25 September 2023

A far-flung corner of Outback NSW

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By John Rozentals.

What it’s all about … the writer at the meeting point of three states.

I’ve just spent a few hours looking back at photos of my travel-writing days — cruising to Madeira and the Canary Islands, France, Italy, Latvia, Estonia, England, Ireland, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Korea, Fiji, Hawaii, and the rest of them.

They’re all wonderful and they bring back some wonderful memories, but the real rub is that the best memories were created in my own ‘backyard’.

Yes, it was a road trip to Outback NSW that evoked real pangs — travelling to towns such as Tibooburra and White Cliffs, staying in an underground motel, and, of course, the real prize, heading to Cameron’s Corner.

Australia’s dingo fence … longest fence in the world.

It’s where three states meet. In days before proven allegations of child molestation one could easily pretend to be Jake the Peg and simultaneously have a foot in each of NSW, Queensland and South Australia.

The alternative was just to scurry around the marker really quickly.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service office in Tibooburra has an interesting enough display that includes the original marker placed at the Corner in 1880 by John Cameron, a surveyor with the NSW Lands Department.

The Golden Gully Mining Site … classy reconstruction of an 1800s mining site.

Don’t miss taking a walk along along a bit of the dingo fence. It comes very close to Cameron’s Corner and runs virtually along the NSW-Queensland and NSW-South Australia borders for some 650 kilometres.

And while you’re at Tibooburra, have a cleansing ale at the Family Hotel, where the walls of an otherwise completely normal Outback pub are lined with paintings by the likes of Clifton Pugh, Russell Drysdale and Howard William Steer.

The Packsaddle Roadhouse … a handy watering and lunch stop.

They used the hotel as a base while painting the surrounding countryside and, indeed, Pugh was an absentee landlord from 1988 to 1994.

Overnighting at White Cliffs in a disused opal mine — indeed in the world’s largest underground motel — is certainly a different experience, from the constant 22-23ºC temperatures to the lack of external light, which means you don’t really know what’s going on above ground, and the white-washed earthen walls.

It’s great fun meandering along the tunnels of the motel to find your room, and the historical display is top-notch.

An interesting route my room … the underground motel at White Cliffs.

Legendary spin bowler Bill ‘Tiger’ O’Reilly is probably White Cliff’s most famous son. The 188cm aggressive cricketer played 27 Tests between 1932 and 1946 in a career that saw him often picked in the same side as Sir Donald Bradman, with whom he shared grudging admiration. His birthplace remembers him through Bill O’Reilly Oval.

Yes, the north-western corner of NSW really is an extraordinary land.

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