Mungo National Park
At the heart of the Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area in the state’s remote south-west, Mungo National Park is unique, containing a wild and arid moonscape where scattered remains (Aboriginal skeletons of Mungo Man and Mungo Woman were found here) recall human occupation over 40 000 years, making the area one of immense international archaeological signiﬁcance.
From Pooncarie, Balranald, or Wentworth via Mildura (along dirt roads, impassable after rain)
Apr to October; avoid summer as 50º C is possible
130 km north-east of Wentworth; 104 km north-east of Mildura (VIC); 70 km south-east of Pooncarie; 150 km north-west of Balranald
- NSWNPWS 1300 361 967
- NPWS Buronga (03) 5021 8900
110 967 ha
Balranald (03) 5020 1599
Mildura (03) 5018 8380 or 1800 039 043
Pooncarie/Wentworth (03) 5027 3624
Featured Activities in the National Park
Marvel at the bizarre, weather-sculpted forms of the Walls of China
Inspect the magnificent old timbers of historic Mungo Woolshed near the visitor centre
Follow the signposted Grasslands Nature Stroll
Indulge in some stargazing under the crystal-clear outback sky
Camp at secluded Vigars Well and enjoy the serenity of the bush
- Harry Nanya Tours - Mungo National Park, Recreational Indigenous, Recreational Indigenous
- Mungo National Park, Eco-friendly activity
- Walls of China – Mungo National Park, Natural Wonders, Natural Wonders
A look at the past
In the 1800s the land around Mungo was part of Gol Gol station, a vast property where, in the property’s heyday, as many as 50 000 sheep were shorn. The sturdy cypress pine woolshed, built in 1869 by European and Chinese labourers, is a legacy of those days. Grazing, land-clearing and feral animals soon destroyed the fragile ecological balance of this remote region. The land was subdivided in 1922 then eventually the lease was relinquished and Mungo National Park was declared in 1979. Since then more land has been acquired and the park extended.
This remote district has long been part of the traditional country of the Mutthi Mutthi, Paakantyi and Ngyiampaa people. Old campﬁres and cooking hearths are extremely well preserved. The Ngyiampaa are still associated with the Willandra region and are involved in the running of the park and interpretation of its rich cultural history.
This is semiarid country with sand plains and dunes. During the last ice age freshwater lakes were strung along Willandra Creek, but there has been no water for 15 000 years or so, and today the ancient, dusty lake beds provide a time capsule of the era when Aboriginal people hunted, ﬁshed and foraged around the lakes. One of the most dominant features is the bizarre, wind-and-weather sculpted form of the Walls of China. This ‘lunette’, a 33-kilometre crescent of orange-and-white dunes, has been exposed, and with it human skeletal remains, tools, middens and the bones of ancient megafauna.
There are hardy cypress pine woodlands, mallee shrublands, grasslands and spinifex, and bluebush and saltbush survive on the dry lake beds. One of the few trees is belah, a leaﬂess species (Casuarina cristata), the wood of which was used by Aboriginal people to make weapons and implements.
This is kangaroo country – red, western grey and eastern grey kangaroos are truly at home here – but there are also short-beaked echidnas, fat-tailed dunnarts and planigales (a tiny marsupial mouse) and several species of bats. Another small mouse-like creature is the southern ningaui, which inhabits the mallee scrub. Native reptiles are also extremely well adapted to the semiarid environment and more than 40 species have been recorded. The most frequently sighted is the nuggety shingleback lizard, but eastern bearded dragons, Gould’s goanna and king brown snakes are also common. Emus are regularly seen poking around the bluebush and saltbush scrub, but you might also see apostlebirds (moving in groups, which is where they get their common name), eastern ringnecks, galahs, Major Mitchell cockatoos, blue-winged splendid fairy-wrens, chestnut-rumped thornbills, willie wagtails and crested pigeons.
Call in at Mungo Visitor Centre for information on the amazing natural and human history of the park.
Grasslands Nature Stroll (1 km, 30 minutes, easy) is a signposted walk through the open woodlands of belah and cypress pine. After rain wildﬂowers will be in bloom and there are interesting lookouts. The walk is suitable for wheelchairs. Foreshore Walk (2.5 km, 1 hour, medium difﬁculty) starts from the Mungo Woolshed then wends its way across the shallow dip that is the ancient lake bed, with its scrubby bluebush, and then climbs the sand dune on the western shore. At the holding yards and old Mungo Woolshed, a little imagination will conjure up the shearing heydays.
Scenic driving and cycling
The Zanci Pastoral Loop (10 km) extends from the Mungo Visitor Centre to the site of the old Zanci homestead. You can cycle or drive along the road over the ancient lake bed to the Walls of China (20 km, one way). Another option is the Self-guided Drive Tour (70 km), a circuit to the Walls of China then over the dunes to the mallee country and around the north-east aspect of the lake. There are shady spots along this route and Belah Camp is around the halfway point. Cyclists in particular must carry plenty of drinking water.
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