The Darling River and Murray –Darling Basin
The Darling River meanders its’ way from the Queensland border through western NSW and flows into the Murray River at Wentworth on the Victorian border. The Murray–Darling Basin is Australia’s largest and most iconic river system, and is one of the biggest systems in the world. The Murray–Darling Basin is Australia’s most productive agricultural region and produces over one-third of the national food supply.Three quarters of Australia’s irrigated crops and pastures are grown in the Basin and is referred to as the “food basket”.
In the later 19th century the Darling River became a major transportation route, the pastoralists of western New South Wales using it to send their wool by shallow-draft paddle steamer from busy river ports such as Bourke and Wilcannia to the South Australian railheads at Morgan and Murray Bridge.
Bourke Shire is located in north western NSW, 750 kilometres by road from Sydney, and covers an area of over 40,000 km sq. The township of Bourke sits at the junction of three highways, the Kidman Way, Mitchell Highway and Kamilaroi Highway. The Darling River flows through the centre of the Bourke township.
The Shire’s main industries include cotton, soft fruit, citrus, cattle production, irrigated wheat, rangeland goat and kangaroo harvesting, and of course the wool industry, part of the Bourke area since the 1860s.