Wilcannia is a town of around 600 people located on the Darling River 260 kms East of Cobar and 200 kms West of Broken Hill. Some 15000 caravans pass through each year. People enquiring at towns around about are told not to stop there. "Too dangerous" they're told.
The truth is that the town is one of, if not the most interesting places in the State. For anyone remotely interested in early white settlement, the wool industry, riverboats, superb 19th century public buildings, aboriginal history before and since, this place is a must.
Needless to say the early white settlers were tough little buggers, who swarmed over the place from about 1850 and introduced sheep that thrived despite extreme heat. Today is a different story. Upstream cotton farms have been allocated vast amounts of water from the complex series of rivers that end up in "the Big Ditch" that Europeans named the Darling River.
Always subject to extreme fluctuation, periods of no-flow extend to 9 months or longer on a regular basis. The warehouse being restored in Reid St houses an old rowing four still in reasonable condition that was used by a population of 3000 or more town and country people 100 years ago. Floods in those days would isolate the town and maroon steamers for 3 months or more, feeding all the enormous flood plains and lakes around the river during it's 1500 kilometre journey to Wentworth. Today the most extreme floods like those that took lives in the Lockyer Valley in 2011 do not water any of them.
The Bonney brothers were early white settlers who recorded the life and times of aboriginal communities around the district. Charles Dickens son managed a huge sheep station and was elected to the NSW State Parliament. Edmund Resch started his first brewery here.
Today the town is home to around 600 people, 450 aboriginal and 150 white. Many tourists have never seen or met an aboriginal person. Wilcannia is an excellent place to meet people from the Barkandji mob or tribe, who traditionally lived in an area from Bourke in the North to Wentworth in the South