Bourke - it often seems to me, that the further you travel away from the cities, the closer you get to the past. To be drawn where the poets Henry Lawson and Breaker Morant were drawn - to the back of Bourke. Many of the roads have seen little change in 150 years; the vegetation and wildlife is often ‘as they would have seen it’.
You will be reminded of the difficulties of the early explorers and of the Cobb & Co. coaching days when a trip from Bathurst to Bourke took three weeks and not six hours.
Tour 1 - 275 km. Rock Holes, Coaching Trails and the Bogan River.
Commencing at Bourke take the Mitchell Highway to Byrock. After exploring Byrock take the unsealed road to Gongolgon. Travel back to Bourke via Mt Oxley.
Tour 2 - 328 km. Coach roads, Fish Traps and the Barwon River.
Travel from Bourke to Byrock and Gongolgon as for tour 1. Approximately 21km NW of Gongolgon take the right hand turn at the Charlton Station crossing. Travel to Brewarrina to visit the Fish Traps before returning to Bourke along the Kamilaroi Highway.
1. Mulga Creek
The Mitchell Highway runs in a straight line parallel to the railway line. In the days of Cobb & Co. the road followed Mulga Creek. Remnants of the pise homesteads that serves as regular coach stops for mail and passengers remain on local properties Kenilworth and Mullagallah.
2. Byrock Water Hole
The ancient Rock Hole at Byrock is an historic water source important to the traditions of the Aboriginal people, and much later the cameleers and coach drivers. The first Byrock Hotel and Cobb & Co. changing station were located near the rock hole. Call in at the present day Mulga Creek Hotel or the Mulga Market for refreshments before taking the unsealed road to Gongolgon. The first 18 km travels along the same line of road that the mail coaches took 120 years ago when travelling from Byrock to Tarcoon and Brewarrina.
Once the site of a thriving village located on the Bogan River, Gongolgon reflects the past with the ruins of the Chinese shed - a reminder of the Chinese market gardeners and the Afghan traders who distributed the produce throughout the district.
Look for the relics of the town of Tarcoon. Following the construction of the railway line to Brewarrina the town of Tarcoon flourished and then faded.
5. Charlton Station
The site of a river crossing was generally the location of a hotel and coach changing station. Remnants of the 19th century stables and buildings survive at Charlton Station, amidst the mulga scrub near the Bogan River crossing. Pink Hills on the road to Bourke was also the site of a Cobb & Co. hotel known as the Red House.
6. Mount Oxley
Detour to visit Mount Oxley and enjoy the same views that the early explorer Captain Charles Sturt did in 1828. A Cobb & Co. changing station located at the base of the mountain was known as the Mountain House.
The fish traps and museums make a worthwhile visit. As there are three crossings on the road from Charlton Station it is recommended that advice on road conditions be sought before embarking on this trip.
8. Back to Bourke
Travelling back to Bourke along the Kamilaroi Highway, you will pass Beemery. This property was the site of the Half Way house - a coaching stop for travellers to the outback. The site predates the town of Bourke.
Charlton Station Stables
Byrock Water Hole
Check with the Bourke Visitors Centre for road conditions, as many of the area’s roads are unsealed and may require 4WD access. Remember to take special care when travelling at dusk, as kangaroos and emus can sometimes be present in large numbers.