Sturt National Park is a national park in the Outback region of New South Wales, Australia, bordering both the states of Queensland and South Australia, and is home to the northwestern most point of the state.
The park was founded in 1972 and was named after Charles Sturt, who was a colonial British explorer who led numerous expeditions in inland Australia. The park was also featured in a British documentary "Planet Earth". The park also is home to parts of the Dingo Fence as well.
The park is large, covering more than 340,000 hectares (840,000 acres) of arid area. The east sides of the park has flood plains, some trees and small rocky gorges and creek beds, meanwhile, Lake Pinnaroo, near Fort Grey, is a Ramsar listed wetland.
Flora and fauna
At least 31 species of mammals, 67 species of reptiles and 197 bird species have been recorded in the park. The most notable ones include the red kangaroo, western grey kangaroo, eastern grey kangaroo, the central bearded dragon, shingleback, and the emu.
The climate of Sturt National Park is always hot, unless you go between the months of June and July, which is still ridiculously hot when compared to most of Europe and North America, or when you go at night where it'll be really cold (around single digits).
Visitor information centre
- 1 Sturt Visitor Centre, 51 Briscoe Street, Tibooburra, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 24/7, (it may not always be staffed). While the visitor centre may not always be staffed, when there is staff, they'll almost certainly give you some maps of 4WD trails as well as some outback camping tips. You can also learn about the birdlife here too. Free.
Sturt National Park can be accessed via either car or via plane, although the latter is not a stable mode of transport. While there are airstrips in both Tibooburra and Cameron Corner, both of those places don't receive scheduled flights leaving car to be the only option. From car, the only way that most travellers usually come and visit this park is via a 4 hour drive north of Broken Hill via the Silver City Highway, which is paved up to Tibooburra before it becomes unpaved.
Driving here at night is extremely dangerous and should be avoided. If you do ever have to come here at night, go no further than Tibooburra. Camp there, and then wait till the next sunrise before continuing. The dangers of driving at night here is much more greater than other places in the Outback such as Uluru.
Fees and permits
Sturt National Park has a fee of $8 per day. Spare some change, as most of these coin-operated pay and display machines don't accept card.
The park from one end to another is about 140 km (87 mi), so the options are quite obvious; car. Do bring some bottles of water and an esky as getting around will certainly need something to quench your thirst.
Much of what's to see in Sturt National Park relates to how life was living here in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
- 1 Outdoor Pastoral Museum, Pastoral Heritage Rd, Tibooburra. Learn about what life was like working as a European settler in the NSW Outback, and how typical farms looked like.
- 2 Courthouse Museum, 51 Briscoe St, Tibooburra (next to Sturt Visitor Centre), ☏ . M-F 8:30AM-4:30PM. Contains artifacts of early settlers working at sheep stations in the Outback, as well as some old equipment used by the RFDS and just old photographs. Free.
There are numerous things to do in Sturt National Park, but almost always all of them are either itineraries or hiking trails. Unlike other parks, since this park has a lot less hiking trails given that this is in the outback.
Gorge Loop Road
The Gorge Loop Road is a 104 km (65 mi) route (round trip) and takes about 2 to 3 hours to do, although the route can take a lot longer when taking breaks and when going bushwalking along the way. Starting at Tibooburra Road in the south, the first thing you'll pass is the Outdoor Pastoral Museum on a diversion to Pastoral Heritage Road. After that, before not too long, you'll pass Mount Wood in just a couple of minutes, which was once a sheep station, although in the 21st century, it's now a place to rest your head on.
After that, there road does get a bit desolate for some time, although it's very likely you'll be seeing both of Australia's national animals; the kangaroo and the emu. They may not be easy to spot, but if you look around properly, it's not hard to find them. After that, you'll end up back onto theSilver City Highway.
Buy, eat and drink
There are no cafes, restaurants or any place to eat in Sturt National Park, but there is a place 1km across the border in Queensland.
- 1 Cameron Corner Store, Camerons Corner Rd, Cameron Corner QLD, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. This is the only place anywhere in Australia to have a Qld postcode, an NSW postal address, and a South Australian phone number and one of only two places where three states meet. Provides meals, camping services, and fuel as well.
Note that both of these places to lodge are closed during the summer months (December 1 to February 28). If you're travelling to Sturt National Park in summer, and don't want to camp, then there are places to rest your head in Tibooburra.
- 1 Mount Wood Homestead, 173 Gorge Loop Rd, Tibooburra. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Built in the late 19th century, this is likely one of the closest places available to what life was like for European settlers in the Outback. It's also not too far away from the nearby Pastoral Museum.
- 2 Mount Wood Shearers Quarters, 164 Gorge Loop Road, Tibooburra. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. For those who'd like to have a real feel of how the outback was like for European settlers in the 19th and 20th century, Mount Wood Shearers Quarters is no short of that. The building was once a pastoral property, in the 21st century, it's now a unique historic accommodation. Has eight rooms, and can facilitate 32 guests.
- 3 Dead Horse Gully campground, Dead Horse Campground Trail, Tibooburra. Perched between the boulders made of granite looking like giant marbles which have been here for thousands of years, this place can be arguably considered a "see it to believe it" places, although that highly varies on opinion. Do note though, while there's water available in this area, it'll need to be treated before drinking and there are also no marked sites.
- 4 Mount Wood campground, Mt Wood Camping Area Trail, Tibooburra. This entire area is enough to tell you how it was like as a farmer in the 19th and 20th century.
- 5 Olive Downs campground, Olive Grove Walking Loop, Tibooburra. Typical outback camping. For those who are more interested in the wildlife aspects of this park rather than the historic aspects of this park Olive Downs campground is well known for the roos that frequently come here.
- 6 Fort Grey campground, Fort Grey Camping Area Trail, Tibooburra. Not only is this park next to some ruins, the sheer isolation of this campground makes it one of a few places like no other. Oh, and this place is definitely one of the better spots to go stargazing – at least when there's no dust storms.
As this park is in the Outback, take the usual precautions, and although this can never be stressed enough, bring at least five bottles with you and an esky if you're going in summer and camping out. At other times of the year, still bring an esky (except in winter), and at least three bottles of water if you're camping.
While it's easy to think that there's snakes, spiders and all these venomous creatures, the chance of you getting attacked by them is very little. They'll only do that if you do the same. On the other hand, if you do get bitten by a snake or spider, put an icepack (if you brought an esky, take some ice from there), and an RFDS plane should come after you give a ring.
There is no mobile coverage anywhere in the park, and Telstra only has coverage in Tibooburra.
Your only choices are to either head south to Tibooburra and down to the rest of Outback New South Wales, head west to Outback South Australia to towns like Innamincka or north to Outback Queensland to towns like Longreach