Sturt National Park - Outback NSW
Tucked into the northwest corner of the state, Sturt National Park is widely recognised as one of the gateways to Cameron Corner; the meeting place of the Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales borders.
However, the park’s history is what is most intriguing about this literal ‘corner’ of the world. Starting at the park’s namesake, Charles Sturt was the first white man to pass through the area, in 1845. His journey was a fated one, as the intrepid explorer started his journey with the purpose of finding the mooted inland sea of Australia.
Early settlers were of the belief that there was a sea in central Australia because of the inland flow of many significant rivers closer to the coast. This made Sturt so confident of his expedition that he actually hauled a whaleboat with him, though his hopes were dashed soon after his second in command died. Met by the harsh landscape of Sturt’s Stony Desert northwest of Sturt National Park, the expedition was finally brought to its knees soon after the expedition party ventured into the Simpson Desert to the west. Sturt’s diary records his party’s defeat at the hands of the mighty outback when he questioned: “Is there no end to this interminable desert?”
However, 4WDs and today’s access to facilities mean explorers can experience the solitude and scenic beauty of Sturt National Park without the mortal fears Sturt himself had. The western half of the park collides with the Strzelecki Desert, which is why it is seen as the best stretch of outback terrain in New South Wales. The park’s landscapes range from wetlands, gibber plains and claypans, which give way to rolling desert dunes that seem to go on forever.
Aligning with the state borders and hence bordering Sturt National Park is the iconic Wild Dog Fence, which was constructed in the 1880’s to keep dingoes out of the southeast corner of Australia. Standing as the longest fence in the world, you can see part of this icon by visiting another: Cameron Corner.
On the southeastern side of the park is Tibooburra, which is home to piles of mushroom-shaped tors that bleed colour at sunrise and sunset in a way that is typical of the outback. Justifying that Tibooburra means ‘heaps of rocks’ in the local Aboriginal language, for 25,000 years the Wangkumara and Maljangapa groups have roamed this region. This timelessness that is attached to Sturt National Park and the surrounding region is what draws so many modern day explorers to it, with its sheer size and vivid yet simple composition giving Sturt a kind of solitude that can’t be replicated.
LOCATION: 1060km northwest of Sydney.
CAMPING: Fort Grey Campground, Dead Horse Gully Campground, Olive Downs Campground, Mount Wood Campground.