Sturt National Park

Sturt National Park, Sally Mayman / Tourism New South Wales
Barbecue Caravan Disabled Park entry fee Toilets Wildlife Aboriginal site Accommodation Camping area Information Picnic area Walking

Introduction

In the far north-west of the state, in so-called Corner Country, lies one of Australia’s driest, most remote national parks. Sturt National Park is a sea of sand, seemingly endless gibber plains, red rock and mulga bushes. Lake Pinaroo, near Fort Grey, was placed on the Ramsar list in 1996 – when it fills it is a significant refuge for large numbers of waterbirds and waders.

Sturt National Park is real ‘back of Bourke’ country, lying 400 kilometres west of the town touted as epitomising the outback. It is tucked into a distant corner, where the borders of New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland converge. This is arid, harsh country, intriguing for its vastness, with vestiges of exploring and pioneering history and surprisingly plentiful wildlife.

Fact file

Access

From Broken Hill via partly sealed Silver City Hwy; from Bourke via unsealed Bourke–Milparinka Rd then Silver City Hwy (check conditions as roads may be closed after rain)

Best season

Autumn to spring

Location

1504 km north-west of Sydney; 335 km north of Broken Hill; 400 km west of Bourke; 22 km north of Tibooburra

Park information

  • NSWNPWS 1300 361 967
  • Tibooburra Visitor Centre (08) 8091 3308

Size

325 329 ha

Visitor information

Tibooburra (08) 8091 3308

www.tibooburra.com.au

Featured Activities in the National Park

  • Watch for big red kangaroos, wedge-tailed eagles and emus

  • See the famous Dog Fence, the longest fence in the world

  • Head to Lake Pinaroo after rain, for outstanding birdwatching

  • Explore the area around historic Mount Wood Homestead

See Also

A look at the past

European explorers trekked through this region in search of water, grazing pastures and a route to the north of the continent. Captain Charles Sturt, after whom the park is named, spent longest – almost a year in the area in the 1840s as he searched for the mythical ‘inland sea’.

A short-lived gold rush where Tibooburra now stands brought a brief flourish of activity, but petered out in less than a decade. Pastoralists moved in and took up vast grazing properties and in 1946 began building the world’s longest fence, the Dog Fence. It slices through the landscape, a 5600-kilometre ribbon of wire stretching to the horizon. Sturt National Park was declared in 1972.

Aboriginal culture

The Karenggapa people survived in this remote area for generations before the arrival of the white man, and many signs of occupation remain, including shell middens and stone relics. Before World War I many of the Aboriginal men worked on the sheep and cattle stations.

Natural features

The red sands of the Strzelecki Desert roll in on the western side of the park, while the east has stony downs of round gibbers and Mitchell grass. Low, flat-topped hills or jump-ups rise up to 150 metres above the ground in the centre of the park. Lake Pinaroo is an ephemeral lake, only filling after very heavy rains, but it can retain water for as long as six years, attracting an extraordinary number of birds, which seemingly appear from nowhere.

Native plants

In this arid environment plant life struggles to survive. Hardy mulga, gidgee and coolibah trees are typical in the park’s east. In the west acacia and scrawny emubushes grow, providing seeds and small native fruits for birds.

Wildlife

The environment is harsh, with temperatures soaring to 50 degrees Celsius in summer and often dropping below zero at night in winter, yet this is where you will see some of Australia’s most iconic wildlife. ‘Big reds’ lope effortlessly across the landscape, wedge-tailed eagles soar overhead and flocks of emus prowl on their gangly legs. Brown falcons and nankeen kestrels are a common sight. There are many other birds (over 150 species recorded in the park), including migratory waterbirds such as the yellow-billed spoonbill, glossy ibis and sharp-tailed sandpiper. The climate and environment also suits reptiles – keep an eye out for goannas, painted and central bearded dragons, shingleback lizards, geckos and skinks.

Introduction

Call in at the visitor centre at Tibooburra before visiting the park to pick up detailed maps of walks and driving routes, and to get an update on closed roads or other information. Ask about ranger-guided tours during school holiday periods.

Bushwalking

Do not consider walking in the extreme heat of summer. There are short walks at Mount Wood, Olive Downs and Fort Grey, where Charles Sturt built a stockade to keep his party’s supplies and secure their sheep on his expedition in the 1840s.

Touring

There are loop drives suitable for 2WD vehicles or take the 4WD-only Middle Road that meanders across the park, linking the campsites and letting you appreciate the vastness of the outback. This is remote country so always carry plenty of drinking water and food. Note that roads in the park are closed after heavy rain.

Campsites

Dead Horse Gully camping area

Dead Horse Gully camping ground, set among enormous granite boulders, is about 2 km north of Tibooburra via the Silver City Hwy. The campground is close enough to pop into town for a dinner at one of the friendly... Find out more


Fort Grey camping area

On the road to Cameron Corner from Tibooburra, on roads that are unsealed and only accessible in dry weather, this campground is near the ephemeral Lake Pinaroo, providing terrific birdwatching when the lake is filled... Find out more


Mount Wood camping area

Mt Wood camping area is on gibber downs, in view of the historic Mt Wood homestead. You can get here by following the Gorge Loop Rd, just off the Tibooburra–Wanaaring Rd, but be aware that this road is unsuitable... Find out more


Olive Downs camping area

Set among mulga trees, this campground has a short walking track and a good lookout over jump-up country. This is a lovely, secluded and serene place with abundant birdlife. Going west along this road, you see some... Find out more


See Also

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