At last we are on the road, making our way to start of a long planned Simpson Desert crossing. Our desert entry is at Mt Dare on western edge of the Simpson Desert, so to get there we need to traverse 2,900km of outback roads and tracks.
We always try to take different routes on our travels, to see new and interesting places, and on this trip we chose to head across northern NSW and through Cameron Corner, the junction of the Qld/NSW/SA state borders. This route includes a run across The Cut Line road that links the iconic outback towns of Bourke, Wanaaring and Tibooburra.
This is an area first seen by Europeans when Sturt’s expedition passed through in the 1840s in his search for pastoral land and a great inland sea. It proved to be tough country to settle due to long periods of drought punctuated by good seasons that also meant floods and isolation for months on end.
Day 1 involved an 830km drive from home to the town of Brewarrina where we camped by the river at the Four Mile Reserve just out of town. Here we also met first of our travelling companions Bruce and Deb who are also in a TVAN.
After an early start we drove to Bourke to refuel and get latest advice on road conditions given that we were to soon drop off the black top and head onto dirt roads that had been closed until only days before. The gregarious service station attendant, who was formerly a truck driver in the area, advised that the roads were open but soft in places. With that news and a Chiko roll for morning tea we headed west, to back of Bourke.
120km beyond Bourke the bitumen ended so we aired down our tyres to suit the gravel roads we would be on for a week or so. Other than the usual dust the Cut Line was in great shape after being groomed by a grader since the recent rains.
We made good progress through the day and soon reached perimeter of the Sturt National Park, a former sheep station called Mt Wood that was acquired by NSW National Parks and is now the site of extensive conservation areas aiming to repopulate the desert with endangered marsupials. We called by the old Mt Wood Homestead site to check out the fantastic collection of old pastoral relics including horse drawn water pumps, old steam engines and other machines of a bygone era.
Next stop, Tibooburra, a remote township tucked into the far north-western corner of NSW where we refuelled and posted some mail, then went to find our camp site just out of town at the ominously named Dead Horse Gully (at which we found lots of healthy live horses haha).
Day 3 promised to be an inter-state adventure that included a run through roads still open with caution to 4WD vehicles only after recent rain.
First part of the days’ drive would take us out of NSW via more of the Sturt NP desert country. This included the Wild Deserts mammal reintroduction area where endangered bilbies, , bandicoots, native quolls and other marsupials are being returned to safely fenced large scale enclosures in the desert. Here we also found an incredibly detailed Big Bandicoot sculpture formed completely of wire netting left over from construction of the conservation enclosures.
We arrived at Cameron Corner but unfortunately couldn’t go into the famous Corner Store as it was closed due to COVID, but we made a short drive in and out of Queensland and back into South Australia to mark our stop at this tri-state border outpost.
Remainder of the days’ run would take us through north eastern SA on three of its iconic outback roads. Beginning with a run over the roller coaster dunes of the Strzelecki Desert from Cameron Corner to Merty Merty Station – then down half the length of the Strzelecki Track – before turning on to the track from Mt Hopeless Station to our destination at Arkaroola.
Although uneventful the route took us through some spectacular desert country, varying from red dunes to white sand plains and eventually to the impressive escarpments of the northern Flinders Ranges – to see more of our adventures through South Australia enroute to Mt Dare check out next blog update where we explore Arkaroola, Coober Pedy and the road to Mt Dare.