Tibooburra is the most remote township in far western New South Wales and regarded with some pride as “the Capital of the Corner Country”. Its name is Aboriginal for “heaps of rocks” which perfectly describe the huge granite tors surrounding the outback community.
In 1845 members of Charles Sturt’s Expedition passed through the area on their way into Queensland, searching for water and a way forward to explore the inland.
Squatters followed exploration, land was taken up and livestock introduced. Eventually some of the landholdings in the area would become the largest leases in the state.
Following on from discoveries on Mount Poole and Mount Browne, in April 1881 gold was found in the area. Within a year or so almost two thousand people were living and working the fields surrounding The Granites.
Water was always in short supply and prospecting was incredibly challenging. Miners built puddling dams and waited for rain to fill them in order to process their pay dirt, or built unique machinery to dry blow the dust away from their specks of gold.
Many found the summer heat excessive and relentless and the unusual geological structure of the goldfields baffling.
In the end mining operations ceased but the town endured. The town is the headquarters for Sturt National Park, has a resident police officer and a public school. The local health service operates from the refurbished original hospital building and the Royal Flying Doctor Service visits weekly or in emergencies.
There are two supermarkets with fuel outlets, two historic hotels and several camping and caravan and other accommodation places.
The local sealed airstrip is located 5 km from Tibooburra and pick-ups can be arranged.
Local events are popular, with an annual rodeo and bikekhana and New Year’s Eve activities while locals enjoy community events for entertainment or the arts.
Those who call Tibooburra home do so because they love it. Visitors do also.
Immediately surrounding Tibooburra is an area where residents could run their cows, or goats or horses, called The Common. Today it is mostly known as a place where visitors (and locals) can fossick for gold and other gemstones. It is also an area rich is artefacts from aboriginal times and from the mining era.
Operated by the Tibooburra Local Aboriginal Land Council, the Keeping Place is a museum of features of fauna, local photographs, and indigenous artefacts from the Wadigali, Wongkumara and Malyangapa tribes. There are also arts and crafts for sale.
Follow the emus to the Reserve for camping.
Located at the end of the main street, Pioneer Park is a community owned space with barbeque facilities and artefacts from mining and pastoral history. The main feature is a replica of the boat that Charles Sturt’s expedition carried in the hope that they would find an inland sea. Upturned to demonstrate futility and covered in copper sheeting, the boat is a must-see attraction.
Originally built as a hostel for school children, recent major upgrades at the Hostel Precinct bring together the War Memorial Display, Gallipoli Lone Pine and Petrified Tree, as well as the refurbished hostel into a modern centre for the community and public. The playground, obstacle course and exercise equipment are available for use by the Tibooburra Outback Public School and the Multi-Purpose Centre.
Although run on a fairly erratic basis this is a unique outback movie experience.
Adjacent to Dead Horse Gully camping ground, Golden Gully is a reconstruction of mining sites and methods with explanatory plaques. The turnoff is 1 km north of Tibooburra.
Just north of Tibooburra is an outcrop of sandstone rocks from which the view at sundown is spectacular.
Erected in 1963 by the Australian Inland Mission for all the people of the area irrespective of denomination.
In the 1970s the leases of some of the landholdings surrounding Tibooburra expired and were acquired by New South Wales National Parks to create Sturt National Park, the largest arid zone park in the state. Recently it was expanded with the acquisition of additional properties to the east. The headquarters of the park are located in Briscoe Street, alongside the Courthouse Museum.
Circular touring routes within Sturt National Park enable visitors to enjoy to spectacular scenery and heritage sites of the park.
Mount Wood camping ground has an outdoor museum with wool scour and horse drawn whim, as well as the Mount Wood shearing shed nearby.
The 100km loop through Mt Wood Gorge includes a walking track to Mt Wood summit, the Horton Park ruins and local flora and fauna. Accommodation is available at Mount Wood Homestead and shearer’s quarters.
The 110 km round trip takes in the stunning vistas of the jump-ups, walking tracks and the bird hide at South Myers Tank. In season, the wildflowers in season are breath-taking. This is a remarkable area, camping at the secluded Olive Downs camp ground amongst the mulgas is highly recommended.
A day or so spent driving to Fort Grey and Cameron Corner is a day well spent. Leaving behind the granite tors of Tibooburra the route passes the quartz fields and opens into mulga rangeland before entering the grey-soils of the Lake Pinaroo (Fort Grey) area where Sturt camped in 1845. The red sand of the Simpson Strzelecki dune fields merge into the landscape and extend to the west.
For full details vist Sturt National Park.
Located 40 kilometres south of Tibooburra is the historic township of Milparinka. The Heritage Precinct is a complex of old and modern buildings which accommodate sixteen separate themed museum spaces, from local Aboriginal culture to Sturt’s Expedition, a unique collection of minerals, gems and fossils as well as interactive displays. No visitor to the Corner Country should miss Milparinka. Entry fees do apply.
14 kilometres west is Mount Poole where Sturt’s men built a cairn during their prolonged stay at Sturt’s Depot. This important historic site is a must-see destination.