The Kidman Way
(also known as NSW State Highway 87), was named after Sir Sidney Kidman, who was a famous pastoralist and cattle king, owning over a hundred cattle stations along the path, with many still owned by his descendants. The Kidman Way
traces the vast length of his stock routes, which was used back in the day to move herds to and from major markets in outback NSW
. Today, the Kidman Way
is a fully sealed road running almost 800kms through outback New South Wales
, starting at Jerilderie and officially ending at the near-desolate town of Barringun on the NSW/QLD border. The route passes through some interesting and historic towns such as: Darlington Point, Griffith, Hillston, Mount Hope, Gilgunnia, Cobar, Bourke, and Enngonia. Continuing further north past Barringun, the Kidman Way
becomes the Matilda Highway
, which heads north through Queensland
all the way to Karumba in the Gulf.
The Kidman Way
is an interesting drive that is packed with agricultural, European and Aboriginal culture and heritage
. You can visit the scene where bushranger Ned Kelly and his gang raided the local bank in Jerilderie; enjoy the wineries and restaurants of Griffith and the Riverina, and learn about the true story behind the legend of the ‘black stump’. You can discover the rich local history at the copper mining town of Cobar, and then take a side trip from Cobar to the Aboriginal heritage
site at Mount Grenfell, which has more than 1300 examples of rock art. Visit The Hillston Cotton Gin, which provides visitors with an insight into the cotton industry; learn about the history of the punt and bridge at Darlington Point; and explore those old outback towns such as Bourke, which are often considered by city folk to be on the absolute outskirts of civilization - as in the legendary saying “Back O' Bourke”. The Kidman Way
has it everything!!!
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After leaving Jerilderie, the Kidman Way heads north through lush Riverina terrain towards Griffith, passing through the small towns of Coleambally and Darlington Point, where there are some picnic areas beside the Murrumbidgee River. Griffith is a large regional town designed by the same architect who designed Canberra and the neighboring town called Leeton. Griffith is in the heart of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA), which is surrounded by orchards, ricefields, and vineyards - providing some 70% of the wine to NSW.
Heading towards Hillston on the Mid Western Highway for 50km to Goolgowi you pass through mainly flat land but from Goolgowi to Hillston you enter wheat and grazing country. Hillston is situated on the banks of the beautiful Lachland River that flows all the way from Forbes and Cowra towards the Murrumbidgee. It's just 96km from Hillston to Mt Hope although you might like to take a few diversions in this fascinating country. The stretch between Hillston and Cobar is long, straight and unbroken except for the village of Mount Hope.
The Kidman Way continues 160kms through Mallee and semi-arid woodlands on to Cobar, once famous for copper. Cobar sits on the Barrier Highway 161km north of Mt Hope. It's a mining and grazing area but you'll find all the supplies you need. Bourke is just 160km further on. Bourke is situated on the banks of the Darling River, a cotton growing area. The Darling River is the longest river in Australia and there's some good camping on its banks all the way south-west to Menindee, another popular 4WD trek in itself called the Darling River Run.
From Bourke there are many different options for the 4WD. Take the Darling River Run back south; head west towards Tibooburra to enter Corner Country; head east towards Gilgandra and the Warrumbungles or continue north along the tarred Mitchell Highway into Queensland to join up with the Matilda Highway - from Cunnamulla that passes through central Queensland right up to the Gulf of Carpentaria at Karumba.
The Kidman Way
was named after Sidney Kidman - a famous pastoralist, cattle king entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He was born on the 9th May 1857 near Adelaide and by the time he reached 13, Sidney had left home with only 5 shillings and a one-eyed horse that he had bought with his savings. He quickly learnt to drove stock, worked as a stockhand and a livestock trader. Soon he was making good money trading and supplying services
(such as transport, and butchers shops) to new outback mining towns like Cobar, Kapunda, Burra and Broken Hill.
Sidney and his brother Sackville bought their own station, working in partnership until 1899 when Sackville had died. Saving money, Sidney bought a bullock team, opened a butcher’s shop
and store at Cobar copper rush and was becoming very successful. At the age of 21, he inherited 400 pounds from his granddads estate, which he used it to buy horses and cattle. In 1886, Sidney bought Owen Springs station, and extended his holdings into NSW and QLD, buying and trading on a large scale. Before World War 1 he was a millionaire, owning (or had a large interest in) land covering around 260,000 square kilometres (100,000 square miles).
Sidney Kidman had built a vast network of connected stations stretching from both the Gulf of Carpentaria, the Fitzroy River in Western Australia
, down to the Flinders Ranges
in South Australia
, and across into New South Wales
. This strategic network allowed him to fatten cattle on the remote stations to the north, bring them down the lines between stations and to markets in the south. Starting from nothing, Sidney managed to build a huge pastoral business, with over a hundred cattle stations totaling in area of more than 3% of Australia
. His cattle routes followed the great inland river systems, and hence drought proofing his empire. S Kidman and Co is still the largest private landholder in Australia
, although now on a much smaller scale.
During World War 1, Sidney Kidman donated wool, meat, horses, ambulances and even fighter planes to the government. He also guaranteed the jobs of employees who went to fight in the war, and assisted the widows of those who didn't come back. Sidney was knighted in 1921, and the Adelaide suburb of Kidman Park was also named after him.