As Menindee Lakes bustle with life, dirt roads are sealed to unlock the tourist potential of far west NSW

More than 1,000 kilometers from Sydney, one of the state’s most precious ecosystems is thriving.

With Menindee Lakes filled with water for the first time in nine years, attention is now focused on one of the area’s biggest hurdles in attracting tourists: the dirt roads.

The first bitumen is sprayed on a 9 km long stretch of road near the famous lake system.

Bitumen is laid on a 9 kilometer stretch of Pooncarie Road near Menindee. (

Delivered: Rob Gregory

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The development on Pooncarie Road is part of a larger project to transform the remaining road between Menindee and the town of Wentworth, to the south, from unpaved to paved.

Once completed, the travel time between the two cities is estimated to be reduced by up to 90 minutes.

Locals hope the paved roads and shorter travel time will encourage more people to visit the lakes, which are teeming with wildlife.

“A lot of people will come out with caravans and cars and four-wheel drive.”

A yabby with iridescent blue and red pincers.
Some yabbies have been burrowing underground for half a decade in a kind of hibernation, waiting for the water to return. (

ABC News: Niall Lenihan

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A ‘very big difference’

Greg Hill, General Manager of Central Darling Shire, says the 40-mile upgrade, which will be completed in a few years, doesn’t just mean Menindee is easier to access.

He says it will also open up the rest of western NSW, including areas like Mutawintji and the world-famous Mungo National Park.

Dirt road at Mutawintji
Mungo and Mutawintji National Park (shown here) will be connected by paved roads. (

Delivered: Brian Robotham

)

“It’s going to make a big difference in the future.

“From Mungo to Mutawintji, they can travel on the bitumen road, up to Tibooburra.

A group of elderly people, seated on white plastic chairs, look out from a boat onto a lake that reflects the trees and sky.
Tourists enjoy Lake Pamamaroo on one of Rob Gregory’s boat trips on Menindee. (

ABC news: Bension Siebert

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