With an extensive history that stretches far beyond the arrival of its early European settlers, Balranald is the perfect location to unearth some of Australia’s Outback secrets.
As the oldest settlement on the Murrumbidgee River, and a town that has seen the likes of explorers Charles Sturt and Sir Thomas Mitchell pass through; Balranald’s illustrious reputation precedes itself. This resilient town is the product of colonial prosperity, a strong pioneering past and fertile land, but it is the vibrant community spirit that has ensured Balranald has continued to flourish. Much like the surrounding World Heritage-listed Mungo National Park, Balranald continues to get better with age.
Make like one of Balranald’s early pioneers and explore what this diverse town has to offer. Pick up a map from the Visitor Information Centre and follow the Balranald Heritage Trail, which takes you past many of the town’s most historically significant buildings, landmarks and museums. Balranald’s riverfront location also makes it an ideal starting point to discover a diverse natural landscape that includes arid deserts, Mallee plains, a winding river system and lush agricultural lands.
As part of the Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area, Mungo National Park is not only one of the world’s most visually breathtaking and overwhelming landscapes, it is also a key archaeological site that holds the mysteries of an ancient past. The desolate, vast landscape is lunar-like in its emptiness, with lakes that have long been dried up preserving the fossils of human, animal and plant life that once roamed the earth. It is also where the oldest human skeleton in Australia was discovered, and where you can find the Walls of China - great, looming sand dunes that have been carved by the harsh winds that whip through the area. Do not miss the chance to explore this incredible area.
Balranald is not without a notorious criminal history, and the Old Balranald Lockup has seen its fair share of infamous visitors. Housing prisoners from 1887 to 1977, including the last man to ever be hanged in Australia, Ronald Ryan; it has since been used as a police station and private residence. It now offers behind-the-scene tours for a taste of inmate life, and a deeper look at Balranald’s criminal past.
For a captivating insight into the history of not only Balranald, but the surrounding region, the Malcolm Building Museum is the place to visit. Constructed in the late 1800s, the building was initially owned by the first Stock and Station Agents, but was officially opened as a museum in 1998. It houses relics, local artefacts and photographs.
The southern NSW town of Balranald is located just 35 minutes across the Victorian Border
Its position on the Sturt Highway makes it a relatively straightforward journey from Sydney, and takes just under 9 hours to travel the 762 km. Melbourne, at 482 km away takes only 5 hours via the Calder Freeway, while travelling from Adelaide also takes just over 5 hours.
With a semi-arid climate that sees rain falling mostly in spring, and hot, soaring temperatures come summer, the best time to visit Balranald is during the cooler months. In winter, the mild days tend to give way to cold nights, and frost is not unusual; but with an average of only 106 overcast days a year, you can guarantee the sun will be shining at some point during your visit.
Between the IGA and Foodworks, both on Market Street, you have more than enough grocery options when it comes to shopping in Balranald.
Also on Market Street is LV Bodinnar, your one-stop shop for all things camping, gas, fuel, electrical and hardware goods. Be sure to pop in and replenish any dwindling supplies.
The public RV dump point in Balranald is located at the carpark adjacent to the water tower on Church Street. It is open and accessible all year round, and there is no fee to use the facilities.