The township of Bourke is pivotal to the Shire of the same name, which covers an area of 43,000 square km in far west NSW.
Bordering southern Qld, the Shire has a population of approximately 2600 people and is home to the small villages of Byrock, Enngonia, Fords Bridge, Wanaaring and Louth.
Bourke is on the banks of the Darling River and relies on the pastoral, irrigation, tourism and service industries. The surrounding area is mainly used for sheep farming with some irrigated fruit and cotton crops near the river.
The town is at the crossroads of the Mitchell and Kamilaroi Highways and the Kidman Way.
The distance to Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong is approximately 800 km. In driving time, motorists should allow 10 hours. A coach service is available to Dubbo, 360 km away, with connecting train and air services, along with chartered flights available.
Climate: Winter 4-22 degrees
Summer: 25-45 degrees
Bourke’s strong sense of community gives residents a relaxed lifestyle and plenty of social opportunities. There is a busy local event calendar which includes sports, camping, fishing and water sports. Dining out is also a pleasant experience at one of the local pubs or clubs.
The median price for a 3-bedroom family home in Bourke is $150,000, while rental properties average at about $250 per week. There is some housing available on farms and out of town along with residential blocks in North Bourke.
The main industries in Bourke are agriculture, government services and tourism.
Traditionally a wool growing area, Bourke was once the biggest wool railhead in the world. Today, while wool is still grown, cotton has taken over as the major industry.
Bourke also boasts a thriving horticultural sector which produces an abundance of grapes, citrus, plums, apricots and melon as well as a variety of vegetable crops. Alternative native crops such as peanuts, jojoba nd the unique Napunya honey are also produced in the area.
A new small livestock abattoir in the area is providing employment opportunities for the Bourke district.
On-farm employment and service industries are mainstays in the area while professional jobs are available in the areas of social services, education, environment and agriculture.
There is also potential for new businesses with industrial land available in North Bourke and on the outskirts of the town.
Bourke offers a range of private and government-based education providers.
St. Ignatius Parish Primary School belongs to the Bourke Catholic Parish and provides a Catholic education for children who live in the town of Bourke and surrounds.
Koinonia Christian Academy is a co-educational combined school, serving Years K-8 and is one of the independent schools in Bourke.
Bourke Public School (K-6) and Bourke High School (Years 7-12) also offer comprehensive education services for the children of the area.
Bourke’s historic town centre has two supermarkets, along with a local banking facility, post office and delivery services. There is a thriving retail sector including white goods, hardware, gift shops and clothing outlets. There are also services supporting the construction industry including steel fabrication, steel yard, concreting, electricians, plumbers and builders. The tourism sector is well-supported with modern accommodation, caravan parks, cafes and restaurants including an RSL Club.
Louth Races every August is an iconic event in the region which has made it on to the social calendars of country racegoers and outback enthusiasts alike. The Festival of a Thousand Stories in September celebrates the many tales that have etched ‘the Back o’ Bourke’ forever into the Australian psyche. Poetry on a Plate is also a regular evening of original contemporary Australian poetry and music provided by renowned storyteller Frank Povah along with a slow-cooked dinner beneath the stars and beside the fire.
As the ‘Gateway to the Real Outback’, tourism is a growing industry in the Bourke area. There are so many experiences to have, including a cruise on the Darling River aboard a paddle steamer, a visit to the Byrock Rock Holes or learning about history at the Back o’ Bourke Exhibition Centre. Other places of interest include the wharf precinct, Poets’ Corner and the Nancy Bird Air Terminal. Mt Oxley, Gundabooka and Toorale National Parks also showcase the natural beauty of the area. Bird watching, camping and fishing are also activities that can be enjoyed in the Bourke district.