Corner Country Loop - Darling River
Bourke <> Tibooburra <> Broken Hill
The largest side-trip (loop) off the Darling River Run takes in the western-most part of outback New South Wales, the Corner Country. The adventure route links Bourke on the Darling River , with Tibooburra via Wanaaring. In turn, Tibooburra (and Milparinka) is linked to Broken Hill via Packsaddle with Menindee being the southwest terminus for this adventure.
The Corner Country is the area in the far north-west of New South Wales, bound by the Queensland border to the north and the South Australian border to the west; the borders meet at Cameron Corner (aka Camerons Corner).
The area, characterised by diverse and beautiful landscapes, is dissected by the rugged Barrier and Grey Ranges, with the Simpson and Strzelecki Deserts to the west and the Bulloo overflow in the northeast.
The Corner Country is an area rich in Aboriginal heritage, endeavours of explorers such as Sturt and Burke and Wills, as well as stories of European settlement as pastoralists and miners.
Within the Corner Country, there are some iconic outback pioneer towns like Milparinka and Tibooburra that share a heritage of early explorers like Charles Sturt, (1845) as well as the short-lived gold rush of the late 1870s.
Ephemeral creeks and lakes are interspersed amongst the Barrier and Grey Ranges, and dunes of the Simpson-Strzelecki Dunefields, while sandstone mesas rise from ancient sea-beds.
The iconic outback townships of Milparinka, Tibooburra and Wanaaring of the Corner Country each have their measure of character, characters and history.
Roads through the Corner Country are dry weather only. Some follow the route of explorer Charles Sturt. In contrast, others follow travelling stock routes or the Cobb and Co tracks with each leading to a station property or township for an unforgettable Corner Country experience.
Originally called "The Granites", in reference to the ancient granite tors that surround the town, Tibooburra was part of the Albert Goldfields.
Tibooburra is the closest town to the magnificent Sturt National Park, situated in the northwest corner of NSW, bordering South Australia to the West and Queensland to the north, this massive park provides the visitor with a great insight into the geomorphology of outback Australia.
Ancient eroded mountain ranges and vast gibber plains quickly illustrate the concept of the inland sea that early explorers believed covered the interior of Australia. The park also provides several vantage points for the Dingo (Dog) Fence.
In the eastern section of the park, there are three excellent and informative self-drive tours:
- The Gorge Loop Road: This is around Mt Wood and the Mount Wood Hills cover the outdoor pastoral heritage museum, Mt Wood Homestead & shearers' quarters, the Gibber and Mitchell Grass Plains, the Twelve Mile Creek Gorge, and the old pastoral remains at Torrens Bore and Horton Park Station. Wildlife such as Emu, Kangaroo, and Wedge-Tail eagles are commonly sighted.
- The Jump-Ups Loop Road: The ancient landforms that are known as the Jump-Ups are the remains of an ancient mountain range that have been eroded down over millions of years leaving the 150m plateau (Mesa) and the granite strewn plains that form the catchment of the Connia Creek (Ephemeral) which follows south-east into the Twelve Mile creek.
Cameron Corner: The drive from Tibooburra to Cameron Corner takes the visitor through a diverse landscape including the Waka Claypan, past Fort Grey which was a provisions stockade built by explorer Charles Sturt for his inland expeditions, and on to the Corner and the world's longest fence; the 5,000+ km Dog Fence which was constructed to keep roaming Dingos of the north and west out of the pastoral lands of NSW.
Unlike a lot of the surrounding area, gold was never discovered at Milparinka, but something more precious was... water, and that becomes the inherent nature and value of Milparinka.
A township developed along the waterhole in the Evelyn Creek, while gold was mined at Mt Browne, Albert, and The Granites (Tibooburra).
In time, Milparinka grew into a substantial township with four hotels, a bank, shops, a library, a newspaper office, a police station and courthouse, a Cobb and Co office, a school, a post office and more. Plans were made to build a hospital. The telegraph was linked to Sydney in 1896, and coach services arrived twice a week from Wilcannia and later Broken Hill.
Today, Milparinka is a ghost of its former self, but a heritage township has much to offer. A devoted local community group has restored four of the most significant buildings, the courthouse, police station, gaol cells, and former kitchen and turned them into a vibrant, awarding-winning Heritage Precinct. One of the original hotels, the Albert ( now known as the Milparinka Hotel) still operates today.
A walking trail around the township connects significant historic locations, while ongoing survey work is reconstructing the original town layout. A pastoral museum, public gardens and pioneer memorials complete the attractions.
Today beautifully restored colonial buildings provide the venue for interpretive and visitor information. At the same time, garden sites combine recreation and learning with hands-on mining displays for children (and the young at heart).
** NOTE: Part of this tour is on dry-weather roads.**
At 750 km it is an adventure in itself and can also include The Opal Miners Way which takes in the opal town of White Cliffs.
Broken Hill <> Tibooburra: Distance = 335 km - about 3 hours 50 mins
Route: Silver City Highway (Dry weather road)
Tibooburra<> Bourke: Distance = 417 km - about 5 hours
Route: The Cut Line (Dry Weather road)