STURT NATIONAL PARK, NSW
Leave the traffic and chaos behind to embrace the remoteness of Sturt National Park.
STURT National Park is tucked away in the northwest of New South Wales. Within its 3500km2 lie flood plains, desert, jump-up country, gorges and much more for those willing to explore. The park also has significant Aboriginal sites that date back 20,000 years, and pastoralism that dates back well over 100 years.
Tibooburra, 332km north of Broken Hill, provides a great base for a few days before you explore the park. Here in town you can get fuel and groceries, as well as advice on exploring the Sturt. In fact, most people only call in to Tibooburra for an overnight stay when heading further west.
On the search for inland sea, explorer Charles Sturt pushed his way through Tibooburra back in 1845. A replica whaleboat that Sturt and his men dragged into this area is mounted in the town’s park alongside other historical gear, highlighting how machinery has advanced over the years.
There are numerous tourist drives within Sturt National Park, such as Gorge Loop Road, which starts 24km east of Tibooburra. This 100km loop road explores Mount Woods and the nearby pastoral museum.
It’s a very remote, harsh area and you need to be wellprepared with food, water and communication
The Jump-up Loop Road to the north leads towards the Queensland border and the Silver City Highway. On this road you’ll find the Olive Downs campground, 55km north of Tibooburra. Here you can camp in a remote area and wander the ruins of Olive Downs station.
The 110km three-hour self-guided drive along the Jump-up Loop Road takes you through some amazing and harsh country, including desert areas, gibber rock plains and red dune country. The excellent loop is dotted with the odd tree and small rocky gorges, to give it a moon-like landscape. Be warned, though, this is a very remote, harsh area and you need to be well-prepared with food, water and communication. There is no phone reception here, so it’s best to advise someone of your travels.
Another highlight of Sturt National Park is to spend a night or two camping at Fort Grey. Located 110km west of Tibooburra, this campground is situated near Lake Pinaroo, where you can walk across the dry lakebed via Wells Walk to Sturt’s Tree. When full, this lake is alive with birds and other animals enjoying the cool waters of the outback.
Middle Road, which starts just north of Fort Grey, takes you eastward along the Wild Dog Fence (formerly the Dingo Fence) through a diverse landscape of low flood and gibber plains, and along the edges of red sand dunes. This 80km road passes the top end of Lake Pinaroo, offering vast views of the lake’s beauty. Other highlights along the way include historic bronco horse yards and several bores. Middle Road is a relatively easy drive and it joins back on to Toona Gate Road, which is 75km north of Tibooburra.
Sturt National Park has stayed virtually untouched since the days of Charles Sturt’s expedition. With an array of endangered flora and fauna, as well as historical landmarks and significant tourist opportunities, it’s a park well worth a visit.
The view from the lookout on the Jump-up Loop Road. Sunrise over Tibooburra.
Camping at Fort Grey near Lake Pinaroo. Your vehicle must be equipped to tackle some corrugations.