Menindee - Menindee Lakes
Darling River Towns
An iconic Darling River town, an hour southeast of Broken Hill (and Silverton), Menindee is a perfect base to explore the Darling River, the Lakes and one of the best National Parks in Outback NSW, Kinchega National Park.
Discover also that the beautifully penned 'The Man from Snowy River' by Banjo Paterson is an immortal Australian poem there is a line, "There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup".
While many assume it was the famous Melbourne Cup being referred to, it is actually the Presidents Cup held at Menindee.
There is a story to tell and something to learn in most outback towns, and Menindee on the Darling River is no exception.
Steeped in legend and history, Menindee and the surrounding area is of great indigenous significance and European pastoral history. The area is known to the Barkindji people as 'Minandichee' and it is believed this is how the name originated.
The explorer Major Thomas Mitchell followed the Bogan and Darling Rivers down to this area in 1835 and came across the naturally formed lakes which he named 'Laidley's Chain of Ponds', the Barkindji people referred to these as 'Wontanella' meaning 'Many Waters'.
A decade later, explorer Charles Sturt travelled up the Darling River from Wentworth through Menindee on his expedition to find the fabled inland sea.
The coming of the pastoralist and the opening up of the outback meant a violent time of conflict with the Barkindji who were subsequently decimated by European disease, driven from their traditional lands and forced into government missions.
This era saw two horrific massacres of the traditional owners; one via poisoning of leasehold stipulated provisions for the Barkindji people with arsenic by leaseholders and the straight-out slaughter of a tribe on the banks of Boolaboolka Lake.
In 1852, Tom Pain and his family arrived in Menindee and opened up the Menindee Hotel in 1953 and with this and the ability to supply provisions, the town established itself as Darling River Port in light of Captain Francis Cadell, accredited with opening up the Darling, establishing a store next to the Hotel in 1856.
Australia's most famous explorers Burke and Wills passed through Menindee for their Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria expedition. The expedition arrived at Menindee on October 14, 1860, and made camp at Kinchenga Station after crossing the Darling River. A depot camp for the expedition was established at Pamamaroo Creek (a sign and cairn mark the site of the camp). Upon their departure, Burke and Wills carved an arrow in the doorpost of the hotel to indicate the expedition's direction.
Riverboat trade continued to develop the area and plans for a weir to control the flow of the river and level of the lakes to ensure river traded were shelved in the 1890s and by the time the rail-head reached the area in the 1920's the future of the river as a transport route were doomed.
The idea to control the flow of the river came to fruition in 1949 and was completed in 1960 allowing for some retention of water in the naturally formed lakes to maintain some continuity for water supply and irrigation.
The Menindee Lakes originally comprised 9 natural ephemeral lakes covering an area of 453 km2 As a result of the weir, there are 4 major lakes Wetherell (including Lake Tandure), Pamamaroo (connected by a small lake called Copi Hollow), Menindee, and Cawndilla.
For the visitor, there is great fishing on the lakes, the magnificent Kinchega National Park, bird watching on the lakes, Lake Pamamaroo and Main Weir, Copi Hollow, Menindee War Memorials, the 1872 wreck of the paddle-steamer 'Providence', and the self-guided heritage walk around Menindee.
Menindee and the Menindee Lakes, right on the Darling River Run, is one of the best Darling River experiences as it is only 1 hrs drive from Broken Hill (sealed road) and is located on the eastern boundary of Kinchega National Park.