Is Wilcannia really that Bad??

Submitted: Sunday, Apr 13, 2003 at 18:52
ThreadID: 4379 Views:17936 Replies:19 FollowUps:17
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Hi all, currently planning a trip out to Cameron's corner and beyond, starting from Sydney. I have heard some horror stories about Wilcannia and was wondering if the town is really that bad. Also wondering if there are any areas in general that we should avoid (or alternatively visit) on our way from Syd to Sturt NP via Broken Hill. We will be travelling by ourselves (wife and three year old daughter) and have had a bad 4wd experience previously, so hoping to avoid any stress this time around. Unfortunately the Pathie doesn't drive past many bowsers without a drink, so we need to plan well re:stops. Any advice greatly appreciated.Moggs ( Normanhurst NSW)
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Reply By: Member - Sam - Sunday, Apr 13, 2003 at 19:40

Sunday, Apr 13, 2003 at 19:40
Moggs,

we stopped in Wilcannia mid afternoon on our way through to White Cliffs from Nyngan. Worth a look around at the bridge, river etc. Can't give you any details re staying there though.

cheers,
Sam.
AnswerID: 17525

Reply By: PeteG - Sunday, Apr 13, 2003 at 19:49

Sunday, Apr 13, 2003 at 19:49
Moggs,
At Wilcannia the locals are a bit unfriendly to tourists. Best to stay alert for signs of trouble (rock throwing or attempting to stop you). If you do stop "post an armed guard". Wife was on a bus that got stoned a couple of years ago and last year a gentleman tried to make me stop.

As a deviation a run along the Darling from Bourke to Wilcannia may be worth considering. Trilby Station (33km south of Louth on West side of River) has a range of acomodation facilities (or camping if desired). There is a bit of water coming down the Darling now and the Yellow Belly are biting well a bit further north.

Also the Medindee lakes about 100k out of the Hill (not been there myself) and believe is very dry at the moment but should get some water soon.

Regards

Pete G
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Reply By: wheely - Sunday, Apr 13, 2003 at 20:54

Sunday, Apr 13, 2003 at 20:54
Dear Moggs,
We stayed at the caravan park on the northside, over the bridge. Very nice lttle park with very friendly operators. The bus from the club in town picked us up right at our site, dropped us at the club for a lovely chinese meal and dropped us back at our site again. We went for a drive through town the next morning for a look and then headed off. It was very quiet and we had no problems what so ever. We had heard alot of stories and were abit concerned but we wouldn't hesitate to stop there again
Regards Wheely
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Follow Up By: Pelly - Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 13:38

Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 13:38
Hi Moggs, I think Wheely may be getting confused. I think Wheely is thinking about Bourke when talking about the C/park and pick bus etc.
Did you say when youre planning the trip we'll be in the same area Camerons Corner, Innamincka etc sometime dueing this Easter break and the week after. We may see you along the way I'll be travelling with Wheely.
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Follow Up By: Member - Moggs - Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 14:56

Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 14:56
Hi Pelly, I wish I was going there this easter, but not possible. We will be travelling there around late May / early June. Enjoy the trip - would love to hear how it went when you get back.Moggs ( Normanhurst NSW)
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Reply By: Member - Cocka - Sunday, Apr 13, 2003 at 21:48

Sunday, Apr 13, 2003 at 21:48
Hi Moggs, We went through there to Camerons a couple of years back for New Tears Eve (the millenium) we had three parties for the 3 time zones at the corner.
We didn't stay at Wilcannia but went on up to Whitecliffs where its worth a stay in the underground motel and a tour of the mines, ask for Jock he's a bit of a character.
Coming back we camped a couple of nights in Bourke at the Kidman Caravan Park (recommended) and visited the Aboriginal show in Brewarrina (v good).
In all of the N/W NSW towns the tourist offices will tell you not to attempt fate and leave things seen in your vehicles etc. Park wisely, don't be conned and you'll be OK.Carpe Diem
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Reply By: Member - Dave- Sunday, Apr 13, 2003 at 22:40

Sunday, Apr 13, 2003 at 22:40
Moggs,

My personal choice would be not to stay at Wilcannia over night, its the sort of place that everything could be fine but when it goes wrong, it goes wrong. I lived and worked in Broken Hill in the late 80s, and our area went from the Qld border to Vic border, have done jobs at menindee and then spent nearly 5 years down stream on the darling river. There is some great places out there.Pooncarie is one place on race day that does go off. Menidnee has a lot to offer. I never worked in Wilcannia, but dealt with a lot of people who lived there. I last visited Wilcannia in 1996 visiting a work mate and left a 7 stone german sheppard to mind the car overnight to stop the car, or its contents being stolen. ( Can happen anywhere but chances are higher there). Stayed in a fairly safe residence. The problem is a couple of rotten apples spoil the lot, which tarnishes the good. This makes it hard for local business people and residents who are having a genuine go. Now that I have kids I will never stay there or work there if I could avoid it. Personal knowledge of bad experiences stay with you. This is just my opinion but do not like to bag a town that has people trying hard to do better.
AnswerID: 17542

Follow Up By: PeteG - Sunday, Apr 13, 2003 at 23:28

Sunday, Apr 13, 2003 at 23:28
Dave,

Like you when you have a bad experience it tends to bag the whole town.
The rocks at the bus caused a few $ damage and that was noted at the time. However de-ja-vu and some time later you experience the slow amble across the road - unfortunately I have to live with she who must be obeyed and her previous experience.

All said and done one should always hide temptation and take the usual precautions , but then some places earn their reputations. Having been around a bit, I must say that I have had worse experiences in PNG than in Aus. The main factor seems to relate to grog and pension day.

By all means I do not suggest that no-one should go to or through Wilcannia - "just be alert but not afraid". Obviously from posts so far the score is about 50/50.

A bit away from the town centre could be totally different as usually that sort of troublemaker is a bit lazy.

Pete G
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Reply By: Member - Scotti - Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 01:20

Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 01:20
G,day Moggs.

Went through Wilcannia Nov last year.We were told by someone in Broken Hill don't stay there at night.On that info we stayed about 15km short of Wilcannia inrest area(had pop up van). Soon after we stopped that night police went flying past us.We learned the next morning thet locals had burned down house.
The next day all was quiet when we arrived there for fuel but there were a few locals hanging around streets.We just fuelled up and moved on and had no trouble.The advice we got was daytime is fine but don't arrive there after dark.

Cheers.

Hooked on 4WDrivin'
AnswerID: 17551

Reply By: PETER - Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 07:01

Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 07:01
i was warned off by the fact that even tourist busses do not stop now. love the area and when i go i am taking my fridge magnet - see if it works up there - it's worked down here so far - thank the lord . have a great day regards peter
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Follow Up By: Member - Moggs - Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 11:42

Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 11:42
Fridge magnet? Am I missing something? What's this fridge magnet thingo?Moggs ( Normanhurst NSW)
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Reply By: Member - Rohan K - Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 09:54

Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 09:54
Moggs, we have some friends that had a bad (scarey) experience there last year, similar to the one mentioned above. Several locals forced them to stop by blocking the road in front (under the guise of crossing the road). Then a number more (friends said a dozen, but adrenalin does funny things to perception) moved in and started threatening and abusing them. They had to reverse back down the road, being persued, until they could U-turn and high-tail it out. We were planning a trip along the same route you mention, and they advised we by-pass the town completely.

I wouldn't want to see that lavely Pathie damaged.Be good, or be quick.
Rohan
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Follow Up By: Member - Moggs - Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 10:25

Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 10:25
Hi Rohan, thanks for the info. Do you have any additional info on which is the best bypass???Moggs ( Normanhurst NSW)
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Follow Up By: Member - Rohan K - Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 11:19

Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 11:19
From which direction were you intending to approach - from Broken Hill, or from the east? I'd highly recomend you start your trip from BH, visit Silverton either while based at BH or as part of the trek north. Rather than heading from BH back to Wilcannia and then north, the Siver City H'way from BH is the most "popular" route to Tibooburra and Innamincka. But watch your fuel. Its recomended that you have enough for a range of 650 Kms (absolute min is 550 kms) and I Know the Pathie want go the distance on a tank.

If you do want to head back to Wilcannia, from BH, before turning north, there are two tracks that turn north (left) just before town. One is at 10 kms out and the other at 5 Kms out of town. Both lead to the main track (don't know the name) that takes you north to White Cliffs, then swings west, then north again and brings you back to the Silver City H'way at Cobham.
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Follow Up By: Member - Moggs - Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 11:33

Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 11:33
Sorry, I should have made it clearer. I was under the impression that you had to pass through Wilcannia to get from Syd to BH. There are obviously other ways, however we will be trying to get to BH quite quickly and then take our time from there. Which way from Sydney would you recommend??Moggs ( Normanhurst NSW)
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Follow Up By: Member - Rohan K - Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 13:00

Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 13:00
Yes, there are other ways - but thay are somewhat longer. I assume you'll be heading in (west) on the Barrier H'way. After running west for a while, the Barrier H'way swing north north-west toward Wilcannia about 19 Kms out of town (at an intersection with the Cobb H'way coming in from the south. Swing left onto the Cobb H'way and about 100 metres on (south) there is a 10 km long 4WD track continuing west (TR). This takes you onto an unsealed road that heads south-west to Menindee where you turn north-west again to BH. If you miss the first 4WD track, there is another at 4 kms south of the intersection. This one is 16 kms long and takes you to the same Menindee-bound unsealed road about 7 kms south of where the first one comes out.

This alternate route is about 240 kms long from the Barrier/Cobb H'way intersection to BH, whilst following the Barrier H'way directly through Wilcannia is about 215 Kms long (and I'd assume faster, as its a major road).

I've not travelled this alternate route, so can't comment on the state of the roads or tracks.

Good luck planning.
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Follow Up By: Member - Moggs - Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 14:54

Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 14:54
Thanks Rohan, I'll have a look at the maps and see if I can work the route you suggested.Moggs ( Normanhurst NSW)
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Follow Up By: Member - Moggs - Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 15:03

Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 15:03
Rohan, one last thing - how do you get your rig profile to only appear in Replies and not also in Follow-ups???? Oh yeah, go the Pathies.Moggs ( Normanhurst NSW)
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Follow Up By: Member - Rohan K - Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 09:38

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 09:38
Do you have OziExplorer (or similar) and the NATMAP raster maps?

Re your second question - just lucky, I guess (read: "I have no idea").

BTW, where'd you get the roof rack?Be good, or be quick.
Rohan
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Follow Up By: Member - Moggs - Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 12:17

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 12:17
Hi Rohan, yes we have Oziexplorer and the Rastor CD's. However I'm only now starting to get the hang of using them. I find the Rastor maps difficult to interpret sometimes. As for the roofrack, I explored many options including getting the Rhino 1810x1000 alloy tray on the Rhino Commercial Bars on tracks. I found this not to besuitable as 1. it would have cost around $1,100 including tracks and feet, and 2. the alloy tray has very few tie down points. In the end I made contact with Sunshade Products who are based in Adelaide. Their website is www.roofrack.com.au. They have been around for a long time and supply ready made racks and do custom work, all done by themselves in their factory. The rack I ended up with is a custom variation on the 4wd off road racks that they supply standard. It is steel, zinc dipped and black powder coated with an alloy wind deflector and a mesh base with void sides. It also includes a spare wheel mount. The rack itself is set on some low profile Rhino feet (they call them pygme feet) on a Rhino track. They attach to the rack via 3 channels that are incorporated (welded) into the base. Total cost was $600 shipped to Sydney, including the feet (but not the track as I already had it on the vehicle). Their service was great. I sent them some measurements and within 24hrs they sent back a sketch and quote. They indicated 3 weeks to manufacture and I had it delivered within 2. I highly recommend them and am extremely pleased with the rack and price they quoted. As you have a Ti Pathie with rails you may need a variation on the above which I am sure they will accomodate. They were the only people I spoke to who proactively approached the Pathie roofrack problem. Hope this helps, give them a call, you won't be disappointed. CheersMoggs ( Normanhurst NSW)
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Reply By: Member - Moggs - Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 10:30

Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 10:30
Thanks to all who responded. It would seem that many have had an experience (or heard of one) in Wilcannia. I agree with the notion that you cannot bag a town due to a few bad elements, and I feel for the residents who are trying to make a life there. I would love to stop there and support their businesses, however with a three year old and a nervous wife (from a previous bad experience) I don't think we will. Probably being a bit 'precious', but hey, it sounds like there are plenty of other nice places in the region to visit. Once again, thanks for the info, even if it is a little depressing.Moggs ( Normanhurst NSW)
AnswerID: 17565

Reply By: Member - Melissa - Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 13:27

Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 13:27
Hi Moggs,

IMHO Wilcannia really is that bad. The town is badly declined, shops boarded up, dirty etc and all the usual things that go hand in hand with an outback town struggling with a MASSIVE drinking problem.

I've passed through a few times, stayed in the CVP on one occasion (during a torrential storm which had immediately followed a dust storm...very spectacular) though would have preferred not to though. We didn't have any problems but I suspect the extreme weather conditions kept would-be trouble makers at home.

My folks stayed in the CVP several years back and wanted to leave their van there whilst they went off exploring. The CVP manager advised them against leaving the van and was very specific and clear about the risks should they choose to do so. He would accept no responsibility for theft of vandalism. In the end, they left the van overnight up by the managers residence, locked up tight including the roof hatches. Happily, it was as they had left it.

We usually always stop for fuel there when passing through but large numbers of local aboriginals hanging around the servo and the footy ground next door can be VERY intimidating. We don't hang around and now we have a child, we wouldn't stop there again.

:o) MelissaPetrol 4.5L GU Patrol &
Camprite TL8 offroad camper
AnswerID: 17584

Follow Up By: Member - Moggs - Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 15:02

Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 15:02
Hi Melissa, my wife and I feel the same way - maybe ok without our daughter, but wouldn't risk it with her in tow. It's a real shame that there are places like this. It's even more of a shame that society in general shuns the problem. ie avoiding the problems some of these small towns have, even avoiding the town itself - and yes, I am embarresed to say, that I have to be counted as part of this 'society' as we will not be going there. I don't have much experience with the area around Wilcannia, however working for a large agricultural company with many properties Nth and Sth NSW the 'Wilcannia' issues are present in numerous areas.Moggs ( Normanhurst NSW)
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Reply By: Member - Ray - Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 17:31

Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 17:31
It seems we all have had a bad trip somewhere or other and ours was ok at Willcania,just a bit intimidating if you are not used to the type of locals that are there .Just time your trip to pass through during the day.
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Reply By: Steve - Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 21:05

Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 21:05
Now, lets see ! are there any more of you experts out there that want to bagWilcannia ... keep it up. it show you all up as as a load of small minded twerps ...

Wilcannia is a small town of indiginous people who have been displaced by the settlers and their ilk, who expect them to lie back and have their land and customs taken from them with nothing in return.... and when they show some sort of angst are labelled as trouble makers... the real trouble makers are the white settlers who care nothing for the indiginous of the region and who are uanable to countenance any adverse criticism....they need help from us all but only cop flack as trouble makers... wake up Australia.... help the real people of our land..
AnswerID: 17613

Follow Up By: Member - Moggs - Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 21:46

Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 21:46
Steve, I don't think any of the replies above deserve the "small minded twerps" classification. People were answering a question with reference to personal experiences. I agree that the indiginous people of country NSW have a raw deal. I believe that society as a whole needs to address the problem. Personally, I don't know what I can do in this regard, and I would be interested to hear how you help them. However I don't see the connection between the indiginous debate and personal safety with respect to travelling through Wilcannia. I have made the decision not to travel through the town -a decision that was not based on race, but on the well being of my wife and daughter. I don't care if any potential danger to my family arises from white or black Australians - if there is a potential threat, and if I can avoid it, I will. It has nothing to do with the whole Aboriginal thing, it is a personal safety issue. Lastly, I resent your aggresive tone - it was unwarranted and offensive. If this is the way you go about helping indiginous Australia they are in even more trouble than you imagine. Moggs ( Normanhurst NSW)
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Follow Up By: Member - Rick - Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 23:13

Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 23:13
wow steve,,,,thats really good,,you've turned a simple question about a fellow traveller taking a route into a race issue. wake up mate, i've had the misfortune to travell through wilcania on a number of occasions over the years, and most of the replies to moggs question are correct. have a good look at your antagonistic reply, and then see if you would want someone with that attitude on your side.....
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Follow Up By: Member - Rohan K - Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 09:48

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 09:48
Gee Steve, I've seen only 2 postings from you and both have been aggressive and offensive, not only to the individual asking the question, but clearly to a number of fellow forum users. I bet you behave similarly on the tracks and airways, giving the rest of us 4-wheelers the bad name we don't deserve. Just like Wilcannia, eh? You don't live there, do you?Be good, or be quick.
Rohan
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Reply By: PeteG - Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 22:05

Monday, Apr 14, 2003 at 22:05
Steve,

Harrassing people or damaging their property is not an acceptable way of engendering support. To regard people as small minded twerps shows a lack of understanding of the issue on your part.

As the depth of discussion on this forum shows it is a well recognised problem which is gaining notoreity. Perhaps your great knowledge, talent and knowledge could be applied to fixing the problem.

Pete G
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Reply By: Rusty - Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 12:04

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 12:04
Well Steve

Have any other pearls of wisdom for us all?? Or are you going to keep your keyboard quiet. I guess from what you have said you don't have any ideas either. Pretty easy to just shot your mouth off with the the usual comments we've all heard before.
Lets hear how your going to fix it. I bet you won't even respond will you.

Regards
Rusty
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Reply By: Rusty - Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 12:07

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 12:07
PS Mr Mogg

Do let us all know how you went. I am planning of the same sort of trip around August/ September. I would be grateful for any info from you trip
Regards
Rusty
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Reply By: Jinki - Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 12:52

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 12:52
Having read all of the above responses makes us feel a little scared!!!! Planning to head from BH to Cobar via Wilcannia in mid to late May. Towing 22 foot full caravan and brand new tinnie on top of 4WD. Whilst our 4.8 Patrol has big fuel tank,but with all that weight may need a fuel stop at Wilcannia. Is the servo so bad as described above. Don't think we have any other option but to go that way, as we cannot take the van off road and go from BH to Bourke. I lived in Mildura 35 years ago and Wilcannia was bad news then but didnt realise just how bad it might be now. Any thoughts anyone? Thanks Jinki
AnswerID: 17661

Follow Up By: Member - Rick - Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 23:23

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2003 at 23:23
hiya jinki....simple answer to a simple question...:)
simply time your stop at wilcania for the early afternoon...around 2pm.....that way you are stopped/camped far enough away the night before,,,,and you can put a bit of distance under your belt by the time you pull up for the evening..
ensure the van is locked before arriving....get the rough amount of money that you will use at the servo ready.....hubby gets out...wife locks doors...fuel up...pay...and away you go...:)
oh,, and another little thing to remember is,,,dont rock up on pension day,,,time it for a few days after if you can...ring centrelink for info.
and it always pays to ring the servo b4 hand to make sure they will be open when you get there...:)
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Reply By: Jinki - Wednesday, Apr 16, 2003 at 05:59

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2003 at 05:59
Rick

Thanks for your helpful suggestions - we will take heed.

Jinki and Harry
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Reply By: Richard Holland - Wednesday, Apr 16, 2003 at 15:15

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2003 at 15:15
I lived in Broken Hill & still have a house there. I have had the pleasure (I don't think) of being at Wilcannia on pay day & a few other days when as they say "The natives are restless". The place has very little to offer & other than a fuelling & ice -cream point we rarely stop. There is a reasonable rest area west of Cobar on the left, about 110 km out from Wilcannia (McCullochs Range), we stop there a lot as it is large, open & has a toilet & kids playground and you normally have company. There is another rest area at Springs Creek, about 80 km west of Wilcannia, it is not bad, it has a toilet & a kids playground also.

I have never, ever, heard of any travellers having a bad time in that area, and at one time it was my job to be really interested in such goings on.

There are two caravan parks in Broken Hill, I suggest the one on the Adelaide Road (Rakow Street) next to the cemetary, and there is another at Silverton (Penrose Park), but is a bit basic, but cheap & within walking distance of the pub.

The road from Broken Hill to Tibooburra is good & is well maintained, though the RTA will close it if there is rain. This road is fenced & camping is not encouraged for a good bit of its length. I understand that fuel is still available at Packsaddle about halfway.Milparinka has a number of places you can camp, just go to the pub, they'll tell you where you can go.

There is not a great deal at Cameron's Corner, except the dog fence & the store, which is in Qld, but not by much. If you want a place to camp drive one or two klicks down the track by the dog fence, don't worry about the sign that says it's a private road cause it ain't, or you can go a bit further on to Bollards Lagoon Station you can stay there for a small fee.

You are going into a good part of the world, but expect the "freight component" to be added to everything & the water (even in Broken Hill) can be a bit "jungley", suggest you take your own or try & get some rainwater. The Darling River is afain running so the lakes at Menindee should be getting some water by this, there is good camping there, either on the river or near the lakes & there is Kinchega National Park which also has camping. I suggest you go to the Tourist Information Centre in Broken Hill and get everything they have to offer about the area.

Oh yes, observe the fruit fly quarantine signs as the Dept of Ag has a roadblock just east of Broken Hill & they staff it quite often. Tomatoes are "fruit", not vegetables, which they'll allow in. I lost that round.

Anyway enjoy the best part of Oz

Dick Holland
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Reply By: Member - Jeff - Wednesday, Apr 16, 2003 at 21:14

Wednesday, Apr 16, 2003 at 21:14
Don't go thru there on dole/pension day or day after. Use to travel the road a fair bit and from Syd would stay at Cobar then thru to B'Hill. Don't really recommend going thru there late arvo.
I bought fuel there a couple of times and while I was paying a local was bludging a smoke from my wife - all was Ok except my wife was asleep with sunnies on and the block said "WHAT R YA STARING AT" , wife woke with a shock - gave the old bloke a smoke and bleep off.
They are in a viscious circle out there - no hope for the kids, all know that they will get the pension and every white fella is the enemy - the people are a mix of tribes from all over the place due to the "Assimilation programs of the gov't" where they were moved from their own tribal areas and put into missions ! These tribes did not get on with each other to begin with - so we have to expect trouble - money, nothing to do, no jobs, a pub, no respect for gov't(law) and all the beliefs and traditional ways have gone (not totally) - so there are some concerns in this town.

Anyway choose the right time and it will be Ok - or do what my brother did he broke down 5Km outside of Wilcannia and walked in with his dog - no one came near him - they are all scared of dogs because all the town dogs are virtually trained to rip ya apart.

PS. Up at Tibooburra go see the Warratta / Bendigo gold fields between Milparinka and Tibooburra - ask NPWS about details - great little 4WD trip.
Have fun, Cheers BeddoCheers, Beddo
Surf KZN185
<- Nifold Plain, Cape York
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