Cameron Corner Caper – Part 1

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This is the sixth and last in the great outback tracks of South Australia series and covers the “Corner Country”, the junction of South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, centering around Sturt National Park, Cameron Corner and Innamincka Regional Reserve.

The previous articles were:

  • Crossing the Simpson Desert (Parts 1, 2, 3)
  • Travelling the Oodnadatta Track and Old Ghan Railway (Parts 1, 2, 3).
  • The Birdsville Track (Parts 1 & 2)
  • The Strzelecki Track (Parts 1, 2, 3)
  • Goog’s Track (Parts 1 & 2)

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Accessing the area

This area is readily accessible from many different directions. It probably involves at least 1 – 2 days of travel to arrive in the general area. From New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia the most common starting point is Broken Hill, which will be the starting point for this article.

An area steeped in history, synonymous with the names Burke, Wills and Sturt and with the Cooper Creek flowing through the area. There is much to see and some brilliant camping opportunities.

The roads and vehicle suitability

The route taken in this article traverses well-maintained gravel roads suitable for most vehicles. It is certainly accessible to camper trailers and caravans designed for gravel road travel. Just keep in mind that corrugations may be just around the corner. However, for those wanting a more “hard-core” experience, there are many alternative tracks that are definitely 4WD only. These will be mentioned in the article, but not in detail.

As with all dirt roads, rain can be a problem with major downpours. This can potentially put a trip on hold for several days. Once reaching Broken Hill, allow at least a week to get a good feel for the area.

Camping spots

Although the distances aren’t vast there are plenty of great camping spots especially along the Cooper, where several days relaxing or fishing could well beckon. Reading this article together with the Strzelecki Track Parts 2 and 3 will provide a comprehensive coverage of the area.

Sturt_Desert_National_Park_Gate

To keep the rabbits out…

A Little History

The area around Broken Hill was home to the Wiljakali Aboriginal people before being visited by the New South Wales Surveyor-General, Sir Thomas Mitchell in 1841. Soon after explorer Charles Sturt came through the area on the ill-fated expedition to find a great inland sea.

As was often the case, pastoralists soon followed the explorers and took over vast tracts of land for grazing. It was then the miners turn to take riches from the land with Charles Rasp establishing in 1883 what would become one of the world’s biggest mining companies, Broken Hill Propriety, commonly known as BHP.

For the local indigenous peoples, the impact of pastoralism and mining led to the degradation of their way of life. Broken Hill is now a thriving city despite the great reduction in mining activity. It relies on tourism, a vibrant arts scene and as a major service centre for surrounding areas.

Further north the traveller passes through the Milparinka and Tibooburra area, traditional home to the Maliangaapa, Wadigali and Wangkumara peoples. Heavily affected by pastoralism and government policies of the early 1900’s requiring forced removal of aboriginal people to other “more desirable” areas, the populations soon diminished.

Some gained employment on pastoral properties and contributed to the legendary status of many aboriginal stockmen. Near Milparinka is Depot Glen, the spot where Charles Sturt and his team were marooned for many months on their quest to find the inland sea.

Camp_Fire_Yarns

This is what camping in the Australian outback is all about. Nights around the campfire sipping something tasty.

Visiting ‘the corner’

A Corner Country trip could not be complete without actually visiting “the corner”. This is the point where the borders of Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales meet. It was surveyed by John Brewer Cameron who placed a post to mark the spot in 1880. That post is now a far more substantial concrete structure and nearby stands the Corner Store, established in 1990.

From this point it is on to the Cooper Creek area in South Australia, covered by the Innamincka Regional Reserve. The history of this area is well documented in a previous blog, Strzelecki Track Part 1 – A History Lesson, where the adventures and misadventures of Charles Sturt, Burke and Wills and Captain Starlight play a central role in the European history of the area.

Travelling the Corner Country

Broken Hill is a large city with all services, so a great place to stock up for the trip. Tibooburra will provide fuel and has a small supermarket where some fresh food is available. Fuel is available at Cameron Corner and the Corner Store has a range of grocery products – just pop in and ask. The next supply point is Innamincka where fuel and a small range of non-perishable food is available from the Trading Post.

From here the next supply point depends on where you are heading. Further north is Birdsville, 410km away, while a trip south along the Strzelecki Track will see you at Lyndhurst, a 470km trip.

Now read Part 2 – Barry goes into detail about travel distances, sights, services, and accommodation in the region.

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Joined back in June, 2012

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