Drive Sydney to Cameron Corner
Road Less Travelled - Adventure Route
Over the years, I have travelled many different ways from Sydney to Cameron Corner and the Corner Country (visiting towns like Tibooburra and Milparinka) crossing the Darling River anywhere between Bourke and Menindee. The best routes of my decade+ touring have always been the road less travelled, away from the traffic, to explore the lesser-known towns and localities.
One of my favourite adventure routes from Sydney to the Corner is to cross the Darling River near Louth, then head downstream to Wilcannia via Tilpa.
Leaving the Darling, the route heads northwest to Mutawintji National Park, via White Cliffs, then re-joining the Silver City Highway at Packsaddle, 175 km north of Broken Hill.
From Packsaddle, it is a drive north along the Silver City Highway for a stop at Milparinka (40 km south of Tibooburra). While it may take a few extra days, it is a great adventure and better than just sitting on a highway wondering how far it is to the next destination.
Getting to the Darling River (Louth)
The run out of Sydney and across the Blue Mountains, for me, has always been the worst part of the trip. Still, once you descend the Blue Mountains, you feel the stress and the strain of the city stip away, and the journey begins.
From the city centre, the route follows the M4, Great Western Highway/A32 and the Castlereagh Hwy to Mudgee. Then it is Goolma Rd and Golden Highway to Dubbo and the Mitchell Highway to Nyngan before heading west along the Barrier Highway to Cobar.
Now the fun begins! From Cobar, it is north along Mulya Road to Louth.
The Route to Louth:
- Sydney to Mudgee - 266 km
- M4, Great Western Highway/A32 and the Castlereagh Hwy
- Mudgee to Dubbo - 126 km
- Castlereagh Hwy, Guntawang Rd, Goolma Rd, Gollan Rd and Golden Hwy
- Dubbo to Louth - 433 km
- Mitchell Hwy/Trangie Rd, Barrier Highway, Mulya Rd.
The Darling River
Once in Louth, it is time to head across the Darling River then 20 km southwest along the western bank to Dunlop Station which makes for a great stopover (river camping, cabins as well as shearers quarters). An alternative to Trilby Station is Kallara Station a few kilometres upstream from Tilpa. Both are great and worth a stop at both for those who have not experienced these two iconic Darling River farm stays.
From Trilby Station, the route continues about 65km to Tilpa. While only a small town, Tilpa is a must for a stopover where you can experience one of the best outback pubs in NSW as well as a general store that reputedly makes the best burgers in the outback (they are good). Be sure also to drop into the pub and sign your name on the wall for a gold coin donation that goes to the RFDS.
With Tilpa done, it’s time to head north into the back-country via Peery Lake and White Cliffs (this route is unsealed).
Peery Lake is a haven for wildlife and is created from not only the overflow from the Paroo River (an ephemeral tributary of the Darling River) but also from a Great Artesian Basin mound spring. The lake is not always full so it is an amazing sight when it does contain water. Being ephemeral, when it is empty or very low, the spring is visible and it is the only location in NSW where a spring-fed from the artesian basin can be seen.
Continuing on from Lake Peery via the Wilcannia-Wanaaring Road and then Keraro Road, after about 50km, the next destination of White Cliffs is reached.
The town of White Cliffs owes its existence to seam opal which was found in the area and started NSW’s first opal boom towards the end of the 1800s. A shadow of the former self, White Cliffs is a ‘must visit‘ outback town with a great pub, general store, underground motels and B&Bs, as well as being the location of the new NSWPWS centre.
From White Cliffs, the route heads across to Mutawintji National Park, one of the most beautiful and culturally rich in terms of indigenous history and living culture. The drive is about 130km (unsealed) with the route passing to the north of the park via the Broken Hill - White Cliffs Road.
Mutawintji National Park
Mutawintji National Park is one of the best places in Outback NSW to experience indigenous history and culture with its majestic landscapes as well as the historically and culturally significant historic site (guided access only) and is worth a couple of day's stopover (camping available). It also provides an opportunity to stretch the legs after a few days drive with 2 great walks;
- The Mutawintji Gorge Walk - a spectacular walk up the river gum lined creek to the permanent water supply in the gorge.
- Homestead Creek Walk - a wonderful 4-5hr loop (steep at times) passing Thaaklatjika (Wrights Cave which contains exceptional paintings, stencils and engravings), the Rockpools, Homestead Gorge and the Byngnano Range.
In addition to the walks, there is the excellent Old Coach Road Drive which follows the route of the old mail coach road and finishes at a wonderful picnic spot and walking trail of about 3kms that leads to the Wana Karnu (Boomerang Rock) and the majestic Split Rock.
Back on the road, it is an easy 60km to the Barrier Highway for the run north via Packsaddle and onto Milparinka, 240km north along the Silver City Highway then Tibooburra.
Alternative (More Direct) Routes Sydney to Cameron Corner
From Sydney, it is a pretty standard drive north-west as far as Nyngan, 550km along the Castlereagh, Golden and Mitchell Highways. The town of Nyngan makes for a great stopover with good accommodation and eating options. Alternatively, the Bourke route (see below), which is a further 200km along the Mitchell Highway. Whatever the choice, remember not to try and cover too much in one day, and try to avoid driving at dusk (or dawn) when there is a higher chance of encountering kangaroos on the road. They can do a lot of damage.
Bourke is a great place to stop for a few days and experience all that is on offer from this wonderful Darling River town (a highlight when doing the Darling River Run) on the edge of the outback with its great accommodation options, as well as some good restaurants and cafes. Bourke is worth a stay of at least a few days as there is so much to explore. To reach the Corner Country from Bourke, it is a good drive (sealed and unsealed) west via Wanaaring (190km) and then Tibooburra (225km).
The Barrier Highway route via Broken Hill (and a visit to Silverton), is a better option for those who are new to outback driving as it minimises remote unsealed driving. After a few days to experience the best of Broken Hill, it is a 330km drive north along the Silver City Highway to Tibooburra.
The Final Push - Cameron Corner
There are a few different ways to get to Cameron Corner from either Milparinka or Tibooburra; and also from Broken Hill (for those that took a more direct route to Broken Hill.
Drive Broken Hill to Cameron Corner
Besides the obvious route of heading straight up the barrier highway to Tibibburra (or Milparinka) then westward through Sturt National Park to Cameron Corner, there are two wonderful adventure (unsealed) routes to the Corner.
Sturt's Steps Touring Route
Sturt's Steps follows a route that approximates that taken by Captain Charles Sturt during his 1844-45 inland expedition. With no public roads across the Barrier Ranges, we begin the journey further north than the line taken by the expedition.
Leaving Broken Hill the journey begins at the old Yanco Glen turn-off on the Silver City Highway and heads over the ranges past Mt Gipps Station and Tarrawingee township ruins before meeting the road running northward from Silverton.
> More More information on Sturts Steps Touring Route
Along the Dog Fence Touring Route
Leaving Broken Hill head out to historic Silverton to take in the many attractions. Enjoy lunch at one of several business houses before taking the road northwards across the Mundi Mundi Plain, heading for an overnight stay at Pine View adjacent to the Wild Dog Fence. Sturt's waterhole on Flood's Creek is located on Pine View.
The journey continues northwards across the sand dunes of the Simpson-Strzelecki dune fields before turning eastward after Smithville. Well signposted along this road (which leads to Milparinka) is the turn-off to the north which goes through to Waka where it meets the road from Tibooburra to Cameron Corner.
> More More information on Along the Dog Fence Touring Route
Heading to Cameron Corner from Milparinka takes in some wonderful history and historic landmarks like Depot Glen, Pooles Grave and Mt Poole, before joining up with the main route between Tibooburra and Cameron Corner (Cameron Corner Road). Head out to the Corner along Cameron Corner Road and return along this road to reach Tibooburra, with Fort Grey a primary point of interest on the way.
Depot Glen & Mount Poole:
During the 1840s, explorer Charles Sturt set out in search of the fabled inland sea and, while travelling north through this area, was in despair due to the lack of permanent water and at one stage was going to return to Adelaide. But one of his party, James Poole, discovered a permanent waterhole about 15km northwest of Milparinka that provided a perfect base in the harsh wilderness. The place was named Depot Glen.
With this as a base, the advanced party headed north. A few kilometres from Depot Glen, the was a hill (now named Mount Poole) that not only provided a lookout for Sturt's expedition but is where the remaining party built a rock cairn in order to occupy the time of the base party while they waited for Sturt's return.
It is an amazing experience to stand on top of Mount Poole and, like Sturt's party, look out to the horizon, as they did. They had little to occupy their time, except for building the cairn, and were truly isolated.
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