Darling River drive

Toorale National Park

Closed due to current alerts 

Overview

Darling River drive showcases the natural beauty of meandering Darling River as well as Toorale National Park and State Conservation Area – perfect for 4WD adventurers and independent travellers.

Where
Toorale National Park
Distance
41km loop
Time suggested
1hr 30min
Grade
Medium
What to
bring
Drinking water
Please note
  • Remember to take your binoculars if you want to go birdwatching.
  • The weather in the area can be extreme and unpredictable, so please ensure you’re well-prepared for your visit. Check the weather before you set out as the road to Toorale National Park can become impassable when it rains.
  • This park or attraction is in a remote location, so please ensure you’re well-prepared, bring appropriate clothing and equipment and advise a family member or friend of your travel plans.
  • Ensure you bring plenty of water for drinking and cooking.
  • There is limited/no mobile reception in this park.
  • Please respect the wishes of Kurnu-Baakandji People by protecting the natural and cultural features of the park.

Whether you know this scenic car touring circuit as Darling River drive or Yuthuru Paaka Thuru, the expanse of floodplain is just as awe-inspiring. After rain, the waterways come to life, providing excellent opportunities to go fishing and catch yellow belly and cod. You’ll travel through coolabah woodlands interspersed with lush wetlands, ideal for birdwatching, so pack your binoculars and look out for kookaburras calling the area home.

Enjoy a relaxing picnic or camp overnight and enjoy the vast star-filled sky as it fills with stars. In spring, masses of tiny white sunray daisies appear, and after the rains you’ll be treated to colourful wildflower displays of pigweed, native peas and bluebells.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

Darling River Drive - overview map

Darling River Drive - overview map

Map legend

Map legend

Current alerts in this area

There are no current alerts in this area.

Local alerts

For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/driving-routes/darling-river-drive/local-alerts

General enquiries

Park info

  • in Toorale National Park in the Outback NSW region
  • Toorale National Park and SCA is always open, but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Darling River drive.

Getting there and parking

Darling River drive is in Toorale National Park. To get there:

From Bourke:

  • Travel 10.5km north from Bourke on Hungerford Road
  • Continue for 21.5km and turn left at the sign to Louth, onto unsealed Toorale Road (Rural Local Road 10).
  • Drive for 38km and, after crossing a stock grid, you’ll see a Toorale entrance sign. 1km from the park entrance, turn left onto Darling River Drive.

From Louth:

  • Cross the bridge over Darling River and travel 52km on unsealed Toorale Road (Rural Local Road 10) through the park entrance, and then turn right onto Darling River Drive.

Road quality

  • Unsealed roads

Vehicle access

  • All roads require 4WD vehicle

Parking

Parking is available along Darling River drive, as well as at the Darling River campgrounds.

Best times to visit

You may experience a great range of temperatures on any day in the park. In summer it's generally hot in the daytime and temperatures often exceed 30C. In contrast, winter can be very cold and the temperature drops below freezing at night. Rainfall is also highly variable, ranging from drought to prolonged wet periods. Less rain falls on the western side of the park than on the eastern side. It rains most from December to February and the annual average rainfall is 720mm. Thunderstorms are common in mid to late summer.

Spring

During early spring wildflowers are in bloom, including a huge variety of golden wattle flowers With a more moderate climate, spring is a great time to get out and camp under the stars .

Weather, temperature and rainfall

Summer temperature

Average

15°C and 30°C

Highest recorded

42.6°C

Winter temperature

Average

0°C and 15°C

Lowest recorded

-9°C

Rainfall

Wettest month

January

Driest month

September

The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

176.3mm

Facilities

You’re encouraged to bring gas or fuel stoves, especially in summer during the fire season.

Maps and downloads

Safety messages

Bushwalking safety

If you're keen to head out on a longer walk or a backpack camp, always be prepared. Read these bushwalking safety tips before you set off on a walking adventure in national parks.

  • The area is open country, however it’s essential that vehicles stay on the designated track and follow the reassurance and directional signage.
  • The walking opportunities in this park are suitable for experienced bushwalkers who are comfortable undertaking self-reliant hiking.

Mobile safety

Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency Plus app before you visit, it helps emergency services locate you using your smartphone's GPS. Please note there is limited mobile phone reception in this park and you’ll need mobile reception to call Triple Zero (000).

Outback safety

Safety is of high priority in outback areas. In summer, temperatures can reach up to 50°C in some places. Food, water and fuel supplies can be scarce. Before you head off, check for road closures and use our contacts to stay safe in the outback.

River and lake safety

The aquatic environment around rivers, lakes and lagoons can be unpredictable. If you're visiting these areas, take note of these river and lake safety tips.

  • Strong rips and currents may be present in Darling River, so swimming is not encouraged.

Wildlife safety

Keep an eye out for wildlife when driving at dawn and dusk.

Permitted

Fishing

A current NSW recreational fishing licence is required when fishing in all waters.

Prohibited

Pets

Pets and domestic animals (other than certified assistance animals) are not permitted. Find out which regional parks allow dogs and see the pets in parks policy for more information.

If you're travelling through a national park or reserve on a public road you can have pets inside your vehicle. However, you must keep them inside your vehicle while driving through national parks or reserves. You must also comply with any conditions in the park’s plan of management, and you cannot stop to visit the park or use park facilities (unless for safety reasons, or to use publicly accessible toilets).

Smoking

NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

Learn more

Darling River drive is in Toorale National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

Birdwatching spectacular

Australian pelican. Photo: Rob Cleary

After the rains, the vast natural floodplain springs to life and the wetlands bring an abundance of birdlife. A fabulous spot for birdwatching, bring your binoculars for the chance to see the iconic brolga, pink cockatoo, or the wide range of waterbirds such as the Australian pelican, pied cormorant and royal spoonbill.

Inland rivers

Darling River drive, Toorale National Park and State Conservation Area. Photo: Gregory Anderson

Toorale National Park marks the junction of two mighty inland rivers and provides one of only a few opportunities to access the Darling and Warrego rivers. Set up camp on the Darling riverbank, or spend a leisurely day checking out the local wildlife, birdwatching and fishing.

Rich pastoral history

Toorale Homestead precinct, Toorale National Park and State Conservation Area. Photo: Gregory Anderson

A relative newcomer to the national park family, Toorale was purchased in 2008. The large pastoral station and woolshed changed hands many times, and many people have a historic connection to Toorale, including Henry Lawson, who worked on the station for a short period during the 1890s.

  • Toorale Homestead precinct (Yarramarra) Toorale Homestead precinct (Yarramarra) is a must-see for outback travellers near Bourke. Built on the lands of the Kurnu-Baakandji People, Toorale Station was once part of the world’s largest sheep station.

The People of Darling River

Aboriginal Discovery Coordinators at the reconstructed Bourke Wharf on banks of Darling River. Photo: P Nicholas/OEH

This country between the Warrego and Darling rivers is of spiritual and cultural significance to Kurnu-Baakandji People. The name Baakandji comes from the word ‘paaka’, meaning ‘Darling River’, so Baakandji are the People belonging to Darling River. Take a Discovery tour to learn about the culture and heritage of the region as well as local bush tucker such as wild orange, quandongs, wild plum bush, wild bananas and bush tomatoes.

Environments in this park

Education resources (1)