Wentworth is a small historic town located in the New South Wales (NSW) outback. Situated close to neighbouring Mildura across the border, Wentworth NSW is sadly overshadowed by its larger sized Victorian counterpart. Many Australians would know of Mildura. But less have heard of Wentworth.
Otherwise known as the gateway to outback NSW, Wentworth deserves acknowledgement as a stand alone tourist destination. It’s not just the smaller town outside of Mildura, but a worthwhile location worth a visit in its own right. That’s because Wentworth lays claim to having some marvellous if underrated attractions. For instance, Wentworth is the meeting place of Australia’s two longest rivers – the Murray and the Darling River. A worthwhile place to check out.
Plus, given that the town dates back to 1859, there is an old historic feeling to it. It’s a more authentic and untouched outback town compared to the modern Mildura. Not to say Mildura isn’t great also. But we’re cheering for the little guy in this scenario!
With exception of the incredible Mungo National Park, all attractions on this list are located in or close to Wentworth. We hope this guide sheds some light on the fantastic natural attractions and outstanding historical sites of the town.
With fluctuating restrictions in travel for those residing in NSW, this is a destination you can visit in 2020, but also beyond. An approximate 11 hour drive from Sydney wouldn’t realistically allow for a weekend trip for Sydneysiders. But consider Wentworth as a must see destination of outback NSW on a longer trip. Time to start exploring your own backyard!
Table of Contents
Five Wentworth Attractions
- Mungo National Park
- Perry Sandhills
- Junction Park
- Old Wentworth Gaol
- Australian Inland Botanic Gardens
1. Mungo National Park
Although not strictly located in Wentworth, it would be remiss of us to not include the magnificent Mungo National Park on this list. If you visit Wentworth, or Mildura for that matter, you must go to Mungo National Park. Its otherwordly lunar type terrain spread throughout the dusty desert is truly awe-inspiring. But this place is much more than just natural beauty. The historical and archaeological findings here are unbelievable.
There is evidence that Mungo National Park is one of the oldest places in the world (outside of Africa) to be occupied by homosapiens. It’s estimated that the Indigenous people of Australia lived here between 50-60,000 years ago. There are also archaeological findings of bones and artifacts belonging to the now-extinct megafauna.
There’s quite a lot to see at Mungo National Park. From Wentworth NSW, you’ll need a whole day to explore the area, as the drive there takes 1.5-2 hours. To cover all of the highlights, you should do the self drive 70km Mungo Track loop. Here’s a rundown of all the best bits to check out, in order, if you follow this route.
- Mungo Lookout: You will have a nice preview of what is to come. Views of the desert landscape residing over the now dried Lake Mungo and the most famous lunette of them all, the Walls of China, are just visible.
- Mungo Woolshed: In its heyday, the woolshed was a busy place. There could be upwards of 18 men shearing approximately 50,000 sheep! Built in 1869, the woolshed hasn’t changed much over the years. So your visit here will be an authentic one.
- Walls of China: The main attraction. There are mounds of red, yellow and brown rock with rippled textures scattered throughout the desert. The lunettes conjure a fascinating lunar like landscape.
- Red Top Lookout: This boardwalk takes you a lot closer to the lunettes and other lunar type landscape than the Walls of China boardwalk. Once again, the incredible landscape will leave you mesmerised.
- Mallee Stop Walking Track: A 1km loop through the dusty orange desert floor that only takes around 15 minutes.
- Vigar Wells Picnic Area: You can roam some of the large sand dunes to get an epic panoramic view of the landscape. Stopping here also affords the opportunity to get up, close and personal with the astonishing lunettes.
- Zanci Homestead: A combination of refurbished and original remains of a homestead and woolshed offer further insight into the pastoral history of the area.
Read more: Mungo National Park 2WD Day Trip Itinerary
2. Perry Sandhills
The Perry Sandhills is hands down the best natural attraction in Wentworth NSW. They are made up of 822 acres of large red sand dunes conspicuously placed right next to town. They don’t call Wentworth the gateway to the NSW outback for nothing!
The striking patterns, ripples and formations of the sandhills are absolutely incredible. That in combination with the enormous size of the endless sandhills is a truly mindblowing landscape.
Forming around 40,000 years ago after an ice age, the sandhills, similar to Mungo National Park, give rise to amazing archaeological findings. These include skeletal remains of mega-fauna and artifacts of Indigenous people living here concomitantly many years ago.
What’s even more impressive is that wind erosion causes the sandhills to continuously move, shift and evolve. This not only creates a new and exciting landscape but uncovers undiscovered relics and remains.
Also of interest is that at one time, this area was sprawling with red gum trees. Over time, sand enveloped and dominated the landscape. As a result, the bush type terrain has been swallowed by the red sand. So when you’re roaming the sandhills, you’re essentially walking on the canopy of a previously existing forest!
Sunrise at Perry Sandhills
You should time your visit here at sunrise or sunset to elevate your experience. We highly recommend exploring during sunrise. This means you’ll beat the heat, plus avoid the crowds during the day. There’s something truly magical about this place. Especially when you’re the only ones there. You’ll be surrounded by enormous and beautifully wind sculptured red sand dunes. It’s no wonder that the Perry Sandhills has become a film set for TV shows and movies such as The Man From Snowy River II.
SIDE NOTE: If you visit in winter, it’ll be very cold if you make it for sunrise! More than you’d expect. So make sure you rug up! Don’t think you can explore the sandhills in your flip flops as we did. You’ll be running back to your car with painfully numb feet in no time!
Read more: Perry Sandhills Sunrise Guide
3. Junction Park
The next most impressive natural attraction of Wentworth NSW is Junction Park. From the viewing tower of the serene park, you’ll enjoy an aerial view of the Murray and Darling Rivers meeting. They are the two longest rivers in Australia.
In fact, the Murray River is the longest river in Australia totalling 2,508km. It begins in the Australian Alps, draining the western side of the mountains and winds it away across Australia’s inland plains, forming the NSW/Victoria border. The river then continues into South Australia, concluding at Lake Alexandria by the ocean.
In comparison, the Darling River is Australia’s third largest river measuring 1,472km. It begins in northern NSW and retires as it meets the Murray at Junction Park! If you include all of the Darling’s tributaries, it totals 2,844km, making it even longer than the Murray! Together, the rivers make up the fourth largest river system in the world!
Visiting early in the morning means you’ll have pleasantly still water. This creates a marvellous mirror reflection of the sky and Junction Island; the slither of land separating the rivers. So it’s worth visiting in the morning before the day’s activities disturb the water. Also worth noting is that during times of heavy rainfall (which is rare in the Aussie outback), the river may not be so still.
Checking out Junction Park won’t take too long. You’ll just need an hour or so to check out the viewing tower and explore the park. Walk along the Murray River to the Lock & Weir No. 10 to really scope out the area.
What’s With the Rivers’ Colour Difference?
Interestingly, there can be a significant difference in the rivers’ colours. Honestly speaking, we couldn’t make out too much of a difference. That’s because we visited after some decent rainfall. Apparently, times of drought, when the river flow is minimal, helps contribute to ideal conditions responsible for the growth of blue-green algae in the Murray River.
Although creating a fascinating contrast between the rivers, unfortunately, the algae deteriorate the water quality. It has forced the NSW government to take action to treat it in the past. So, during a period of drought, you’ll really notice a difference in colour. From the viewing platform, the further away Murray River may have a greenish tinge. In contrast, the nearer Darling River, a clay based river, will have a more milkier appearance!
4. Old Wentworth Gaol
At Travel Made Me Do It, we’re all about the natural attractions. But we must include at least one historic building on this list, given the town of Wentworth has many significant historical landmarks. After all, it’s the colonial styled original buildings that give Wentworth a classic and timely feel.
Unfortunately, our visit to Old Wentworth Gaol (Jail) coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic. So we only got to enjoy the historic landmark from the outside. But that was still worth the visit. The locally made terracotta bricks lined with bluestone trim certainly had an old-timey feel. You’ll be hard pressed to find more impressive colonial style architecture in Australia. For that reason, seeing this landmark exceeded our expectations.
Built between 1879-1881, the diminutive single storey brick building was the first Australian designed gaol. It was built to help with the overcrowding of lock-ups. It was in use until 1927 and then became part of Wentworth Central School!
Hopefully, the attraction will be open upon your visit. Tickets are $8AUD/adult ($6USD) and $6AUD/child ($4USD). There’s also an antique store on-site. For more information, check out the Wentworth Tourism website.
If you’re interested in the town’s other historical landmarks, consider doing the Wentworth Trail. It’s a route covering all the main historical attractions of Wentworth NSW. In fact, it was created by the Wentworth Branch of National Trust Heritage. Other places worth checking out include the Wentworth Post Office, Crown Hotel and Wentworth Wharf. Otherwise, you can see all of these attractions on foot. Simply follow the Wentworth Walk.
5. Australian Inland Botanic Gardens
It’s the first semi-arid botanic gardens in the Southern Hemisphere! Located in the outback, expect to see exotic species of plants on display. But don’t be fooled! What you’ll find here is not merely barren plants and flowers found in the desert. To the contrary, the gardens’ main attraction is a magnificent display of colour co-ordinated roses!
Best yet, entrance is for free. But a donation is appreciated. The Australian Inland Botanic Gardens located just outside of Wentworth NSW are open every day from 10am–4:30pm. There’s also a cafe on site. Plus on Saturdays, there are extra tours and events going on. Again, visit the Wentworth Tourism Board for more information.
Top Five Travel Essentials For Wentworth
- Anker PowerCore 10000 Portable Charger – we always travel with a portable charger to make sure our phone and camera don’t run out of juice.
- Nikon D3400 Digital SLR Camera – a fantastic entry-level professional quality camera.
- SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I Card – C10, U3, V30, 4K UHD, SD Card – a professional camera must have a high quality memory card.
- Beam Electronics Car Phone Holder – if you’re following the Wentworth Trail on your phone, this car phone holder will make following the directions much easier and safer.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Snap Fleece Jacket – if exploring Wentworth and surrounds in winter, you’ll need to rug up in the mornings.
Wentworth NSW Top Five Recap
So there you have it – the top five attractions in and around Wentworth NSW. We hope this guide will help you to discover the best of Wentworth and surrounds. Despite being a small country town, it’s filled with interesting landmarks and natural attractions. Visiting Wentworth exceeded our expectations. We hope that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what’s on offer here, and will consider visiting soon!
After all of the hiking we had done during our South Coast NSW / Victoria road trip, it was nice to have some more restful days checking out Wentworth. For more hiking guides, visit here.
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