- Copyright © Simon Bayliss 2008-21
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In Sturt's Steps Touring Route
Drive Broken Hill to Cameron Corner
Around forty years ago, I saw a video by Broken Hill identity Jack Absolom present what he referred to as 'In the Steps of Charles Sturt'. Jack's passion for the outback was evident, and it struck a chord with me immediately for a couple of reasons. His love of the outback was an inspiration to me as an aspiring photographer, and his character/style was reminiscent of the rural characters I met as a teenager around our farm.
Additionally, I was always fascinated by Australian history and hearing him speak about the explorer Charles Sturt (and others) motivated me to know more.
Fast forward to 2008, and I was lucky enough to have undertaken the following route while sourcing travel content. I would often mention to others about this fantastic adventure from Broken Hill to Cameron Corner.
The following adventure and experience route is similar to one I covered many years ago. From that, my preferred route is either:
- Eldee Station (Silverton), Packsaddle Roadhouse, and a stopover in Tibooburra before heading out to Cameron Corner.
- Mt Gipps Station Packsaddle Roadhouse, and a stopover in Tibooburra before heading out to Cameron Corner.
Sturt' Steps Touring Route - Overview
The following touring route follows the approximate route 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.
Starting in Broken Hill, and travelling either via Eldee Station (Silverton) or Mount Gipps (Corona Road), to Milparinka then on to Tibooburra that provides a great base for exploring Sturt National Park as well as a great touring route known as the Cameron Corner Explorer.
Sturt's Central Australian Expedition 1844‐1845:
On August 10th 1844 Captain Charles Sturt led the Central Australian Expedition through the streets of Adelaide, then along the Murray and the Darling Rivers before heading where no European had been before. The quest was to find the sea which Sturt and his sponsors believed occupied the heart of Australia.
The journey failed to find the mythical lake but ultimately led to the description and interpretation of vast areas of inland Australia, which would later be opened up for pastoralism and mining. The route through western New South Wales was significantly further than the shorter distance to the centre, through South Australia. However, the commonly held belief of the time was that a series of linked horse‐shoe lakes surrounded the northern reaches of the Flinders Ranges. By taking the eastern route the impenetrable sand‐dunes and the lakes would be avoided.
In Sturt's Steps Touring Route
- Total Distance: 635 km
- Road Type: Maintained unsealed road (Dry weather only)
- Vehicle Recommendations: 4WD/AWD with clearance. 2WD with clearance and experience.
- Wet Weather Alternative: Silver City Highway
Despite the mention of Mundi Mundi (just west of Silverton) in accounts of the expedition, the published touring route of Sturt's Steps heads northeast from Broken Hill, then north at Corona Rd to Mt Gipps Station.
For those interested in a more western route via Silverton and Mundi Mundi, please see Silverton to Cameron Corner (via the Dog Fence) touring route.
Sturt's Steps Route Detail
Milparinka and Surrounds
Milparinka is one of only two townships surviving in the Corner Country - the other being the larger community of Tibooburra - and is 296 km north of Broken Hill, 39 km south of Tibooburra, and 1,465 km from Sydney. All around the red dusty soils of Outback New South Wales stretch to the horizon. Gold was discovered in 1880, Milparinka became a thriving town, but today it is a shadow of its former self. A reminder that only the hardest of human beings can live in such severe conditions.
Not far from Milparinka along the touring route is an area that provides some great insights to the Sturt's expedition; Depot Glen, Pooles Grave and Mount Poole. 13.9 km west of Milparinka, via Hawker Gate Rd
Depot Glen, on Preservation Creek, and was the base camp for Charles Sturt's expedition party for six months unable to move forward or backward because of extreme heat and drought. The explorers constructed an 'underground room' in Depot Creek, a tributary of Evelyn Creek, where there was a permanent waterhole. Having access to this water, they survived the drought.
While the leading group of Sturt's expedition pushed north, a second group stayed at Depot Glen waiting for their return. To keep the men busy Sturt had them walk to Red Hill (Mt Poole) each day 'to give the men occupation and keep them in health', where they constructed a cairn.
James Poole, the second in command, died of scurvy on this expedition and was buried near Depot Glen. A beefwood tree with his initials carved in the back marks the grave.
The only trees on the gibber plains in the vicinity of Mt Poole are river red gums lining the beds of the ephemeral streams. In the deeply-incised bed of Depot Creek, the tree roots reach down to the water that flows beneath the surface along the stream beds.
After visiting Poole’s Grave, Depot Glen, and Mt Poole (Red Hill), the adventure continues back at Tibooburra, about 55 km back up the highway, the perfect base to explore the Corner, including the drive to Cameron Corner!
With Tibooburra as a base, it is time to explore the region, and there are several great touring experiences along the Cameron Corner Explorer.
Sturt's Route - Guide Download
To download your copy of the Sturt's Touring Route Brochure, please use the following link:
Touring Guide is regularly updated...sign up to keep up to date to keep your map up to date!
Our Other Corner Touring Partners
The Family Hotel will welcome you with that great outback hospitality that is a welcome change from the rushed and impersonal ways of the ‘big-smoke. Located in Tibooburra, Outback NSW, Australia.
The Corner Country Store is situated in the town centre of Tibooburra, look for the "i" offering visitor and road information. Offering friendly service, selling fuel, tyre repairs, gas refills, ice, real coffee, homemade food and more.
The Granites Motel/Caravan Park was established in 1985 in time for the Tibooburra School Centenary Celebrations. It started with five motel rooms and four second-hand caravans with an amenities block and a few powered sites.
TJ's Roadhouse, Supermarket, Restaurant & Cafe. For all your travel provisions including Supermarket, Cafe, Restaurant, Beer Garden, Post Office and Vehicle Repairs, TJ's Roadhouse, Supermarket, Restaurant & Cafe, has everything you need for your visit to Tibooburra and Corner Country.
Wanaaring Store and Caravan Park, right on the Paroo River, a tributary of the Darling River, Life is too short to stay in one place....so come and visit the outback!
*** Safe Outback Travel ***
Before heading out to the outback, for the safety of you and fellow travellers (and as a courtesy to those living in the outback), please to the Safe Outback Travel for tips and hints to get the most out of your next adventure.