Once a thriving river port, WENTWORTH was founded in 1859 at the confluence of the Murray and Darling rivers. For over fifty years it was the hub of paddle-steamer traffic between New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, but in 1903 the railway reached Mildura, 30km southeast in Victoria. Mildura burgeoned at Wentworth's expense and the "two rivers" town is now a sleepy place of around 1500 people. It makes a good base for exploring Mungo National Park, and with a handful of attractive buildings, the river confluence and some sand dunes it's a pleasant spot to overnight.
Buses run by Broken Hill-based operator Buses-R-Us (Tel:08/8285 6900, Web:www.busesrus.com.au) call at Wentworth on their thrice-weekly Mildura– Broken Hill route, and there's a weekday local service linking Mildura with Wentworth (stopping outside the post office). The visitor centre (Mon– Fri 9am–5pm, Sat & Sun 10am–2pm; Tel:03/5027 3624, Web:www.wentworth.nsw.gov.au) is nearby at 66 Darling St.
The National Trust's striking Old Wentworth Gaol on Beverly Street (daily 10am–5pm; $6) ranks as the first Australian-designed jail, the work of colonial architect James Barnett who also designed the Sydney Post Office. Opposite, Pioneer World (daily 10am–4pm; $5) is a folk museum exhibiting items related to Aboriginal and European history of the area.
A small park on Cadell Street has a viewing tower from where you can see the confluence of the two rivers, and there's a reminder of headier days with the Ruby, a restored paddle steamer, tied up near where the main road crosses the Darling. Perhaps the most interesting thing to do, however, is simply to drive 6km north of town along Old Renmark Road and have a look at the amazing, Sahara-like dunes of the Perry Sandhills.
Wentworth-based Harry Nanya Tours (Tel:03/5027 2076, Web:www.harrynanyatours.com.au) organize excellent daily trips into Mungo National Park and less frequent trips to significant Aboriginal sites around Lake Victoria, accompanied by accredited Barkindji guides.
Among the various places to stay in Wentworth, the best waterfront choice is the shady Willow Bend Caravan Park on Darling Street (Tel:03/5027 3213, Web:www.willowbendcaravanpark.com; camping $20, powered site $25, cabins $61-75), right near the shops but also at the confluence of the Darling and Murray rivers. Otherwise try the Wentworth Grande Resort, 61 Darling St (Tel:03/5027 2225, Web:http://wentworthgranderesort.com.au; $76-100), for more luxury with a pool and river views.