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Shuttle Box 39 Daphne St Bourke NS 2019
Tito's Coffee Shop 31 Oxley St, Bourke NSW 2840, Australia
+61 2 6872 2079
R&R Motors 81 Mitchell St, Bourke NSW 2840, Australia
+61 2 6872 3100
North Bourke Roadhouse Mitchell Hwy, Bourke NSW 2840, Australia
+61 2 6872 2464
Bourke Riverside Motel 3 Mitchell St, Bourke NSW 2840, Australia
+61 2 6872 2539
Tse Wong Chinese Restaurant 1 Richard St, Bourke NSW 2840, Australia
+61 2 6872 3064
Just Car Automotive Service and Repairs 166 Bourke Street, Darlinghurst NSW 2010, Australia
+61 2 9361 3034
Redbank Homestead - Gundabooka NP Gundabooka National Park, Bourke NSW 2840, Australia
+61 2 6872 2744
Phil's Plumbing Service 19 Tarcoon St, Bourke NSW 2840, Australia
+61 2 6872 2370
Bourke Furniture 22 Oxley St, Bourke NSW 2840, Australia
+61 2 6872 2351
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About Bourke

Bourke, New South Wales

Bourke is a town in the north-west of New South Wales, Australia. The administrative centre and largest town inBourke Shire, Bourke is approximately 800 kilometres (500 mi) north-west of the state capital, Sydney, on the south bank of the Darling River. At the 2006 census, Bourke had a population of 2,047, of whom 762 (or 37%) identified asIndigenous Australians.

New South Wales

Bourke court house.jpg

Court house

Bourke is located in New South Wales


The location of the current township of Bourke on a bend in the Darling River is the traditional country of the Ngemba people. Near Tuon Station.

The first white explorer to encounter the river was Charles Sturt in 1828 who named it after NSW Governor Ralph Darling. Having struck the region during an intense drought and a low river, Sturt dismissed the area as largely uninhabitable and short of any features necessary for establishing renewable industry on the land.

It was not until the mid-1800s following a visit by colonial surveyor and explorer Sir Thomas Mitchell in 1835 that settlement of the area began. Following tensions with the local people Mitchell built a small stockade to protect his men and named it Fort Bourke after then Governor Richard Bourke. This first crude structure became the foundation for a fledgling community with a small number of agricultural and livestock farms established in the region shortly afterwards. The area truly started to flourish when its location on the Darling River had it recognised as a key trade centre, linking the nearby outback agricultural industries with the east coast trade routes via the Darling River.

Bourke was surveyed for a town in 1869 and soon established itself as the outback trade hub of New South Wales with several transportation industries setting up branches in the town. By the 1880s Bourke would host a Cobb & Co. Coach Terminus, several paddle boat companies running the Darling and a bridge crossing the river that would allow for road transportation into the town and by 1885 Bourke would be accessible by rail, confirming its position as a major inland transport hub. Like many outback Australian townships, Bourke would come to rely on camels for overland transport, and the area supported a large Afghan community that had been imported to drive the teams of camels. A small Afghan mosque that dates back to the 1900s can be found within Bourke cemetery.

As trade moved away from river transport routes, Bourke's hold on the inland trade industry began to relax. Whilst no longer considered a trade centre, Bourke serves instead as a key service centre for the states north western regions. In this semi-arid outback landscape, sheep farming along with some small irrigated cotton crops comprise the primary industry in the area today.

Bourke's traditional owners endured a similar fate to indigenous people across Australia. Dispossessed of their traditional country and in occasional conflict with white settlers, they battled a loss of land and culture and were hit hard by European disease. While the population of the local Ngemba and Barkindji people around the town of Bourke had dwindled by the late 19th century, many continued to live a traditional lifestyle in the region. Others found employment on local stations working with stock and found their skill as trackers in high demand.

A large influx of displaced Aboriginal peoples from other areas in the 1940s saw Bourke’s indigenous community grow and led to the establishment of a reserve in 1946 by the Aborigines Protection Board. The majority of indigenous settlers were Wangkumara people from the Tibooburra region.

In 1962 local high jumper Percy Hobson became the first Aboriginal athlete to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal for Australia in Perth. The 5 ft. 10 in. tall Hobson jumped 13 inches above his height to win the event with a leap of 6 ft. 11 inches. While Hobson was urged by athletics administrators ‘not to broadcast his ancestry’, he was celebrated on his return to Bourke and greeted by a brass band playing "Hail the Conquering Hero". Cathy Freeman was the next Aboriginal athlete to claim a Commonwealth Gold in Auckland in 1990.

In Bourke today there are 21 different recognized indigenous language groups including Ngemba, Barkindji, Wangkumara and Murrawari.



Mitchell Street, Bourke, in "The Wet," 1890


Camel caravan in Bourke circa 1900

Cultural significance


Telegraph Hotel established 1875, now Riverside Motel

Bourke is considered to represent the edge of the settled agricultural districts and the gateway to the Outback that lies north and west of Bourke. This is reflected in a traditional east coast Australian expression "back o' Bourke", referring to the Outback.

In 1892 a young writer Henry Lawson was sent to Bourke by Bulletin editor J.F. Archibald to get a taste of outback life and to try to curb his heavy drinking. In Lawson's own words "I got £5 and a railway ticket from the Bulletin and went to Bourke. Painted, picked up in a shearing shed and swagged it for six months". The experience was to have a profound effect on the 25 year old and his encounter with the harsh realities of bush life inspired much of his subsequent work. Lawson would later write "if you know Bourke you know Australia". In 1992 eight poems, written under a pseudonym and published in the Western Herald, were discovered in the Bourke library archives and confirmed to be Lawson's work. 

Bush poets Harry 'Breaker' Morant and Will Ogilvie also spent time in the Bourke region and based much of their work on the experience.

Bourke was mentioned in the trial of Bradley John Murdoch on 24 November 2005, as the place where murder victim Peter Falconio was allegedly seen, 8 days after his disappearance from near Barrow Creek, Northern Territory.

Fred Hollows, the famous eye surgeon, was buried in Bourke after his death in 1993. Fred Hollows had worked in Bourke in the early 1970s and had asked to be buried there.

The Telegraph Hotel, established in 1888 beside the Darling River, has been restored and now operates as the Riverside Motel.

In 2008, persistently high levels of crime in Bourke led to bans on the sale of alcohol.




The Darling River from Bourke Wharf

Mosque in Bourke cemetery. 19th-century Bourke was home to many Afghan camel keepers


Sunday morning at the Bourke Bowls Club

SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bourke,_New_South_Wales 

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