Marking the Corners

Ron and Viv Moon — 4 October 2018

Just a few weeks ago the missing plaque at Surveyor Generals Corner (where the borders of South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia meet) was replaced. The small group of people responsible included Barry Allwright, who had surveyed the South Australia/Northern Territory border in the first place back in the 1960s, the current Surveyor General of the Northern Territory, Rob Sarib, and the Aboriginal Traditional Owner (TO) of the area, Linda Eddy.

A new info sign has also been erected explaining why there are, in fact, two corner posts located here about 50 metres apart. I can remember being there with the late Lance Eddy, the then TO of the Corner area. He laughed when he detailed his reasons, “Those silly surveyors, they didn't get it right”, he continued, emphasising with a thump of his hand on the selected post, “this one here is the right one!”

The real reason is a little more technical than that, but you can't say you've been to Surveyor Generals Corner unless you visit both corner posts. But there are a few more important border markers you can visit when touring the outback.

Most travellers take in the Cameron Corner post (New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland borders) when in that part of the world, north-west of the outback oasis of Tibooburra. Having the Cameron Corner Store nearby with pleasant camping, good food and cold beer makes it an even more attractive destination for a lot of people.

Poeppel Corner (Northern Territory, South Australia and Queensland borders) is another well-visited corner post, with most Simpson Desert travellers stopping there for the obligatory pic. The one that stands there today is a replica, with the original hidden away in a museum warehouse in a leafy suburb in Adelaide. Reg Sprigg recovered the original 1884 marker back in the 1960s, and gave it to the Surveyors Museum in Adelaide for safe-keeping. When that august institution folded, back who-knows-when, the post vanished. I spent six months making trips to Adelaide trying to track it down before I found it under a dusty white sheet in a musty building. It was in remarkably good condition, but sadly it went back under the cloth and into the warehouse after I left.

More recently I was at Haddon Corner (meeting place of the South Australian and Queensland borders), somewhere I hadn't been for damn near 30 years. It was a matter of taking the longish detour out to the corner, having a pic or two taken and then returning to from whence we came.

Just last December I went looking for a corner post that few people had heard of. McCabe Corner officially only came into being in 2008. It marks the corner of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, and it was named as such by the Surveyors General of the states involved. There's a post and an info sign on the Victorian bank of the Murray River at this point, but getting to it by vehicle or on foot is difficult, to say the least.

The track network shown on any map bears no resemblance to what is on the ground, while private land and wet boggy tracks thwarted my last attempt. Still, you can get pretty close at Higgins Cutting (part of the Murray-Sunset National Park) where you can launch a small boat or a canoe for the short paddle to the fabled corner. I haven't made it there ... yet! But this summer I'll make a more concerted effort to get to what is the last corner post I've yet to visit. If you get there before me, let us know how you did it, can you? 


Rob and Viv Moon have been pipped at the post by the fabled McCabe Corner but they're not giving up without a fight camper camper trailer adventure explore australia offroad 4x4 4WD