After a thoroughly enjoyable couple of days in Lightning Ridge we packed up and headed off to Bourke. We decided to take a dirt backroad that runs between Cumbora and Brewarrina instead of taking the highway to Walgett and then across to Brewarrina. It was quite possibly the roughest road we have been on in a long while so it was a bit of an experience. But it did show us just how well the BT-50 tows in any conditions.
We stopping for a quick bite to eat at the front of the Visitors Information Centre in Brewarrina. It was rather sad to see that this lovely little town has nothing much left in it. For a Friday afternoon, there were hardly any shops that appeared to be open or even still in existence and only a very few people around. The public toilets at the entrance to the parking area were covered in graffiti and did not look particularly clean. However there were lovely clean toilets inside the Visitors Centre and friendly staff there who knew a lot about the area.
Arriving in Bourke we headed out to Kidman’s Camp, a newish caravan and camping ground about eight kilometres out of Bourke. I had stumbled across their website one day and thought that it looked like a pretty good place to stay. And I was right! It would easily be one of the best places that we have stayed in over the last couple of years. We were able to pick any site we wanted so we chose one down in the back area, close to the camp kitchen and amenities block.
There are a variety of sites to choose from. Most are powered, although there are plenty of un-powered sites too. There were also some smaller drive – thru sites suitable for camper vans as well as some lovely looking cabins. There are plenty of trees around and lots of lovely green grass. The amenities block was large with plenty of showers and toilets and was also very clean. There is also a fantastic pool area with two pools, plenty of shade and a BBQ. The water was still warm enough for the kids to have a quick swim.
The camp kitchen at the end of the amenities block was very spacious and included two good sized barbeques in an undercover area. Inside were two large tables and chairs, a microwave, jug, toaster, 2 sets of hotplates, 2 fridges, 2 sinks and plenty of cooking pots. It was a great spot to sit and have a drink whilst dinner was cooking and chat with our fellow travellers. It really is interesting finding out where people are from, where they’ve been and where they’re going to next.
Sunday morning we headed off to the Back O’ Bourke Exhibition Centre. This is a really excellent place to visit and is very well set out. Housed in 3 separate buildings and joined together by walkways that wind through natural bush style gardens, the exhibition centre tells the story of Bourke. It’s pioneers, it’s innovators and its history. It is part museum, part art gallery and part info centre. We spent a good couple of hours wandering through the centre and finished off with a milk shake in the coffee shop at the end.
JANDRA PADDLE BOAT
After lunch it was time for a cruise on the Darling River on the Jandra Paddle Boat. The Jandra is moored just at the back of Kidman’s Camp. It is a replica paddle boat built locally in 2000 and modelled off the original PV Jandra of the 1800’s. The Darling River was used extensively during the 1800’s and early 1900’s to transport goods up and down the river. The river boat captains were always on a schedule as they could get stuck up river for years if they ran out of water. The river was also prone to flooding as flood waters travelled down from outback Queensland.
The cruise lasted for about an hour. The Jandra captain gave an extremely informative commentary on the history of the area and paddle boats. It was a most enjoyable way to spend an afternoon and I would recommend it to anyone visiting the area. There is plenty more to do in Bourke and we will definitely be going back there again.