No trip to outback NSW would be complete without a visit to Menindee. It is a fantastic area to explore and as we discovered their are plenty of things to do in Menindee and the surrounding area. It’s the perfect spot to visit either on the way to or from Broken Hill.
Menindee is located about 114 kilometres south-east of Broken Hill. It was the first town to be established on the Darling River back in 1852 and is the oldest European settlement in western NSW.
Menindee is perhaps best know for it’s 80 kilometre long chain of natural floodplain lakes. These lakes only fill when the Darling River breaks its banks with floodwater. Some of these lake have been partially modified for water storage with a system of weirs, channels and levees.
Menindee Lakes is the largest of the numerous lakes, with Lake Pamamaroo, Lake Cawndilla and Lake Tandou all holding considerable amounts of water when full. However to find all of these lakes full of water is a very rare sight.
At the time of our visit, (Sept 2020) Menindee Lakes had not had water in it for seven years! However Lake Pamamaroo did have lots of water in it and it was a wonderful sight to see. When the lakes do have water in them, the area teems with bird life. We saw pelicans, the cleanest seagulls we’ve ever seen – they were snow white – and some that we thought were possibly terns. Either way, it was fantastic to see so much bird life in the area.
Everynight we were treated to absolutely stunning sunsets. They were some of the best we’ve ever witnessed.
KINCHEGA NATIONAL PARK
When you visit Kinchega National Park you take a step back in time to our early pioneering days. Once the site of the impressive Kinchega Homestead which was occupied from the 1850’s until it’s abandonment in 1956 after it was inundated by floods. Now all that remains are some bricks and a few sheets of iron. To help preserve the site, a boardwalk has been built around the remains of the homestead. It’s an interesting look at how harsh life would have been in those days.
Also located within the National Park is the Kinchega Woolshed. Originally built in 1875 it could at one time accommodate 64 shearers which is a staggering number by todays standards. It was probably built in two sections but today only the eastern section remains. Along with shearers quarters, classers quarters and cook house, it would have been a hive of activity in it’s day. These days, you can stay overnight in the shearers quarters or camp out in one of several camping areas located throughout the park.
DARLING RIVER DRIVE
Following the Darling River Drive is a great way to see the rest of Kinchega. Winding it’s way along the Darling River and in the shadows of giant river red gums, there are plenty of spots to stop and explore the river or enjoy a picnic, as well as plenty of camping spots.
You will also discover the remnants of the paddle steamer PS Providence, whose boiler exploded in and 1872 accident. Today the rusted boiler is all that remains.
Another interesting part of the history of Menindee is the fact that our early explorers Burke and Wills passed through the area and camped on the banks of the Darling River in 1860. Whilst Burke continued on to Coopers Creek, the rest of his party camped at Menindee for a little over three months.
Other historic sites around Menindee include the grave of one of Burke & Wills’ cameleers, Dost Mohomet who stayed in Menindee after the expedition was complete. It is also worth checking out the railway bridge over the Darling River. Built in 1927, it was at one stage a shared bridge with both trains and vehicles using the bridge. It was also built with a counterweight to allow it to be opened for paddle steamers to pass underneath.
WHERE TO STAY
We decided to stay at Copi Hollow Caravan Park as it had by far the best reviews on WikiCamps. And we were so pleased we did. It’s an awesome spot right on the smaller Copi Hollow lake. The front of the park is taken up by holiday vans and units, with the prime water front sites reserved for us caravanners!
No doubt during holidays, the park gets very busy, but during our stay there were only a few other vans around. We loved our water front spot and it was the perfect spot to watch the stunning sunsets each afternoon and enjoy happy hour!