The Map Patrol are often reacquainting themselves with the off-road regions of Australia, much like two old friends catching up with one another every now and then. This trip got them very familiar with one of the richest, most intriguing of these regions: Outback NSW.
The expedition would take 18 days, starting in Currawinya National Park before rolling through Sturt, Mutawintji, Paroo Darling, Kinchega, Mungo, Willandra and Gundabooka national parks. In that time the Map Patrol would rack up 5,500km on the odometer, along the way finding some hidden gems in a region that always seems to have more on offer.
Before heading into New South Wales, the team spent a night in Currawinya National Park to whet their appetite for bush camping. They set up the Travelander GEO-Convert 2 right next to the Paroo River, and were immediately taken aback by the surrounding greenery. Thriving trees, flowering plants and vibrant shrubs made a vivid contrast to the fierce red earth and the yawning blue sky that stretched out beyond the horizon, a sight that the Map Patrol never tire of during their many expeditions.
Outback NSW Navigation & Maps
Sturt to Paroo Darling
Next it was onto Sturt National Park, where the team spent the better part of three days mapping the northwest corner of NSW. Exploring the arid landscape and rolling red dunes, the team discovered the whole region was humming with wildlife; kangaroos, emus and hawks among others were constantly adding flurries of movement to the quiet solitude of the landscape. It’s not often that the Map Patrol have the opportunity to spend more than one night in a certain area, so naturally they grabbed the opportunity to do some sightseeing and photography while exploring Sturt National Park.
As any off-road adventurer can attest to, sunrise and sunset in the outback is much more powerful than it is in even the most pristine suburban setting. The sight of the granite tors in Tibooburra bleeding colour at sunset was a natural wonder in and of itself, turning something that is a scenic wonder at any time of the day into nature’s own artwork as the sun sank over the horizon.
After experiencing Sturt the team then headed to Mutwintji National Park, where they met a true explorer who was a Hema Maps fanatic. Travelling by himself, he had almost an entire suite of Hema regional maps, each with notes and waypoints scrawled all over them. After meeting such a lively character, the team settled in for night of watching the outback television in relative silence, save for the serene sounds of a crackling fire, creaking tree boughs and rustling leaves around them in the light wind.
Paroo Darling to Mungo
The next morning it was onto Paroo Darling National Park, where the team camped at Wilga campsite after a long day on the road. The camping area was almost an oasis, with its cool and shady confines in stark contrast to the sparse exposed landscape of the rest of the national park. Situated on the river, it was lush in comparison to its surrounds, thickset trees creating an inviting spot to setup camp and relax for the evening.
From there it was onto Kinchega National Park, with flooded roads cutting the length of the visit short. While they were there the Map Patrol camped at Lake Emu, but were soon left to rue that decision as they passed by some amazing bush camps up at Copi Hollow. After making a mental note for next time, it was time to head to Mungo National Park. One of the most historically significant areas in Australia, the park is also home to some great scenic drives and landscapes. The Map Patrol took advantage of this with a drive across the dry Lake Mungo, arriving at the breathtaking Walls of China just across the lake. After camping at Belah campground the team rolled across Lake Leaghur and Garnpung Lake, taking in the white sands of the ancient beachfront to the east that are slowly converging with the red ridges to the west.
Mungo, Willandra, Gundabooka & home again
After rolling from Mungo to explore Willandra National Park, the Map Patrol then set off to Gundabooka National Park for their last night in the bush. On the way, the team was astounded by the changing scenery on the way to the Ivanhoe Road junction, with the traditional outback scene intermittently being replaced by dense pine forest. Experienced travellers of not just Australia but the world, the team likened the incompatible landscape to a Russian forest. After collecting all the data they needed in Gundabooka, the team took some time out to check out the Aboriginal rock art in the park.
After soaking in the serenity and freedom that only a bush camp can offer for their final night in the outback, the Map Patrol headed through Bourke to reach Moree. To cap off the trip the team wanted to treat themselves to some pampering, and what better way than to take a relaxing dip in the mineral rich artesian springs? Upon arrival it seemed like a lot of grey nomads had the same idea, with all 60 powered sites at the caravan park booked out. However the team finally got their wish, and acquainted themselves with the spa capital of Australia just in the nick of time to head back to Brisbane.