CornEr CoUntrY, sA/nsw/qLD
A special corner of the country
If you want to experience the most remote parts of the outback in New South Wales and, at the same time, be in one of the busiest of the lot, then you’d better be planning a trip to Corner Country or, in particular, Cameron Corner. This little beauty is merely a dot on the map, but it’s one of those adventures you need to tackle purely for bragging rights. What’s so special about this particular dot on the map? Well, interestingly, it’s the point where three states boundaries meet. Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales all rally here and there is a big post there to prove it.
Obviously, being part of three states means there a few different ways you can actually get here. For us, we were coming from the south-east But, for a greater sense of accomplishment and a feeling of real remoteness, you can take the track north from Broken Hill and follow the dog fence; but we’ll get to that a little later! For now, I’ll just fill you in on the antics we got up to on the little dirt road in.
It all started when old Whitey spotted a mob of bush chooks (emus) and wondered how close he could get to them. I remembered my uncle saying that emus are actually incredibly inquisitive animals. Rumour has it if there’s ever something strange going on, and they feel safe enough, they’ll almost certainly come closer to investigate.
“Whitey, pull over mate,” I announced over the radio. “We’ve got an experiment to do”.
Now, if you haven’t already guessed it, we’re not exactly athletes, so chasing these buggers on foot was never on the cards. So, instead, imagine two big-bellied, beer-drinking bogans, flat on their backs, squeaking and squawking, frantically while waving their arms and legs in the air. Well, we nearly bloody well burst our lungs copping a gob full of dust and it nearly worked, too! Whitey’s cackle probably didn’t help, though! Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Once we dusted the dirt off our backs, we made our way up towards the little town of Milparinka. Milparinka should be a part of everybody’s Corner Country touring route. It was once the centre of a historic mining district but, these days, it’s a living heritage site smack bang in the middle of a desert setting. Once again, the pub, or the Albert Hotel as it’s known, was the first stop. This place has carved itself a pretty darn good reputation out this way. Let me just say the beer is cold and both the steak sangas and hamburgers are worth the drive! As with most of these outback pubs, the town’s history is written on the walls. Tails of huge feral pigs caught in the area and incredible stories of a resilient past seem to be everywhere you look. The Milparinka Heritage Precinct just next door will take you by complete surprise, too. It incorporates a collection of colonial buildings with a museum and a gallery-like atmosphere. There’s a fair bit of history to sift through at the adjacent court house, whilst the adjoining cells provide an insight into the region’s remarkable mining and pastoral heritage along with some fascinating general history of the area.
THE TOWN OF TIBOOBURRA
As far as outback NSW towns are concerned, Tibooburra is like the Holy Grail in many ways. It’s named after the ancient granite tors that surround the village. In fact, the Tibooburra regions goldfields were originally known as
‘The Granites’ and formed part of the Albert Goldfields. This is like the marking point when it
sand dunes, eagles, corellas and kangaroos that give it away. The town is basically on the edge of Sturt National Park (NP), which is a major drawcard for the region. It’s roughly 344,000ha in total making it one of the largest nature conservation reserves of its kind, so you can bet there’s plenty to see and do in there. Make sure you stop in and take the Granite Walking Trail.
It’s a 3-4km loop that all but guarantees you’ll see kangaroos, lizards and wildflowers. But the real attraction on this walk is the fascinating formations of massive granite boulders. They’re the unmistakable evidence of an ancient volcano which tried to erupt thousands of years ago.
The granites were actually formed when magma was pushed up through the cracks of the earth’s surface; pretty interesting stuff, eh?
CAMERON CORNER POST
In order to tick a Corner Country trip off the bucket list, you’ve just got to grab a photo at the Cameron Corner post. Mr John Brewer Cameron from the New South Wales Lands Department did a two-year stint from 1880-82 to mark the border between New South Wales and Queensland. He’s the man who erected the post there in September 1880 to mark where the border intersected with South Australia. Apart from the post, there’s not much else to actually see, except for the local corner store and the ability to cross three borders in a matter of minutes. But here’s a fun fact for you; the store reportedly has a Queensland liquor licence, a New South Wales postal code and a South Australian telephone number! You don’t hear that every day!
The good news is, on New Year’s Eve, this place goes off like a frog in a sock! The reason being, because of the three different time zones, you get to celebrate the New Year three times in one crazy night! I don’t know if I could handle all that partying in one night, but I reckon you guys should definitely give it a go.
The general store is also the pub and service station and, as far as hospitality goes, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place in the country. In fact, if you thought you’d have to give up your Sunday arvo golf session to visit this place you’re dead wrong. You see the good folk here have set up a Tri-State golf course. Yep, there are three holes in all three states and you’ll even get a certificate to hang on your wall as a trophy!
THE DOG FENCE
Paris has the Eiffel Tower, Italy constructed the Colosseum and India built the Taj Mahal. But us Aussies, well, we built a fence to keep the dogs out! Yep, the Dingo or Dog Fence is right up there with the best of them, I reckon.
If you’ve never heard of the dog fence it’s basically a 5614km fence built between 1880 and 1885. It stretches from the cliffs of the Nullarbor Plain just above the great Australian Bight to Jimbour near Dalby in Queensland with the sole purpose of keeping dingos out of the relatively fertile lands of the south-east.
Parts of the fence utilise the likes of the South Australian and Queensland border fences and,
border fences and, luckily for me, it passes through Cameron Corner, too. Some of the stations the fence passes through and protects are larger than several different European countries, so it gives you an idea of the type of project this was at the time, and how important it must have been to make it happen. These days, the fence is still patrolled at least once a week to keep the maintenance up to spec. In fact, there are talks of it being converted into an electric fence with the number of wild camels causing it damage on the rise.
IT’S YOUR TURN NOW
A trip to outback New South Wales should be on everyone’s to-do list. And it’s true what they say; you haven’t seen the heart of the outback New South Wales until you’ve spent a few nights under the stars of the Corner Country.
If you’ve been stressed out at work, trust me, it’ll be just what the doctor ordered. If you think a trip like this is just too hard to make happen, trust me, it’s not. And if you think there’s nothing to see out here, trust me it’s an experience in its own right!
I’m not usually one to tell you how to live your life, but it’s fairly safe to say a trip like this is probably exactly what you need!
CloCkwIse from above: A special little corner of the country; The crew’s convoy rolls into town; A coldie doesn’t get better than this; Tibooburra is named after ancient granite tors that surround the village.
CloCkwise from above: There’s nothing better than a campfire to bring mates together; There’s a lot of borders out here!; A desert in bloom. Sturt NP was pretty as a picture.