Milparinka, Outback NSW
Corner Country, Australia
See & Do
Driving to Milparinka
How outback do you want to go? Milparinka is one of only two townships surviving in the Corner Country - the other being the larger community of Tibooburra - and is 296 km north of Broken Hill, 39 km south of Tibooburra, and 1,465 km from Sydney. All around the red dusty soils of Outback New South Wales stretch to the horizon. When gold was discovered in 1880, Milparinka became a thriving town but today it is a shadow of its former self. A reminder that only the hardest of human beings can live in such severe conditions.
During the 1870s goldrush, those seeking their fortunes headed to the region, with miners travelling overland from Wilcannia, and Farina on the Ghan Railway line, travelling overland across mostly waterless terrain. No visit to Outback New South Wales can be considered complete without pausing at Milparinka and thinking about the lives of the early settlers.
Services & Getting To
Located a short (less than 1 km) drive eat of the Silver City Highway 39 km south of Tibooburra, Milparinka will fascinate those interested in learning about the pioneering days of the Corner Country. Some buildings have been lovingly/passionately restored as has the preservation of the history of this once booming town. So much painstaking effort has gone into saving this history by volunteers, it is a must to pop in to say hi and marvel at what has been achieved.
- The old Courthouse house the Visitor Information Centre for everything you need for touring the area as well as merchandise and mementos.
- The Albert Hotel provides refreshments, meals and accommodation
Located less than 300km north of Broken Hill on the Silver City Highway, there are some great routes for getting to Milparinka from any of the eastern capitals.
Long before Milparinka was proclaimed the first town of the Albert Goldfields in 1881 it was at the crossroads of many of the region’s traditional Aboriginal storylines. In the dry desert areas where life revolves around water the waterhole on the creek on which Milparinka was established was significant for generations of Malyangaapa people.
In 1845 Charles Sturt’s expedition found the waterhole at Milparinka and camped there for a few days before relocating further into the Grey Range to Preservation Creek.
In 1880 gold was discovered in the area and Milparinka’s waterhole became a vital asset for gold washing. Gold was never found at Milparinka, but something more precious was, water. A township developed along the waterhole in the Evelyn Creek, whilst gold was mined at Mt Browne, Albert, and The Granites (Tibooburra).
Hundreds of people flocked to the Goldfields in the early days, the number diminished with the realisation of the hardships to be faced, only to surge again when a new deposit was discovered.
From a small, random collection of tents adjacent to the creek Milparinka grew into a substantial township with surveyed streets, public amenities such as a police station, courthouse, school, post office and hotels. Plans were made to build a hospital. The telegraph was linked to Sydney in 1896, and coach services arrived twice a week from Wilcannia and later Broken Hill.
But it was a short-lived existence. Gold mining had peaked, and when World War One broke out many of the area’s young men enlisted. By the end of the war life in Milparinka had changed forever.
The remnants of the sandstone buildings remained, but the majority of the people had gone.
In 1984 interest in preserving the courthouse and other public buildings led to a revival for the old township that has been maintained for thirty-six years. The Milparinka Hotel continues to trade, a camping area has been established and the Milparinka Heritage Precinct has developed into an exciting, multi-faceted group of interpretive experiences. It should not be missed during a visit to the Corner Country.
Milparinka See & Do
The Milparinka Heritage Precinct is a collection of visitor experiences spread across a one-hectare site. At the centre of the Precinct is the Milparinka Courthouse. Designed by James Barnet and built-in 1896 the courthouse has been restored and now survives in stunning condition. Three rooms are dedicated to aspects of Milparinka and the region’s heritage whilst the fourth is the “heart of the precinct”, the local Information Centre and Souvenir shop where friendly volunteers meet with visitors to the Precinct. A nominal fee is charged to enter the complex; it helps to meet the costs of maintenance and other operational expenses. Donations are always welcome.
Entering the courthouse from the rear, the first room is dedicated to the Malyangaapa people, the traditional owners of the area, whilst the adjacent room is dedicated to Charles Sturt’s expedition, the first Europeans to visit the area in 1845.
The main courtroom is an expansive, austere space, its architecture is stunning, and it has been dedicated to interpreting and illustrating some of the stories of people who made Milparinka and the district home.
The Milparinka Barracks’ Museum
Leaving the courthouse, the adjacent building on Loftus Street was constructed in 1882 as the police station, police barracks and the first courthouse. Today it still has several important public functions; the main room is a museum space with artefacts from many aspects of life in the area whilst a smaller room is dedicated to the Anzacs who enlisted during WW1, and family history research. The information has been collated about many families, births, deaths and marriages are recorded for visitors to check for their own ancestors.
Behind the Barracks is the old police lockup of two cells, heavy-duty doors and a strong bar lock designed to temporarily incarcerate offenders. The main regional gaol was at Wilcannia. Serious criminals were transported there under guard.
In 2020 the Lockup will undergo a major transition from being a mining heritage centre to becoming a gallery for local and regional art.
Further along Loftus Street from the Barracks is an empty space. Watch this space, as they say, because over the next couple of years this will be transformed into a new interpretive area. A purpose-built building will have five interconnecting themed rooms, covering subject areas like the pastoral settlement of the region, Sir Sidney Kidman in the Corner Country, the history of the wild dog fence, education, health as well as post and telecommunications.
The old Milparinka post/telegraph office.
At the end of Loftus Street are the remains of the former post office, built-in 1907. This once magnificent sandstone building is about to be restored! When complete it will provide luxury accommodation in the outback!
The Albert Goldfields Mining Heritage Centre is set away from the main Heritage Precinct, on the north side of the wide parking area. This is an all-new venture which will open by May 2020. The Corner Country has a rich mining heritage and every effort has been taken to ensure that within this space the stories told remain true to the history.
Behind the Mining Heritage Centre are two farm sheds which house further information about the settlement of the area, pastoralism, water and droughts.
In April 2020 a mural will wrap two sides of one of the shed.
Public toilets are located in this area; they are maintained daily during the tourist season by our volunteers.
Milparinka Heritage Walking Trail
Milparinka has a heritage trail that covers an area of about 5 hectares and is outlined on a sheet available at the Information Centre. Points of interest are the old school coat-of-arms mosaic, the under-ground tank behind the Baker’s Store, the ruin of the Commercial Bank and a landscape that is an archaeologist’s dream.
The local cemetery is further to the SW of the township but is a place of great interest. The names of more than 300 people were recorded as having died at Milparinka in the years from 1880 to 1920. Few headstones remain, but it is worth the walk, or drive, to visit.
Milparinka Astronomy Park
2020 will also see the establishment of an astronomy viewing area in Milparinka. The viewing area will be located on the plateau on the western edge of the town and feature interpretive panels depicting the night sky as would have been seen by local Aboriginal groups as well as Sturt and the European who followed.
The Variety Children's’ Park
Located adjacent to the cottage is a small park area with benches and displays. This area is intended as an educational facility for younger visitors to Milparinka. It houses a working model of a “dry blower” and other mining history memorabilia.
Approximately 60 native trees and shrubs are also growing in this area, as well as a site for an ongoing vegetable patch for use by Visiting Volunteers.
The Harry Blore Memorial Park
Located across the road from the Precinct is a park area that the Association has established and maintained. Featuring native trees and shrubs the park also contains a shelter, panels with local environmental interpretive material and a picnic table. A swing has been built for visiting children. Visitor Volunteers are asked to water the trees which are connected to dripper line. Blockages do occur, and some adjustments to the system need to be implemented.
Milparinka Pioneer Memorial Wall and Silhouette
In 2005 local residents constructed a stone memorial wall alongside the park, and invited the descendants of local families to provide plaques commemorating their ancestors. Complemented by a steel silhouette of a pioneer family and a wheelbarrow laden with belongings, the site is positioned to be seen first as one approaches the town. It is stark and symbolic of the region’s social history.
Pastoral Industry Interpretive Centre (The Shed)
On the north side of the Heritage Precinct, the Association has established a shed and display area that helps to interpret the pastoral industry of the region and includes information about: • The wool industry, and especially shearing • Providing water, with a complete boring plant and pump jack on display • Building fences • Animal husbandry • Grazing pressure management • Weed, pest and kangaroo management
Located just west of the township, the Milparinka cemetery is the final resting place of some three hundred or so people, although just a handful has headstones. The cemetery fence and gates have been replaced by our Association.
Map directions to the cemetery and the former Chinese Garden and Afghan cameleer campsite adjacent to the Evelyn Creek and located on the Walking Trail Guide.
The Evelyn Creek and Milparinka Waterhole
The Evelyn Creek and Milparinka Waterhole lie to the east of the Heritage Precinct. Although it remains the collection point of more than one hundred years of “junk”, it is also a valuable natural feature of the area. Native animals living along the creek include kangaroos and birds, as well as, as one Volunteer discover, echidnas.
Milparinka RV and Tent Camping
On the eastern side of the Heritage Precinct and extending down to the creek is a more than a hectare caravan and camping site. During 2020, this area will undergo significant redevelopment. The fire pits will remain and a shower and laundry block will be commissioned in March. A motorhome dump point will be installed.
A community camp kitchen will be built adjacent to the cottage that provides accommodation for the Precinct volunteers and incorporates electric barbecues, sinks, benches and seats.
At least two of the fire pits areas will become powered sites.
Adjacent to the creek a waterhole area will be de-silted creating a water feature to be enjoyed during good seasons. This area will also have camping sites established, but given the access, the terrain will be limited to off-road campers and tents.
Fees will apply, payable at the Information Centre or at the Hotel.
Exploring the Milparinka Area
Depot Glen, Pooles Grave and Mt Sturt
Depot Glen is on Preservation creek and was the base camp for Charles Sturt's expedition (1844-45 ) party for six months unable to move forward or backward because of extreme heat and drought.
The explorers constructed an 'underground room' in Depot Creek, a tributary of Evelyn Creek, where there was a permanent waterhole. Having access to this water, they survived the drought.
While the leading group of Sturt's expedition pushed north, a second group stayed at Depot Glen waiting for their return. To keep the men busy Sturt had them walk to Red Hill (Mt Poole) each day 'to give the men occupation and keep them in health', where they constructed a cairn.
James Poole, the second in command, died of scurvy on this expedition and was buried near Depot Glen. A beefwood tree with his initials carved in the back marks the grave.
The only trees on the gibber plains in the vicinity of Mt Poole are river red gums lining the beds of the ephemeral streams. In the deeply-incised bed of Depot Creek, the tree roots reach down to the water that flows beneath the surface along the stream beds.
Sturt National Park
Tibooburra is the closest town to the magnificent Sturt National Park. Located in the north-west corner of New South Wales and bordering South Australia to the West and Queensland to the north, this massive park provides the visitor with a great insight to the geomorphology of outback Australia with ancient eroded mountain ranges and vast gibber plains easily illustrating the concept of the inland sea that early explorers believed covered the interior of Australia. The park also provides several vantage points to the Dingo Fence.
In the eastern section of the park, there are 2 wonderful and informative self-drive tours:
- The Gorge Loop Road: This around Mt Wood and the Mount Wood Hills covers the outdoor pastoral heritage museum, Mt Wood Homestead & shearers' quarters, the Gibber and Mitchell Grass Plains, the Twelve Mile Creek Gorge, and the old pastoral remains at Torrens Bore and Horton Park Station. Wildlife such as Emu, Kangaroo, and Wedge-Tail eagles are commonly sighted.
- The Jump-Ups Loop Road: The ancient landforms that are known as the Jump-Ups are the remains of an ancient mountain range that have been eroded down over millions of years leaving the 150m plateau (Mesa) and the granite strewn plains which form the catchment of the Connia Creek (Ephemeral) which follows south-east into the Twelve Mile Creek.
The drive from Tibooburra to Cameron Corner takes the visitor through a diverse landscape including the Waka Claypan, past Fort Grey which was provisions stockade built by explorer Charles Sturt for his inland expeditions, and on to the Corner and the worlds longest fence; the 5,000+ km Dog Fence which was constructed to keep roaming Dingos of the north and west out of the pastoral lands of New South Wales.
Destination Partner - Milparinka
How outback do you want to go? You drive 296 km north of Broken Hill, 39 km south of Tibooburra and 1,465 km from Sydney to a small turnoff from the Silver City Highway. All around the red dusty soils of Outback New South Wales stretch to the horizon.
When gold was discovered in 1880 this became a thriving town but today it is a shadow of its former self. A reminder that only the hardest of human beings can live in such difficult conditions.
Accommodation - Pincally Station
Pincally Station is the home to Matt and Zanna Gale and their three daughters Bella, Lucy and Millie. Pincally Station was originally settled in the early 1900s by the Moyle family, and consists of 65, 893 hectares of grazing land under Western Lands Lease.
It has been owned by the Gale family since 1990. The rugged Mount Arrowsmith Hills, named by Sturt during his expedition through the region, form a backdrop to the property and homestead.
Accommodation - Albert Hotel
Built in 1882, the Albert Hotel was the first to be licensed in Milparinka and just one of four hotels in the historic township at the height of the gold rush. Despite renovations, through the years parts of the hotel remain as travellers would have found them more than a century ago.
Located just one kilometre off the Silver City Highway, The Albert is the only hotel remaining between Broken Hill and Tibooburra. Accommodation is available in some of the original rooms, or motel-type cabins, share a bathroom.