The Darling-Baaka River (Baaka or Barka) is one of the most iconic rivers in Australia - approximately 1,500 kilometres from its upper catchments to its confluence with the Murray at Wentworth – and it runs right through the Back O’ Bourke.
The thing about rivers (if you‘re doing it right) is that you don’t measure them with something like ‘kilometres’. Instead, rivers are measured by peacefulness, relief, comfort, and relaxation. They can be calculated through stories and tallied by experiences, but they can’t be explained in numbers, at least not in ways that mean anything.
In this way, the Darling-Baaka River is the Back O’ Bourke because all stories and experiences point back to it one way or another. You may get dusty in an opal mine, or try out the red dirt trails, but you will always want to get to (or get back to) the river at some point.
The Darling-Baaka River begins at the confluence of the Culgoa and Barwon Rivers, roughly halfway between Brewarrina and Bourke, and meanders for approximately 1600km down to Wentworth, where it joins the Murray River.
Most water that fills the river falls in the three catchment areas known as the Condamine-Balonne, the Warrego, and the Paroo catchments. In this way, the Darling-Barka is a vast funnel flowing through western NSW.
But it’s not just the water that gets funnelled along the narrow course of the floodplain. That’s also where all the activity is concentrated, with the wildlife, birds, and people all finding their homes in the fertile soil. Where there are people, there are stories, so make sure you take the time to hear them – this means finding a seat in one of the many little hotels dotted around the region, staying a night at one of the many riverside stations stays, or just catching up with other travellers at the numerous campsites and recreational areas.