Brewarrina is an outback service town for the region’s cattle and wool farmers. It is also a popular spot for river fishing.
Where is it?: Brewarrina is 98km from Bourke; 830km from Brisbane; 800km from Sydney; 1,100km from Melbourne: 1,230km from rom Adelaide.
Brewarrina’s wide main street, the old style pubs, the easy lifestyle, the beautiful parks by the Darling – Barwon River, the local newspaper produced fortnightly by the local Chamber of Commerce and the historic court house and Anglican Church make it much more than just another country town. Though small, it has a sense of purpose and stability without losing its lazy rural character which hasn’t changed for decades.
Brewarrina has always been one of the major Aboriginal inter-tribal meeting places within the Murray-Darling Basin. The town’s fish traps, known in the Aboriginal language as Ngunnhu, are purpose-built rock constructions on the Barwon-Darling River forming a network of mazes that enabled the corralling and catching of fish. It is understood that the traps sustained several thousand Aboriginal people during tribal gatherings held prior to European settlement. Estimated to have existed for over 40,000 years, the traps are believed to be the oldest man-made structure on earth. The system that exists today is an authentic restoration; much of what existed at the time of European settlement was unfortunately removed to allow the early river-boats to travel further upstream.
Brewarrina was settled by Europeans in the 1840s who, by the 1860s, realised that it was primarily the furthest point that river boats could reliably travel up the Darling River. As such, Brewarrina became an important port for settlers wishing to transport their produce via the Darling and Murray rivers to the major shipping ports of Adelaide and Melbourne.
Today, Brewarrina is quiet and peaceful with some particularly attractive and historic buildings including Christ Church and the excellent suspension bridge. The fish traps provide the visitor with an insight to how the waterways were managed by the Indigenous Australians. This connectivity to the river and the land is continued down the Darling River in different ways, in different ‘countries’, by different groups.
Aboriginal Cultural Museum
Located at the corner of Bathurst and Darling Sts, the Museum seeks to represent the stories of the local Aboriginal people through a range of displays. The Dreamtime Theatre looks at local legends and stories, there is a large photographic display dating back to the 19th century, a mission display which indicates what life was like on an Aboriginal Mission (complete with original furnishings), a stone and wooden artifact display, and a shop selling souvenirs, gifts and artifacts. The Centre has been closed for a number of years.
Brewarrina Court House and Settlers Museum
The most prominent building in the town is the Brewarrina Court House. It was built in 1871-72 and is a fine example of the colonial architecture of the time. In the old Bowling Club is the newly established Settlers Museum with its interesting displays of artifacts from the history of the area. It is fighting against adversity as the major historical collection of the area was destroyed by fire in 1981. It is only open by appointment.
Narran Lake, to the north-east of town, is one of Australia’s largest natural inland lakes and has an abundance of animal and birdlife. It is an ideal location for birdwatching but there are no facilities and it is on private property so access is by prior arrangement only, tel: (02) 6828 9340. The roads are not the best and are definitely not to be attempted in wet weather.