the week, the weather and time taken to complete the hike).

After lunch we will continue to follow the Murray through the picturesque town of Mannum and onto the lower Murray Lakes where we will stay overnight and enjoy our last dinner together.
Day 8
Adelaide City
Day 9
MURRAY MOUTH TO ADELAIDE
This morning will be a short drive to Goolwa for a cruise on the Coorong and lower lakes to the end of the rivers at Murray River mouth. Our cruise will take about 3.5 hours and include lunch. We will cruise through the Coorong National Park visiting ancient Aboriginal midden sites and learn about the local Aboriginal culture, hear stories of the Riverboat days and pass through scenery immortalised by the movie Storm Boy. The cruise will also include a walk over the sand dunes to the ocean and river mouth.

After the cruise we will return to Adelaide for drop off at your hotel in the late afternoon.

Note that the lunch cruise does not depart every day. If our arrival occurs on a non departure day an alternate cruise and lunch at a winery will be provided.
Day 9

Upcoming International Tours

The Great South African Sardine Run

July 10th – 18th 2020

Japanese Temple, Mountain Forest & Food Tour

October 27th – November 2nd 2020

Upcoming Tours

june, 2021

All Australian tours are “on demand” tours but look for our specials on our blog page.

Have any questions?

Feel free to reach out and we're happy to answer any questions you may have.

Longer Tour Variations

WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND ADDING AT LEAST ONE OF THESE GREAT OPTIONS:

Want to travel at a slower pace? incorporate a rest day? or spend more days doing your favourite activities? or perhaps shorter days involving less driving? Here are some suggestions but there are endless opportunities. Lets us know your timeframes and interests and we can design a tour just for you.

Additional 2 days (1 night)

Leaving Bindara Station we will travel on to Pooncarie for lunch at the old wharf on the Darling River before driving onto Mungo world heritage national park. At Mungo we will walk with an experienced National Parks Aboriginal Discovery guide back in time on the famous Walls of China. These sites have immense cultural significance. You’ll be welcomed to Country and learn about the 40,000-plus years of Aboriginal cultural history of Lake Mungo and the Traditional Owners. You’ll also hear about about Willandra Lakes.

For the night we travel to beautiful Lake Paika Station is one of the oldest properties in the area. In 1899, Lake Paika & Paika Creek became the site of Australia’s first environmental movement to protect a wetland. Lake Paika is nestled on a peninsula of Lake Paika. This 450ha natural wetland, recently reinstated after more than a 100 years of being “stranded” from its Murrumbidgee River. Improved biodiversity of wildlife and vegetation regeneration has already occurred in response to watering. Take a step back in time, unwind, relax and enjoy unique accommodation in the restored self-contained workmans’ quarters. Di at Lake Paika is a great cook, we will have dinner out doors overlooking the lake with a campfire in cooler months to keep us warm.

  • Transport in a luxury 8 seater vehicle.
  • Guides.
  • Accommodation.
  • All meals unless specified on a free-time day including winery luncheon.
  • Water and water bottles.
  • Entrance fees where applicable.

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