09:00 Weds 13 April - till - 17:00 Weds 27 April.
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Across Australia, there are many locations where lonely and often deserted places mark a place of previous tumultuous action. Milparinka, although small in size today, was a home for Aboriginal peoples, the landscape that provided the stories of inland exploration and the location of struggles due to the gold rush and thus the evolving European settlement.
Located in the very far north-western corner of New South Wales, the area was traditionally the home of the Malyangapa people and was first visited by Europeans in 1845 when explorer Charles Sturt led the Central Australian Expedition into the region. In the early 1880s gold was discovered in the nearby Grey Ranges and the rush to find a fortune in precious metal began.
From a heady town population of 300 or more people at the height of the rush, Milparinka has declined to fewer than ten people, but modern-day explorers of the township are met by the surprising vision; not of a waterless mirage shimmering in a desert landscape, but the beautifully restored colonial buildings which form the heart of the Milparinka Heritage Precinct, on the banks of Evelyn Creek and Waterhole.
Vote for this amazing Tiny town in the 2022 Top Tourism Town Awards
Combined with the functioning Albert Hotel, the Heritage Precinct provides visitors with a welcome into the past. The sandstone buildings that are scattered across the landscape, some restored, some decaying with age provide a novice or professional photographer with amazing material against the bright blue backdrop of the 180-degree sky.
In addition to the sandstone buildings, there are four purpose-built interpretive centres, native gardens, two public art pieces and a large historic mural that depicts the town’s history from its earliest times, including, of course, Charles Sturt.
To fully immerse yourself in history and appreciate the expanse of things to see, an overnight stay is a must. The caravan park boasts eight powered sites (and thirty unpowered) and lies adjacent to the Precinct alongside the red-gum-lined creek on which the Malyangapa people and Sturt’s expedition camped. There is plenty of room to move, new facilities with wheelchair access, camp kitchen amenity and space for children to explore both the built and natural environment.
Within the former 1890’s courthouse, the main room has been transformed into a visitor centre where volunteers from many parts of eastern and southern Australia travel to Milparinka to help run the visitors centre in what is one of New South Wales’ longest-running volunteer tourism projects.
It's from this building visitors purchase a pass to access all of the ten current separate interpretive areas of the Precinct, enabling totally immersion into the heritage of the town through written, visual and interactive displays.
The engagement with local Aboriginal elders resulted in a dedicated area to their stories as well as eleven original artworks depicting the matrilineal moiety system of the Aboriginal people and their dreaming story of “two serpents travelling.”
There are heart-breaking cameo stories of the lives of pioneering women including the story of local girl Matilda Wallace who was one of the earliest female pastoralists.
A recent community project provided the addition of the Charles Sturt room, telling the story of one of Australia’s most courageous expeditions. Central to the display is a five-metre-long diorama of the entire complement of people and animals in the expedition, including the 204 sheep. Again, bringing the stories of the past to life for visitors.
Counting the sheep is optional, but if visitors are feeling a little sleepy after carrying out this task the footage of a Kidman cattle muster in the adjoining room will jolt them awake! The Kidman story features images and film from the 1920s generously provided by a direct descendant of Sir Sidney’s. Kidman was himself very much in tune to the bush and his success in part was due to the respect with which he held Aboriginal people and their mura tracks or songlines.
The region’s mining history is featured in a purpose-built centre located a short distance from the heritage buildings and adjacent to two areas devoted to pastoral history. Each site features maps, images and artefacts. In the mining centre, film and historical audio recordings and interactive mining equipment add to the experience.
Visitors love to engage in their own journey through the Milparinka ruins through a sign-posted walking tour that links important sites beyond the Precinct.
The Milparinka Heritage Precinct is constantly evolving. Very soon there will be a Gem centre, interpreting the geology of Australia, a night sky viewing park featuring a sculptural Kalthi, the milky-way emu, and a planisphere with astronomy information, complementing the outstanding vision of the stars that can only be seen in the Outback.
A trip to the Outback is not complete without venturing to Milparinka. It’s an Outback Gem!
You'd want to stay two nights to appreciate all there is to see and do, but here's your one-night option if you're passing through.
The Milparinka Caravan Park caters to the self-sufficient traveller with level powered and unpowered sites for vans and tents. For those who need a bed, then the Milparinka Hotel will be the place for you.
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