Thanks to a tip from a lady at the Broken Hill Tourist info centre, we headed out to Lake Pamamaroo for an undecided amount of free camping time. We had asked if there were any nice free camping areas which were also dog friendly and this spot lived up to everything and more, than we were hoping for.
The lake is a little over 100 kilometres to the south east of Broken Hill and the majority of the way is on a very interesting bitumen road drive towards Menindee. There is a turnoff to Lake Pamamaroo before you get into Menindee and then it’s 8 kilometres on dirt, which when it’s dry weather is fine but I’d be nervous about it after rain, because it was very clay and muddy looking.
Menindee is famous for being the last stop of explorers Burke and Wills and on the road out to the lake, you’ll find the Burke and Wills campsite, where you can free camp. This area has the luxury of flushing toilets and plenty of space for caravans, campers, tents and swags. There is a marked tree as well which shows where the last campsite of Burke and Wills was with a story about the expedition to here.
Before the campsite though, you can set up anywhere around the edge of Lake Pamamaroo, which had some incredible spots to choose from. You can decide to stop somewhere shaded or open and there were sandy beach like areas as well as grassed river banks to choose from. To stay anywhere here is absolutely free and relatively quiet. The only noise we heard was a bit of road user noise during the day and a dirt bike rider one day.
You can drive or take a walk to the Main Weir which is only about 1 kilometre from the Burke and Wills campsite and at the end there is even more campground space and toilets. When we were there the Darling River was absolutely roaring out of the weir, with the level of the river almost at the top. A road that would normally cross here was nowhere to be seen.
This much water has brought a huge amount of birdlife in with cormorants, ibis, ducks and the biggest flock of pelicans I’ve ever seen, all catching a feed. In the lake was only carp but near the outlet regulator people were catching yellow belly (Golden Perch) which are good eating fish.
The area is well known for yabbies too and a couple of big ones were caught as they hung on to the bait on the fishing line. They were sent back to live another day. You do need a fishing licence in NSW and it will cost you $7 for three days, $14 for a month or $35 for a year.
Lake Pamamaroo is one of a series of lakes along the Darling River, and when full they hold three and a half times the water as Sydney Harbour. These lakes supply water to Broken Hill, and irrigate landholders properties between Menindee and Wentworth.
As usual when we freecamp we look to spend money in the area we’re staying so take a drive into Menindee and you can top up any food and groceries need at the supermarket and there is a very good visitor info centre, which has lots of local information, art and souvenirs, you can leave them a donation too. There is also a caravan park at Menindee lakes if you’d prefer that option.
We were very lucky to find the perfect time to camp here with the lake full and looking spectacular but no rain to worry about during our stay that might have made getting out again difficult. Like a lot of places in Australia, there is the whole ‘droughts and flooding rain’ aspect that you always have to consider, after all it was only in 2019 that Menindee was almost completely dry and hundreds and thousands of native fish died. Thankfully at the moment the lake system is looking fantastic and it seems the fish life is recovering.
We thought when we came out to Lake Pamamaroo that we may stay a couple of nights but it was so peaceful and relaxing that we stayed four nights and probably could have stayed longer except that we had heard that rain could be on the way so we moved on.
This was a spectacular stay made all the more special with gorgeous sunsets every evening and millions of stars on show every night.