Camooweal to Cameron Corner, QLD
In his chase for the endless summer, Greg Cartan spills the dirt on touring the outback roads between Camooweal and Cameron Corner.
We’d played around in the Northern Territory on the Binns Track for a few weeks and stopped at Katherine for a tidy up and to restock. Our schedule meant there were still three weeks before our commitments in Adelaide needed attention. So we started tossing around ideas for a different way to get home. The Trakmaster had proven itself on the Binns, so rough roads weren’t an issue.
Funny what you can conjure up over a few beers and wines (and Champagnes for that matter). We wanted to stay north for as long as possible to avoid the cold winter back home. We wanted to be in remote country and give the rig a bit more of a workout. We wanted to camp out as much as possible. A rough plan was hatched: head over to Camooweal on the Queensland border, then sticking close to the border aim south to Tobermorey and Boulia, drop into Haddon Corner and stop over at Innamincka, then say hello to the troops at Cameron Corner. After that, a quick run to Adelaide and back to the cold weather. Here, I’ll tell you about the Camooweal to Cameron Corner section as that was the most interesting.
We did a quick 1100km dash from Katherine down the Stuart and across the Barkly Highway to Camooweal. The things you decide to do after a few red wines!
Camooweal has a caravan park and a free camping area down by the billabongs. We arrived in town late in the afternoon so we stayed at the caravan park for a night. This would allow us an early start to swoop on a good site with water views. The park is behind the pub, and you book in at the bar. The facilities are pretty good, really, and include a camp kitchen if you want to be sociable. The backpacker serving behind the bar was very easy going, perhaps a little too so, as he kept taking the money even though the park was full causing a few weary travellers a bit of angst. It was Sunday, so there were no pub meals, but the roadhouse across the road provided a good basic feed at a reasonable price.
The campsites along the billabongs are popular like any free sites with water, but there are many to choose from. By the way, when I say water, I don’t mean the clear flowing type, but rather the dirty brown with mud-edging variety. But it’s water. We scored really friendly neighbours, a bit of shade and some space around us, so we stayed a couple of nights. The daytime temperature was about 28°C – who needs Adelaide in winter?
The next day, we fuelled up before turning south on to the dirt towards Tobermorey, 300km away and our camp for the night. But first we wanted to experience the delights of Urandangi on the way. This is your quintessential mini bush town! At a rough guess, I’d say there are a dozen or so locals in Urandangi and both times we’ve driven through we’ve seen a few sitting under the big tree singing along to the guitar. It’s a friendly place. Camping is available on the other side of the creek in a couple of designated areas, about 5km from town. Ask Pam for the directions.
We travelled another 95km and arrived at Tobermorey. The trees and grass were a welcome change from the dry flat plains, and there were a few campers when we arrived, many coming off the Plenty from Alice or heading west off the Donohue from Boulia. It’s a really comfortable spot for an overnight refresh or to stay for a couple of days. The shower and toilet facilities are quite good, there’s fuel and a very small shop. We found it to be quite comfortable.
Our next destination was Boulia another 250km on a dirt road. A population of 250 or so means the town is well established by outback standards. Facilities include a library, servo, store, information centre, coffee shop, and a substantial, well setup caravan park. It’s known as a place to view the Min Min lights spectacular. There’s even an encounter centre to get a better understanding of these very unusual, and somewhat elusive lights. But we weren’t staying for the show. We settled for a quick light beer (pardon the pun) at the pub instead, just to show support for our outback towns, and went in search of more dirt.
Working our way down to Innamincka, we decided to divert a few kilometres and take another look at Haddon Corner. This is the north east corner of South Australia, bordering Queensland. I recalled from previous visits that there were a couple of large dunes on the access track and thought we’d check it out with the new and heavier (2500kg) van. As it turned out, the dunes were quite firm but I walked them with my camera in hand while Tricia drove across. I also wanted to inspect the other side of each dune, because we had to get back on the same track. Our tyres were already lowered about 10psi below normal for general dirt-road driving and that worked well here.
The Corner is just the ‘post’ surrounded by plains of gibbers and caked sediment typical of this Channel Country. Some kind soul has erected a shelter and picnic table! And that’s it. So why go, you might ask? Because it’s there.
THE POINTY END
It was time for a rest day and Innamincka was the spot. There are a lot of interesting things to do in the area like visit the Coongie Lakes, check out the waterholes or track down points of historical interest but this was our eighth visit so sightseeing was not our goal. We were there to sit!
We set up camp on the common a few hundred metres from the store. It was unusually quiet and we snagged a site right on the Cooper River. The fish weren’t biting but there was plenty of birdlife and it was very peaceful. Some fees apply, depending on where you go and for how long, so check the Innamincka Trading Post and National Parks SA. The pub is the place to chat with locals and travellers. The meals were top shelf, too.
Cameron Corner – the intersection of NSW, QLD and SA borders – was next on the agenda. We took the old Strzelecki Track out of Innamincka. Although it’s signed ‘4WD only’, the surface is good if taken at a moderate speed. I prefer it to the main road to Moomba which gets heavy use and can be rough. We passed Merty Merty and Bollards Lagoon and at 216km dusted our way into the Corner Store, right on the border.
So that’s two corners done. The Trakmaster and its inhabitants did good (as they say). But we’ve still got to get to that elusive fourth corner (Surveyor-Generals) over west one day – if they let us in! But in the meantime, all that was left of our trip was the sprint into chilly Adelaide.
Our route began west of Mount Isa at Camooweal, south past Haddon Corner, Innamincka to Cameron Corner, the north east point of South Australia.
Phone Outback Queensland Tourism Association on 1 800 247 966 or visit www.outbackqueensland.com.au for more information.
Visit the Boulia Shire tourism site at www.boulia.qld.gov.au for more information.
Drill down via Flinders Ranges and Outback at www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/Find_a_Park/Browse_by_region/ for more on the Innamincka Regional reserve.
Visit the Innamincka Trading Post at www.innaminckatp.com.au for more information.
Check out the full feature in issue #98 March 2016 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.