Gorge Loop Road drive

Sturt National Park

Overview

Tracing Sturt National Park, Gorge Loop Road drive is a great introduction to the area and its rich pastoral heritage, offering camping and bushwalking opportunities along the way.

Where
Sturt National Park
Time suggested
3hrs
Price
Free
Entry fees
Park entry fees apply
Opening times

This road is always open, but may be closed at times due to bad weather conditions.

What to
bring
Hat, sunscreen, drinking water
Please note
  • Remember to take your binoculars if you want to go birdwatching.
  • This park or attraction is in a remote location, so please ensure you’re well-prepared, bring appropriate clothing and equipment and advise a family member or friend of your travel plans.
  • There is limited reception in this park.
  • Check the weather before you set out as Gorge Loop Road can become boggy when it rains.

As one of the largest national parks in NSW, Sturt National Park can seem so vast as to be almost impenetrable. But a terrific way to tackle its size is by driving Gorge Loop Road, a 100km round-trip that offers numerous places to stop and soak up the atmosphere. Plan on 2-3 hours driving time, and a few more for breaks and bushwalking opportunities. Be sure to pack a pair of binoculars for birdwatching, perhaps at Gorge lookout, and a big picnic for lunch somewhere like Mount Wood campground.

Sturt National Park has an incredibly rich pastoral heritage, and this is where Gorge Loop Road really shines. Kick things off with a visit to Outdoor Pastoral Museum, at the turn-off from Wanaaring Road. The museum offers a terrific introduction to the area and plenty of artefacts to intrigue the kids. Not much further along is Mount Wood Homestead complex, which dates back to 1886. Now award-winning accommodation, it was once the centre of a 500,000-acre sheep station. Other old landmarks along the way include the Horton Park ruins, right as you turn off from Gorge Loop Road at the very end.

If nature is more your thing, keep an eye out for numerous emus and four different types of kangaroo racing across the gibber plains. As the drive twists into small rocky gorges, you might even spot euro kangaroos sheltering beneath rocky overhangs and gidgee trees.

Don’t forget to stop, get out of the car, and enjoy the tranquil solitude, fossicking in dry creek beds, wandering through the trees, or following the 4km Mount Wood Summit walking track, which reaches 120m above the surrounding plans. Charles Sturt, the iconic explorer, named this place in 1845 as he searched for a mythical ‘Great Inland Sea’. The sea doesn’t exist, of course, but the scenic view is a spectacular discovery.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

Current alerts in this area

There are no current alerts in this area.

Local alerts

For the latest updates on fires, closures and other alerts in this area, see https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/driving-routes/gorge-loop-road-drive/local-alerts

Park info

See more visitor info

Visitor info

All the practical information you need to know about Gorge Loop Road drive.

Getting there and parking

Get driving directions

Get directions

    Gorge Loop Road is in Sturt National Park. To get there from Tibooburra:

    • Follow Wanarring Road for 45km, then turn right onto Gorge Loop Road.
    • At the end of the scenic drive – the junction of Gorge Loop Road and Silver City Highway – you can either return to Tibooburra or continue onto Jump-Up Loop Road (110km round-trip).

    Park entry points

    Parking

    Parking is available at designated numbered sites along the route, walks, lookouts, and Mount Wood campground.

    Best times to visit

    There are lots of great things waiting for you in Sturt National Park. Here are some of the highlights.

    Autumn

    A great time of year to visit when daytime temperatures are pleasant and night times not too chilly.

    Spring

    Depending on the rainfall the park's wildflowers, including the distinctive red Sturt Desert Pea will be on show throughout the park.

    Weather, temperature and rainfall

    Summer temperature

    Average

    22°C and 36°C

    Highest recorded

    47.6°C

    Winter temperature

    Average

    5°C and 17°C

    Lowest recorded

    -2.8°C

    Rainfall

    Wettest month

    February

    Driest month

    August and September

    The area’s highest recorded rainfall in one day

    178.2mm

    Facilities

    You’re encouraged to bring gas or fuel stoves, especially in summer during the fire season.

    Maps and downloads

    Safety messages

    Bushwalking safety

    If you're keen to head out on a longer walk or a backpack camp, always be prepared. Read these bushwalking safety tips before you set off on a walking adventure in national parks.

    Mobile safety

    Dial Triple Zero (000) in an emergency. Download the Emergency + app before you visit, it helps emergency services locate you using your smartphone's GPS. Please note there is limited mobile phone reception in this park and you’ll need mobile reception to call Triple Zero (000).

    Outback safety

    Safety is of high priority in outback areas. In summer, temperatures can reach up to 50°C in some places. Food, water and fuel supplies can be scarce. Before you head off, check for road closures and use our contacts to stay safe in the outback.

    River and lake safety

    The aquatic environment around rivers, lakes and lagoons can be unpredictable. If you're visiting these areas, take note of these river and lake safety tips.

    Prohibited

    Gathering firewood

    Firewood may not be collected from the park.

    Pets

    Pets and domestic animals (other than certified assistance animals) are not permitted. Find out which regional parks allow dog walking and see the pets in parks policy for more information.

    Smoking

    NSW national parks are no smoking areas.

    Visitor centre

    Nearby towns

    Broken Hill (275 km)

    About 10 km from Broken Hill, in the middle of the Living Desert Reserve, is Sundown Hill, the site of the Living Desert Sculptures. Follow the easy walking trail that takes you past these beautiful sandstone sculptures, even more striking in this desert setting.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Tibooburra (27 km)

    Tibooburra is the most remote town in Outback NSW. It's also the gateway to Sturt National Park, where you can camp out under the stars. Features of the park include rolling red sand dunes, flat-topped mesa, eagles, corellas and kangaroos.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Wilcannia (249 km)

    The small historic town of Wilcannia is located on the famous Darling River in the NSW outback. The nearby remote Mutawintji National Park offers a uniquely Australian experience, with its historic Aboriginal sites and captivating rugged desert terrain.

    www.visitnsw.com

    Learn more

    Gorge Loop Road drive is in Sturt National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

    A vast and varied precious landscape

    Rocky hills in Sturt National Park. Photo: John Spencer

    Tibooburra means 'heaps of rocks' in the local Aboriginal language, and you can't miss the rocks - ancient granite tors that surround Tibooburra and line the road on the way to the park. This contrasts with the red sand of the desert on the western side of the park and with the 'Jump Ups' that rise from the plains in the central part of the park. Wherever you go in Sturt National Park, you're sure to be inspired by the dramatic changes in scenery and amazed by the true scale of the vast, arid expanse of outback.

    • Jump-Up Loop Road drive A fantastic self-guided car tour of the outback country of Sturt National Park, Jump-Up Loop Road drive offers scenic desert views, historic heritage and excellent birdwatching.
    • The Granites walking track Explore the geological history of Sturt National Park along The Granites walking track. See wildflowers, kangaroos and lizards as you walk over the ancient boulders.

    Ancient connections

    Sturt's Tree walk, Sturt National Park. Photo: John Spencer

    Sturt National Park is the traditional land of the Wangkumara People, whose Country extended from what is now southwest Queensland and northeast South Australia down through Tibooburra to Milparinka. The Wangkumara People travelled widely throughout this large and arid land to make the most of waterholes, permanent soaks, useful plants and animals. Today there is much evidence of the Wangkumara People's connection with this land - throughout the park you might notice middens and stone relics; reminders of the role this landscape played as the giver and sustainer of life.

    • Jump-Up walking track Discover the landscape of Sturt National Park along the Jump-Up walking track; you’re likely to see Aboriginal sites, wildflowers and kangaroos along the way.

    A waterbird oasis

    Lake Pinaroo, Sturt National Park. Photo: OEH

    Lake Pinaroo is around 80 km north west of Tibooburra and 24km south east of Cameron Corner. In 1996, it was listed as an internationally important wetland under the Ramsar Convention because of its retention of water for long periods, and the rarity of wetlands in arid NSW. Lake Pinaroo plays a crucial role in the survival of many plants and animal species, and supports large numbers of waterbirds and waders, including international migratory species and threatened species. When full, Lake Pinaroo is a stunning contrast to the dry landscapes of Sturt National Park. You can see waterbirds like the freckled and blue-billed ducks, and large flocks of unique desert birds such as the budgerigar, when the lake is full. Try Camping or bushwalking near this beautiful lake, or go along one of the three self-guided scenic drives through the park. You can also visit cultural heritage sites such as the old homesteads, a historic woolshed and Sturt's tree (when Lake Pinaroo is dry).

    Life of birds

    Red kangaroo (Macropus rufus), Sturt National Park. Photo: John Spencer

    The ephemeral Lake Pinaroo was classed as a Ramsar wetland area in 1996 and is the largest terminal basin in this area of NSW. When Lake Pinaroo contains water, it's home to countless species of waterbirds, including threatened waterfowl like the freckled duck and the blue-billed duck. You might even see brolgas and grey falcons hunting prey.

    • Sturt’s tree walk Charles Sturt’s expedition into the Australian outback is an historic event. The walk across the dry lakebed of Lake Pinaroo takes you to the site of a marked tree.
    • Wells walk Take a break from drive touring to explore the Corner Country of Sturt National Park along the Wells walk. Explore varying outback landscapes and pass historical relics.

    Heritage values of the homestead

    Outdoor Pastoral Museum, Sturt National Park. Photo: John Spencer

    Historic Mount Wood Homestead is located on the oldest sheep station in northwest NSW, taken up around 1881. Listed on the State Heritage Register, it’s one of the most complete examples of a self-reliant sheep station in the region, spanning 368,385 acres. It was a hub for washing sheep wool on the long journey by camel train or cart to Wilcannia, prior to shipping. Today, the woolscour is a rare example of a complete set of wool washing equipment, and the only 19th century station-based scour in NSW to survive intact. Surviving the harsh outback, you can still see the original stone hut built in 1890, a stone homestead (1897), and an art deco-styled homestead (1935). There’s also a woolshed, shearers’ quarters, woolscour, blacksmith shop, stables, windmills and outstations. The  buildings provide a fascinating window into pastoral life and changing technology over almost 100 years.

    Plants and animals you may see

    Animals

    • Wedge-tailed eagle. Photo: Kelly Nowak

      Wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax)

      With a wingspan of up to 2.5m, the wedge-tailed eagle is Australia’s largest bird of prey. These Australian animals are found in woodlands across NSW, and have the ability to soar to heights of over 2km. If you’re bird watching, look out for the distinctive diamond-shaped tail of the eagle.

    • Emu, Paroo Darling National Park. Photo: John Spencer

      Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae)

      The largest of Australian birds, the emu stands up to 2m high and is the second largest bird in the world, after the ostrich. Emus live in pairs or family groups. The male emu incubates and rears the young, which will stay with the adult emus for up to 2 years.

    • Red kangaroo, Sturt National Park. Photo: John Spencer

      Red kangaroo (Macropus rufus)

      The red kangaroo is one of the most iconic Australian animals and the largest marsupial in the world. Large males have reddish fur and can reach a height of 2m, while females are considerably smaller and have blue-grey fur. Red kangaroos are herbivores and mainly eat grass.

    Plants

    • Sturt's desert pea. Photo: Jaime Plaza

      Sturt's desert pea (Swainsona formosa)

      One of Australia’s most famous desert wildflowers, Sturt’s desert pea is found across inland arid regions of Australia, including far west NSW. One of the most easily-recognised Australian native plants, Sturt’s desert pea thrives in red sandy soil, or loam, and has vibrant red leaf-shaped flowers with a black centre, known as a ‘boss’.

    • Saltbush. Photo: Jaime Plaza

      Saltbush (Atriplex nummularia)

      A hardy Australian native plant, the saltbush is a small spreading shrub that can withstand dry salty soils such as those found in the desert plains of western NSW. It is grey-white in colour and has small spear-shaped succulent leaves. It flowers from December to April.

    Environments in this park

    Education resources (1)

    Desert shrubs and red earth in Sturt National Park. Photo: John Spencer/DPIE