THE OL’ STRZELECKI | Rides
Cos every rider worth their salt has to venture into the outback at least once, right?
The Old Strzelecki Track is part of a well-used trade route that dates back prior to European settlement. These days it is popular with riders and 4WDers, as one of the most iconic and fun desert adventures that you will find in the outback. It is not for the faint-hearted, but if you are up for the challenge it is an experience that you will long remember.
Overall this is a 383km ride that commences after you have loaded up with fuel, water and other essentials in Tibooburra, the most north western town in New South Wales. The route heads west from town on the Cameron Corner Rd, which is dirt (but frequently graded and in good condition) all the way to Waka Station 81km from Tibooburra where the track enters the Sturt National Park. Once in the park, the track condition is less reliable with sandy washes on bends and in the gullies, making it important to concentrate on your riding.
As you pass the Fort Gray camping area, continue along the Cameron Corner Rd until you are presented with a choice: straight ahead for 36km, or left for the scenic 22km ride through the sand dunes of the Sturt National Park. We took the latter, but a team of trucks was debunking a mine exploration camp in the area and the usually hard pack clay surface had been broken up, leaving nothing but soft difficult sand on the dunes.
A corner post marks the border between NSW, SA, and Qld, with the iconic dingo fence and the Cameron Corner Store as the main landmarks. From Cameron Corner, the route continues heading west over hard-packed dunes as you ride past Lindon and Bollards Lagoon Stations and on into the Strzelecki Desert. Track conditions through Bollards Lagoon are generally good, but you do need to keep an eye open for ruts caused by 4WD vehicles, especially when there is a little water on the road.
When you arrive at Merty Merty Station, 109km from Cameron Corner, the Old Strzelecki Track appears on the right. In good condition it winds along the banks and undulations of the Strzelecki Creek between Lake Moomba and Big Lake Moomba. You will find yourself out of the dune country and blazing past the oil pumps that dot the lower track. Riders with some trail riding experience will likely have a hard time holding themselves back on the fast bermy corners through this awesome 68km section of the Old Strzelecki Track.
At the end of the track, turn right onto the new Strzelecki Track and ride the corrugations and marbled gibber surface for 64km into the town of Innamincka.
If you have a suitable adventure or big-bore trail bike in your shed, it is well worth heading outback to experience at least one good desert riding trip. The Old Strzelecki Track is certainly one that we can recommend for most people who are reasonably confident riding on unsealed roads, although the sand can be a bit challenging in places, so take care.
There is reliable fuel at each side of this ride and at the Cameron Corner Store. Make sure that you know your bike’s safe fuel range, and it is advisable to carry some extra in case of emergency. Food, coffee, or a cold beer is available at Tibooburra and Innamincka. Cameron Corner is the only other option for picking up supplies along this route. A satellite phone and EPIRB are essential for outback riding. Carry plenty of water and drink enough to remain hydrated. Monitor road and weather conditions before and during your ride, and try to travel in a group of three or more, as it may take two to lift a fully loaded adventure bike off a fallen rider. Jot these numbers down: Tibooburra Police (08) 8091 3303. Tibooburra Hospital (08) 8091 3302. Royal Flying Doctor Service, Medical Emergency – Broken Hill (08) 8088 1188. And to check road conditions with the Department of Planning, Transport & Infrastructure, 1300 361 033.
Motor vehicle mechanical service is available at Tibooburra but less so at Cameron Corner and Innamincka. If traveling in these areas, it is best to have the ability, tools and parts to complete basic roadside repairs, including punctures. Spare parts can be ordered in to the local towns but you may have to wait a few days for them to arrive.
Camping is available along the route. Fort Gray offers well maintained pit toilets and barbecues. Innamincka has a range of options from B&B accommodation to camping in the town. The Innamincka Hotel has a bunk house, as well as motel-style rooms
(08) 8675 9901
Things to do
Innamincka is located in a regional reserve situated on the Cooper Creek, in the South Australian Channel Country. It is surrounded by the Sturt Stony, Tirari and Strzelecki Deserts. Home of the traditional owners the Yandruwandha people. First European exploration was by Charles Sturt in 1845. Close to the township (originally known as Hopetoun) are the Bourke and Wills DIG Tree and memorials. There are plenty of things to check out and photograph along the way, from the dingo fence near Cameron Corner, to the ruins of old homesteads dotted across the desert landscape.