Mutawintji National Park
Tranquil valleys and rugged gorges cut through the craggy, burnt-red Byngnano Range, the dominant landform in Mutawintji National Park in the state’s outback. On the fringe of the Central Arid Zone, this is a landscape of red dirt and woodlands, where mineral-laced rocky outcrops catch the brilliant light and creeks and waterholes contain precious water. Some of the ﬁnest Aboriginal rock-art galleries in the country are found here.
From Broken Hill via Silver City Hwy then gravel roads; check conditions beforehand as roads can be closed in the wet; RTA (08) 8087 0660
April to October
1290 km west of Sydney, via Broken Hill; 130 km north-east of Broken Hill
- NSWNPWS 1300 361 967
- NPWS Broken Hill (08) 8080 3200
Permits required in advance for overnight walks and off-track walks; contact NPWS Broken Hill
68 912 ha
Broken Hill (08) 8080 3560
Featured Activities in the National Park
See ancient rock-art galleries on an Aboriginal-led cultural tour
Explore the nooks and crannies of the colourful gorges
Walk the Western Ridge Trail for a spectacular sunset over the Byngnano Range
Take a leisurely drive along the Old Coach Road
- Back to nature, Mutawintji National Park, Back to nature
- Mutawintji National Park, Recreational Indigenous, Recreational Indigenous
- Mutawintji National Park, Recreational Wildlife-watching, Recreational Wildlife-watching
Mutawintji occupies part of the tribal lands of the Malyankapa and Pandjikali people. The landscape of the Byngnano Range, with its protected gorges, creeks and rock pools, was traditionally a source of shelter, food and water and a home to Aboriginal people for hundreds of generations. Aboriginal rock-art galleries are a physical reminder of the long occupation of these lands by Indigenous people, but the landforms themselves are also of spiritual signiﬁcance, tracing the tracks of ancestor spirits. The park was returned to its traditional owners in 1998 and is administered in association with them. Access to Aboriginal sites within the historic area is by tour only; some other sites can be seen within the main park.
Cutting through the park, the Byngnano Range is rich red in colour, its fragmenting sandstone sculpted by gorges and river valleys, with spidery creek beds and cool, hidden rock pools. Elsewhere are low tablelands, the gentle rippling stony downs around Mount Wright Creek, and arid plains of saltbush and mulga extending to the horizon.
Much of the soil is infertile and vegetation fairly sparse, consisting largely of woodlands. Majestic river red gums sprawl along the creek lines, mulga trees stud the dry and rocky ranges and there are scruffy cypress pines. After heavy rains delicate wildﬂowers will suddenly appear.
Red kangaroos and emus are well adapted to the climate and can be seen grazing in the tough outback territory. Unfortunately feral goats can also survive here and, with other feral animals, are a serious problem. If you are lucky you might glimpse a rare yellow-footed rock-wallaby, easily identiﬁable by its long striped tail. These endangered creatures shelter in the rocky ranges. Wedge-tailed eagles can be seen wheeling overhead, or feeding on roadkill. Near waterholes, especially early in the morning and at dusk, you will hear the incessant chatter of corellas, tiny zebra ﬁnches or bright budgerigars. Flocks or pairs of inland, yellow-rumped and chestnut-rumped thornbills forage on the ground and ﬂit amid the saltbush and woodlands, often in the company of southern whiteface.
Aboriginal rock art
At the heart of the park lies the Mutawintji Historic Site where paintings, stencils and engravings offer an insight into Indigenous culture over tens of thousands of years. The site can be viewed on guided tours only, which leave the Homestead Creek camping area on Wednesday and Saturday at 11am, from April to November. Bookings are essential and fees apply. There is a cultural centre within the Historic Site. Contact Mutawintji Eco Tours (08) 8088 2389. It is also possible to see rock art elsewhere in the park on various walks.
Thaaklatjika Mingkana Walk (400 metres one way, 1 hour return, easy), from the camping ground, leads into gorges and Thaaklatjika (Wrights Cave), where paintings and stencils adorn the rocky overhang (the walk is accessible to wheelchairs). Rockholes Loop (5.6-km loop, 3 hours, difﬁcult), leaving from the Homestead Creek Trail, is a challenging walk involving some rock-hopping, past Aboriginal art, and sweeping outback views. Western Ridge Walk (6-km loop, 5 hours return, difﬁcult) is also fairly strenuous, involving some steep sections, but it is worth it, especially at sunset for the dazzling sight as the light catches the Byngnano Range. Take a torch for the walk back. Homestead Gorge Trail (8 km, 3 hours return, easy) is an enjoyable walk along Homestead Creek and into the imposing Homestead Gorge, passing Aboriginal engravings along the way.
Although only 10 kilometres long, the Old Coach Road Drive is an interesting excursion, following part of the original Broken Hill to White Cliffs coach run. You can stop en route to see intriguing rock formations such as Little Half Dome Rock.