Tucked away in the north-west of New South Wales, Corner Country is a destination where outback characters, history, wildlife and adventure intersect.
Story By Therese Hall
"The light is so strong out here,” says artist Roxanne Minchin as she applies paint to a wall mural in the bar of the Family Hotel in Tibooburra, a tiny town in north-west New South Wales. “A lot of artists come out here because of the light and the colour.”
Roxanne’s mural depicts the Wild Dog Fence, which draws a line between the states of South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, just 140 kilometres up the track from Tibooburra. It is a new addition to the ‘Family’, immortalised in the 1960s when artists Clifton Pugh, Russell Drysdale and Fred Williams turned the pub’s walls into masterpieces while exploring the region with their easels.
These days, light and colour are still drawing visitors to the 55-square-kilometre swathe of semi-arid country north of Broken Hill known as Corner Country, although the famous walls of the Family Hotel and the Wild Dog Fence – at more than 5000km, the longest fence in the world – are other compelling reasons to come. But most visitors have Cameron Corner in their sights when they visit. Here a post marks the spot where the New South Wales, Queensland and South Australian borders meet. “Touching the post is on many people’s ‘bucket list’,” says Cameron Corner Store publican Fenn Miller.
There are indeed many reasons to visit Corner Country. Upon close inspection, the straw-coloured landscape reveals gibbers, mesas and ephemeral lakes. There’s a rich history of tenacious miners and pastoralists, and fanciful explorers such as Charles Sturt, who was so certain of finding an inland sea that he hauled a boat on his 1845 expedition into the area. The national park named after him guarantees the sight of abundant wildlife, such as emus and euros (a species of kangaroo). And then there are the locals. As Fenn says of the Corner’s long-time inhabitants: “They aren’t many but, geez, they’re lovely.”
An interesting week-long loop sets out from Broken Hill along the Silver City Highway via Tibooburra to Cameron Corner, and then takes a return journey via Olive Downs, a former Kidman station now incorporated into Sturt National Park, and several sheep stations. On this 1100km journey, a two-to-one mix of dirt and bitumen, there are four outback pubs to sample, ample signs of early exploration, pastoralists to meet and a rich mining heritage to dig into.
This story excerpt is from Issue #80
Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2012