Kinchega National Park
An hour’s drive from Broken Hill in the state’s far west, Kinchega National Park is an outback vision splendid, where red and sunburnt plains meet the iconic Darling River and the immense Menindee Lake system. For several years after a flood event, the lakes are vast mirrors reflecting sprawling river red gums, thriving birdlife, brazen blue skies and heart-stopping sunrises and sunsets.
Menindee Lakes are a system of ephemeral freshwater lakes fed by floodwater from the Darling River. The four largest lakes comprise the Menindee Lakes Water Storage Scheme, and two of these – Cawndilla and Menindee – are within the national park.
Spring and autumn
113 km south-east of Broken Hill; 630 km north-east of Adelaide
Location and access
From Broken Hill via Menindee–Broken Hill Rd; from Wentworth via Wentworth–Pooncarie Rd
NSWNPWS Broken Hill (08) 8080 3200
Park day pass required per vehicle for day visitors; camping permit required per vehicle per day
44 259 ha
Menindee (08) 8091 4274
Broken Hill (08) 8080 3560
Featured Activities in the National Park
Have a cuppa billy tea and a yarn with a Paakantji Aboriginal elder
Throw a line into the Darling River and catch some dinner
Tread the boards at the Kinchega woolshed and imagine the life of the early pastoralists
A look at the past
The first Europeans to make contact with this region were explorers Sir Thomas Mitchell in 1835, Charles Sturt in 1844 and Burke and Wills in 1860–61. Kinchega Station was one of the first pastoral leases to be taken up west of the Darling River in the 1850s and 1860s. Many relics of this fascinating era can be found in the national park, including the woolshed (now restored) and remnants of the old Kinchega homestead. The Menindee Lakes Water Storage Scheme was completed in the 1960s, and Kinchega National Park was gazetted in 1967.
The region’s traditional owners, the Paakantji people, occupied the region for tens of thousands of years before European contact. Numerous Aboriginal sites have already been recorded in the park, including shell middens, burial grounds and earth ovens. The close association of the Paakantji people to their country continues into the present day in the form of joint management of Kinchega National Park by NPWS and the Menindee Aboriginal Elders Council.
Kinchega National Park is part arid and part river country. When the lakes are full, the region is a riot of birdlife; as the water recedes, it is replaced by a carpet of green grazed by emus and kangaroos. Huge river red gums stand sentinel over the river banks and flood plains. Move away from the river and its flood plains and you’ll find yourself among sand plains and dune fields, characterised by that quintessentially outback red soil.
More than 450 plant species have been recorded in Kinchega National Park. From the imposing river red gums and coolabahs to the dainty purple Darling pea and Darling lily, and the stout, bristly wattle and bluebush, there’s plenty to keep the nature lover occupied. If you’re lucky enough to pay a visit after soaking rains, you’ll see a colourful carpet of poached egg daisies, sunrays and groundsels.
Kinchega National Park is home to eight amphibian, 103 bird, 17 mammal and 40 reptile species. When full, the lakes provide vital habitat for a range of waterbirds. The boom times also give rise to huge, screeching flocks of galahs, budgerigars and cockatoos. In warmer months you might see a red kangaroo or wallaroo snoozing under a coolibah, or a sand monitor or bearded dragon basking in the sun. Observant campers may catch sight of a small marsupial mammal, such as a planigale or the endangered kultarr, in the midst of its night-time foraging.
Guided Discovery tours run during school holidays in Easter, winter and spring school holidays. These include ranger talks, billy tea with Paakantji Aboriginal elders and tours of the old Kinchega homestead.
The most coveted fishing spot in the park is below Weir 32 on the Darling River. Your catch of the day could be European carp, golden perch, Murray cod or silver perch. You’ll need a license to throw a line in, and be aware of relevant regulations pertaining to bag limits and species.
There are three self-guided drives to do in the park. The River Drive winds through the river red gum woodlands on the banks of the Darling River; the Lake Drive takes in lakes Menindee and Cawndilla; and the Woolshed Drive heads out to the historic Kinchega Woolshed as well as the old Kinchega homestead and cemetery.
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