Bourke Shire is located in north western NSW and covers an area of over 40,000 km+. The township of Bourke sits at the junction of three highways, the Kidman Way, Mitchell Highway and Kamilaroi Highway.

The Shire's main industries include cotton, soft fruit, citrus, cattle production, irrigated wheat, wild goat and kangaroo harvesting, and of course the wool industry, part of the Bourke area since the 1860s.

Main Industry

Traditionally a wool growing area, Bourke was once the biggest wool railhead in the world. Today, while wool is still grown, cotton has taken over as the major industry.There are two cotton gins in Bourke which feature the latest technology in ginning processes. The cotton industry is a main source of direct "on farm" employment and indirect employment through businesses established to service the industry. The industry continues to expand.

Bourke also boasts a thriving horticultural industry, which produces an abundance of grapes, citrus, plums, apricots and melon as well as a variety of vegetable crops. Opportunities to establish new enterprises based on this growing industry are being explored. Value adding industries are particularly being sought and would stimulate local growth in this area.

Alternative native crops such as peanuts, jojoba and the unique Napunya honey are also produced in the area. Such industry diversification and further development will necessitate new and improved freight handling facilities, transport services as well as marketing and production expertise.

Like many small towns the population has remained more or less the same for a number of years. Employment is predominantly in the rural sector although employment in tourism, retail and associated industries continues to grow.


Bourke Shire has one secondary school, four primary/infants schools, two preschools and two childcare facilities. The Western Institute of TAFE offers post secondary education. The Bourke Hospital is supported by a network of health services, medical practitioners and visiting specialists. Facilities and services include Rivergum Lodge for the aged and Aboriginal Medical Services. Bourke will soon have a new hospital with construction underway. Tourism continues to be a growing industry in the West with all roads now sealed into Bourke from Australia 's capital cities. The sealing of the Kidman Way has resulted in an unbroken sealed route between Melbourne and Darwin and to other parts of the outback. The now completed Kamilaroi Highway has provided sealed access to Brisbane and has opened up the major transport route between Adelaide and Brisbane. Air links, coach and rail services add to the transport infrastructure of the Shire. Incorporating the history and the natural features of the area, the Back O' Bourke Exhibition Centre will be a high quality, state-of-the-art exhibition Centre which will tell the story of the Darling River 500 years long.

The Exhibition Centre will feature displays of Aboriginal History, explorers, drovers and early settlers, unique flora and fauna, and the river boats. The Centre will be built on the banks of the Darling River at a cost of $5 million dollars. With the completion of the Exhibition Centre and the sealing of interstate roads and highways, Bourke is expected to attract an estimated 100,000 travellers over the next couple of years.

This opens up the possibility for new businesses in such areas as a 24 hour road house, a paddleboat operation on the Darling River, an Aboriginal Arts and Crafts Centre, a motel, a resort on the banks of the river and various alternate farming activities, e.g. emus, olives and herbs. Several of these opportunities are currently being investigated.

Communications and the Business Community

Telecommunication services throughout the Shire have much improved in the last few years. Bourke has a internet service provider, offering quality service at a local call rate, and many business and households have taken advantage of internet and email facilities. Community access to the Internet will facilitate new economic opportunities based on the expanding telecommunications industry. Bourke now has access to Pay TV through Austar at normal rates.

Bourke is home to many large organisations, particularly rural outlets such as Elders and Dalgety's, and also large farming enterprises such as Clyde Agriculture and Darling Farms. The township of Bourke has the normal shopping facilities associated with an outback town of this size. The town is the service centre for the region with a number of Government Departments based in Bourke to service the area.

There are a number of active sports clubs in Bourke catering for most interests. The Bourke RSL, the Bowling Club and a number of hotels provide local residents and visitors with entertainment and a social meeting place. Other organisations such as Rotary, Lions and the CWA always welcome new members. There is a great deal of history and natural wonders to experience in Bourke and the surrounding district, including Mt. Gundabooka in the South, the port of Bourke and wharf area, the red country to the West, bush ranger country to the north and the fish traps at Brewarrina. The people of Bourke are very friendly and enjoy a relaxed lifestyle.

Name: Bourke Shire
Population: 3,095
Size of Shire: 43,116 sq km+
Towns and Villages:
Bourke, Byrock, Wanaaring, Fords Bridge, North Bourke , Enngonia, Barringun & Louth
Climate: Mean daily temperature (min - max)
Summer 21.1°C - 35.8°C
Winter 5.6°C - 17.0°C
Mean yearly rainfall 300mm
Elevation: 106 metres
Main Industry: Agriculture - Wool, Cotton , Citrus, Tourism
Industry No. Employed
1 Agriculture, forestry, fishing
2 Health & community services
3 Wholesale/Retail trade
4 Cultural and recreational services
5 Manufacturing
6 Construction
7 Finance and insurance
8 Property and business services
9 Transport and storage
10 Communication services
Labour Force
Total employed: 1820
Total labour force: 2147
Not in labour force: 945
Labour force participation rate: 69.4%
Employment by
Occupation (%)
Managers and Administrators
Labourers and related
Tradespersons and related
Advanced clerical & services
Intermediate clerical, sales and services
Intermediate production and transport
Associate professionals
Doing Business: Business assistance is provided by banks, accountants and office support services. Centrelink, Job Network and a number of State and Federal Government Departments also service the Shire.
Land Availability: Affordable industrial, commercial and residential land, serviced and unserviced, is available.
Statistics provided by Brewarrina Shire Council from ABS Data