Sturt National Park, Outback NSW
Sturt National Park, located just to the north of Tibooburra, presents the visitor with insights to outback Australia's geomorphology. From the iconically red rolling sand dunes of the Strezlecki desert to the flat-topped mesas and the 450 million-year-old granite tors surrounding Tibooburra, a Sturt NP visit is a once in a lifetime experience.
Sturt National Park is 344,000 hectares and the largest in New South Wales.
Prior to becoming a National Park, the area was decimated by overstocking during 1880 and 1910 through pastoral activities. Half of all the wildlife in the area was driven from the land by graziers to the extent that most of the edible saltbush and copper-burr was destroyed.
Nonetheless, since the park's dedication in 1972, the vegetation has returned to what remains the best stretch of real outback desert in New South Wales. The reserve contains both Aboriginal habitation (mostly middens and stone remnants) and European pastoral history.
The park's topography is startlingly different ranging from red sandhills rising 15 m above the clay pans, dry creek beds and small rocky gorges, and gibber plains (stony desert), and 'jump-up' country. The 'Jump-Ups' are isolated mesas which rise forlornly above their flat surroundings to a height of 150 m. The flora is predominantly mulga bushland and arid shrubland, although a rich carpet of wildflowers can emerge after heavy rains.
The park is inhabited by red kangaroos, euros, and many lizards and birds including dotterels, the Pratincole - also known as 'Roadrunner', wedge-tailed eagles, kestrels and babblers (which characteristically follow each other through the trees and along the ground). A lake appears occasionally providing a temporary haven for waterbirds. At the western end of the reserve is Explorers Tree where Sturt once buried food.
Drives and walks are popular in this unique reserve, with camping areas at Dead Horse Gully, Mount Wood, Olive Downs and Fort Grey. They all have toilets, gas barbecues and water. Camping fees apply, but bookings are not necessary, Ring (08) 8091 3308 for further information.
The northern and western border of Sturt National Park is famous Dingo Fence that stretches from the Darling Downs in Queensland to the Eyre peninsula on cliffs of the Nullarbor Plain, massive 5,000+ kilometres.
The eastern section features adventurous drives including the Gorge Loop Road and the Jump-Ups Loop Road, exploring this eroded mountain range. Of course, a trip to Cameron Corner is a must. Or take a trek along Middle Road for fantastic vistas at regular lookouts along the way. Fort Grey, Olive Downs and Dead Horse Gully or up to Mt Wood's summit are also excellent options for moderate walks.
Sturt National Park Self-drive tours:
- The Gorge Loop Road: This trip around Mt Wood and the Mount Wood Hills covers 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 known as the Jump-Ups are the remains of an ancient eroded mountain range leaving the 150m plateau (Mesa) and the granite strewn plains which 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, Fort Grey - provisions stockade built by explorer Charles Sturt for his inland expeditions, and on to Corner Corner and the Dog Fence.
Sturt National Park Visitor Information:
- Park Office: Briscoe Street, Tibooburra NSW
- Website: Sturt NP
- Telephone 08 80913308