Cameron Corner, where NSW, Queensland and South Australia borders meet, is a confounding, remote spot

For those parched NSW tourists who regularly roll up in the dust at the lonely Cameron Corner Store, 1330 kilometres north-west of Sydney, in search of an illicit amber nectar, James and Melanie Fildes have a simple, well-practised retort.

"We say, 'sure, but that'll be seven grand for the beer, thanks'," says James Fildes, who co-manages the store-cum-roadhouse with his wife and one other couple. "That's the size of the Queensland government fine if you cross the border from NSW."

Ever since the pandemic began, Cameron Corner - 140 kilometres west of Tibooburra and, most notably, where the NSW, South Australia and Queensland borders meet - has been a kind of confounding border hell, and not only due to the at times searing heat.

The store, in a classic case of being so close and yet so far, is positioned in Queensland, but is also, frustratingly, only a few hundred metres from the NSW border at Cameron Corner, named after John Cameron who surveyed the Queensland and NSW borders in 1879.

And just so no-one was under any impression that you could cut any corners at this famed corner, a gate attached with confronting COVID-19 warning signs was specially installed by Queensland authorities in order to separate the two states during the pandemic.

"It'd been tempting to say to people, 'yeah, come on through for something to eat and drink' but at $7000 the penalties for coming across are just too high for us or anyone else for it to be worth it," says James.

For months the closure has denied the store vital trade from NSW motorists, many of them grey nomads who in normal times would stop at Cameron Corner en route to outback Queensland, passing through the epic 5614 kilometres-long dog, or dingo, fence - the world's longest such barrier.

Along with the recent full bitumen sealing of the Silver City Highway, once a rutted dirt road, between the town and Broken Hill, 332 kilometres to the south, the border closure at Cameron Corner has created something of a tourism boom for Tibooburra (population 150 and NSW's remotest town).

Due to the border closure, for NSW tourists Cameron Corner has effectively become a 300 kilometre-round sightseeing trip (BYO food, water and beer) cum rite of passage, from Tibooburra.


Even though NSW travellers will now be able to pass across the South Australian border, thanks to its recent reopening, they still can't access the store until the Queensland government declares this particular border is officially open.

This means the Fildes' only customers are those from Queensland and South Australia, whereas in a normal year scores of motorists from NSW, comprising between 80 to 90 per cent of the daily traffic, would stop at the roadhouse before heading deeper into the outback.

It's not quite an antipodean Checkpoint Charlie, but for the Cameron Corner Store couple there's been saddled with the additional burden of effectively having to police the border, with the nearest Queensland constabulary almost 400 kilometres away to the east at Thargomindah.

"We're meant to be getting a visit from a Queensland police officer in a week or so to check on things," James, 27, says. "But even when the gate reopens to NSW we're still going to be responsible for checking that people have the right passes."

Until then the Fildes, along with co-managers Karen and Brett Johns face an additional challenge in terms of perusing the bona fides of any NSW motorists who may enter Queensland from the regional shires that were allowed to open this week.

Even so to James, an Englishman who honeymooned with Melanie in the outback and, fell in love with it as well as with her, decided to move there - the Cameron Corner Store, to be exact - it's all the (desert) calm before the (dust) storm.

With the resumption of overseas travel still as remote as Cameron Corner itself, he's expecting an inevitable surge of NSW visitors to the store for a happily much more reasonably-priced, entirely legal ale once the border reopens.

Anthony Dennis and James Brickwood travelled to Cameron Corner courtesy of Destination NSW. See