Paddlesteamer, Tourism New South Wales

Population 2145

The saying 'back o' Bourke' has come to mean the middle of nowhere, which is why Bourke is known as the gateway to the real outback. Bourke is a prosperous country town in the centre of thriving wool, cotton and citrus areas on the Darling River. It wasn't always so. Charles Sturt described it as 'unlikely to become the haunt of civilised man'. In 1835 Sir Thomas Mitchell came to the area and, thinking that the local Aboriginal people were a great threat, built himself a sturdy fort out of logs. Fort Bourke, as it became known, encouraged permanent settlement. Bourke quickly became a bustling major town, with Henry Lawson describing it as 'the metropolis of great scrubs'.

Visitor Information

Cnr Kidman Way and Anson St; (02) 6872 1321

Nearby national parks

  • Currawinya National Park

    Currawinya National Park, set in rugged mulga country, protects a significant wetland system. There are two large lakes, Numalla and Wyara,...more

Nearby towns

  • Brewarrina

    This charming outback town on the banks of the Barwon River is affectionately known as Bre. It was developed in the 1860s as a river...more

  • Cobar

    Cobar got its name from the Aboriginal word 'kubbur', meaning 'burnt earth'. The story goes that three European settlers were camping at...more

  • Nyngan

    Nyngan is a pleasant country town on the Bogan River, on the edge of the outback. It was largely unknown to the rest of the country until...more

In Town

Back O' Bourke Exhibition Centre This fascinating modern facility is set among river red gums on the Darling River. It tells the story of the river and the outback from the Dreamtime to 100 years into the future. Visitors walk through colourful displays that re-create the past. The centre also looks at the sustainability of agriculture and the social structures of the outback. Kidman Way; (02) 6872 1321.

Old Railway Station: displays of Aboriginal artefacts and local history; Anson St.

Fred Hollows' Grave and Memorial: the eye surgeon and famous humanitarian is buried in the cemetery; Cobar Rd.

Historic wharf replica: reminder of days when Bourke was a busy paddlesteamer port. Take a paddlesteamer ride on the river; Sturt St.

Mateship Country Tours: include historic buildings of Bourke (such as the Carriers Arms Inn, frequented by Henry Lawson) and surrounding citrus and grape farms; bookings at visitor centre.


Gundabooka National Park The park is a woodland haven for wildlife. There are over 130 species of bird, including the endangered pink cockatoo, pied honeyeater and painted honeyeater. Kangaroos, euros and endangered bats also make their homes here. Mt Gundabooka offers great walking tracks and a spectacular lookout. The Ngemba people have a history of ceremonial gatherings in the area and their art can be seen in some caves (to book tours, contact National Parks & Wildlife Service (02) 6872 2744). The park also provides excellent camping and barbecue facilities. 74 km S.

Fort Bourke Stockade replica: memorial to Sir Thomas Mitchell, who built the original fort; 20 km SW.

Mt Oxley: home to wedge-tailed eagles and with views of plains from the summit. A key is needed for access to the mountain (collect from visitor centre); 40 km SE.

Comeroo Camel Station: working sheep and cattle station with artesian spa and outback experiences including a camel-drawn wagon; accommodation available; (02) 6874 7735; 150 km NW.

Cafes & restaurants around town

Morralls Bakery and Cafe

This little Bourke bakery does a roaring trade with a long list of pies available, alongside freshly baked bread. Try the ‘Back-O-Bourke Lamb’ (minted lamb) or the in-house favourite, steak Diane, and you will happily... Find out more

Campsites around town

Kidmans Camp 5 km

This is a neat and friendly caravan park in North Bourke, not far from the famed Darling River. It’s got a swimming pool, which is heavenly in the high heat of summer, as well as powered and unpowered tent sites,... Find out more

Mays Bend camping area 8 km

Gaze across the Darling River to towering red gums at this spot, just 11 km north of North Bourke. Facilities are non-existent, but it’s quiet and beautiful, and you can fish, paddle, or go for a swim if you... Find out more

Mount Oxley camping area 30 km

Mt Oxley is a tabletop mountain with spectacular views over the broad and sunburnt plains surrounding Bourke. This camping area is on private property; to get here, follow the road to Brewarrina for 28 km and take the... Find out more

Yanda camping area 36 km

Camp right on the Darling River at this newly established site on the north-western side of Louth Rd. From Bourke, head south along the Kidman Way and turn right onto Louth Rd. Follow the road about 45 km and watch for a... Find out more

Dry Tank camping area 53 km

Follow Kidman Way 50 km south of Bourke and turn right onto the main park road; alternatively, turn onto East Toorale Rd 10 km south of Bourke and follow the signs. There’s a 2.4 km walk from here leading to a... Find out more

4 Mile camping area 94 km

At 4 miles, or approximately 6.5 km, east of Brewarrina along Coolabah Rd, this is a top spot for fishing and swimming in the Barwon River. You’ll be joining a tradition stretching back thousands of years –... Find out more

Caravan parks around town

Mitchell Caravan Park

This caravan park is located in a quiet, off-highway position about 1 km from the town centre. It has modern, clean amenities and good basic facilities. It is an ideal base for those exploring Bourke. Bookings are... Find out more

Kidmans Camp 5 km

Located 8 km north of town, this spacious riverfront park has plenty of lawn and lots of shade. The park is in a quiet, out-of-town location backing onto the Darling River.... Find out more

Hotels, motels & B&Bs around town

Bourke Riverside Motel

The name of this four-and-a-half star motel should include the word ‘oasis’. The original Telegraph Hotel (c. 1875) has been transformed and boasts stunning heritage suites. The luxurious rooms have... Find out more

Kidmans Camp

Since 1998, owners Peter and Tracey Simmonds have developed a prestigious riverside camping and caravan park at Kidmans Camp. Their bronco riding and rodeo connections are evident in the rustic feel of the 18 cabins,... Find out more

Rest areas around town

Latoka rest area 20 km

57km NW of Byrock (L) or 21km SE of Bourke (R)

Just off the highway among a few trees.

Tuncoona rest area 57 km

65km N of Bourke (L) or 71km S of Barringun (R)

Well off the highway among the trees.

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