So What’s The Road Like From The Barrier Highway To Louth?

If you’re thinking of doing the Darling River Run, what road conditions should you expect?

We drove from the Barrier Highway via Cultowa Road across to the Tilpa – Louth Road, then turned right towards Louth. Cultowa Road is just on 44km and crosses vast flood plains and some red soil ridge country. It meets the East Tilpa Road about 75km North-East of Wilcannia.

We then followed the East Tilpa Road up the Darling River to Louth, a journey of about 160km. We were searching for water. Actual flowing water, not green, slimy pools of ooze.

Darling River Run road conditions from Barrier Highway to Louth.
No we haven’t landed on the moon. It’s pretty dry out here at the moment.

What’s It Like?

Well, the road was a mix of smooth black soil roads… and rough, rocky, corrugated sections where the road passes over red soil ridges. Then throw in patches of bull dust, more corrugations, more rocks and some seriously dug out approaches to grids. In short, it was pretty rough in places.

When the road is graded, they often grade it, spray on water, then roll it. This forms a hard surface much like tar when freshly constructed. The trouble is, when the top layer breaks up you get a harsh broken surface. Think of driving on mix of broken tar and soft dirt and you’ll know what I mean.

Would you take a normal car along here? Like most roads, you could… if you took your time. But it wouldn’t be my first option.

A high-clearance 4WD with all-terrain tyres would be the way to go. And slow down. Remember to let your tyres down to around 28psi for a 4WD.

If you don’t, you’ll hammer your vehicle to pieces. And you’re also making the road even rougher for the people who live and work here. Take your time and use some commonsense.

Just Take It Easy

The Darling River Run is one of those must-do road trips. Allow plenty of time and you’ll be fine. Road conditions vary from month to month. If the road has recently been graded, then it’ll be like a highway. If not, be prepared for some rough sections.

Watch out for roos, livestock and rough sections. You don’t want to end up on your roof in a table drain…

Darling River Run road conditions from Barrier Highway to Louth.
The road varies from easy black soil roads like this one to rough red ridge country.

Oh and by the way. We spoke to a couple of blokes in Louth who were working on bridge repairs. They said the West Tilpa Road was way worse than the East Tilpa Road that we had just taken. We had driven along the West Tilpa Road 12 months earlier and it was excellent. So you never can tell.

Either way, it beats pounding along the goat track called the Barrier Highway…


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