Little Desert National Park
The soil is poor, there is little water and low rainfall, yet Little Desert National Park supports a surprising wealth and diversity of plant and animal life, and in the warmer months an abundance of magniﬁcent wildﬂowers. It is not really a desert at all but a semiarid landscape with a variety of habitats.
From Melbourne via Western Hwy to Dimboola; Horseshoe Bend and Ackle Bend camping grounds are about 8 km south of Dimboola; Kiata campground is about 10 km south of Kiata (on Western Hwy)
Late winter to early summer
375 km north-west of Melbourne; 8 km south-east of Dimboola; 16 km south of Nhill; 25 km south of Kaniva
PV 13 1963
132 000 ha
Dimboola/Nhill (03) 5391 3086
Horsham (03) 5382 3778, 1800 633 218
Featured Activities in the National Park
Watch for the mound-building malleefowl
Visit in spring to see wildﬂowers and delicate native orchids
Follow Sanctuary Walk for an introduction to the diversity of park species
Tackle one of the 4WD treks into the park’s more remote sections
- Little Desert National Park, Eco-friendly activity
A look at the past
The original section of the park was set aside in 1955 to protect the elusive mound-building malleefowl, but the park has been extended over the years.
The people of the Wotjobaluk tribe were the traditional inhabitants of this region, surviving on the foods of the Wimmera River and the woodland and mallee plains, and scattered remains such as spear points have been found along the river.
This is part of the so-called Mallee country, named for the low, shrubby, multi-stemmed eucalypt that traditionally sprawled across the ﬂat plains. It was largely cleared by graziers and wheat growers whose vast properties stretch across this region.
Around one-ﬁfth of Victoria’s native ﬂora can be found in the park, including the stunted mallee. Heathlands support banksia, tea-tree and casuarina and in winter the heaths are ablaze with ﬂowers. There are stands of stringybark, woodlands of yellow and red gum, slender cypress pines and on swampy clay ﬂats are melaleuca and bull-oak (Allocasuarina sp.). In August, when the warmer weather starts and if the winter rain has been good, colourful ﬂowering shrubs, everlastings and delicate native orchids begin to bloom profusely.
The climate suits reptiles, and shingleback lizards and eastern bearded dragons can often be seen sunning themselves, but there are also kangaroos and at night sugar gliders, possums and bats come out to forage for food.
The park is renowned for its birdlife, with more than 220 species recorded. Superb fairy-wrens, many varieties of honeyeaters, red-rumped parrots, diamond ﬁretails and emus are common, while avid bird-spotters might well see malleefowl in the scrub, blue-winged parrots in the heathland or the hooded robin ﬂitting through the woodland. Also here is the southern scrub-robin, another ground-dwelling species, which nests in the ground litter. After rains, waterbirds and migratory species suddenly appear.
The park can be explored on foot along one of the many tracks or nature trails, or by 4WD. This is top birdwatching country, wildﬂowers are wonderful in spring (especially after good rains) and keen photographers will ﬁnd plenty to capture. Check with Parks Victoria about local operators who run organised tours.
Both novice and experienced bushwalkers will ﬁnd tracks to suit their abilities. The Stringybark Walk (30–60 minutes), on the Harrow–Nhill Road, and Sanctuary Nature Walk (30 minutes) starting from the picnic area south of Kiata, are both good introductions to the park’s diversity. For those wanting to venture further aﬁeld, Desert Discovery Walk (84 km, about 4 days) is a ﬁne way to experience the park (the walk can be tackled in one-day sections). There are two overnight campsites en route. A detailed route map is available and walkers must register with the park ofﬁce before leaving. On all walks, take particular care and carry plenty of water, especially during hot weather, as conditions can be dangerous.
Around 600 kilometres of tracks traverse the park, some of them dating back to the 1850s. Many are sandy, or become boggy when wet (seasonal closures from mid-June to end-October are to prevent damage during wet conditions). In the eastern section of the park you can follow the Salt Lake Track from the Kiata campsite, which is rimmed with colourful wildﬂowers in early spring. The more adventurous can explore the western section near the border with South Australia.
Little Desert Nature Lodge, adjacent to the park, runs 4WD tours specialising in natural history, wildﬂowers and birdwatching. The Lodge also leads night walks to see nocturnal animals such as sugar gliders, rare and endangered brush-tailed bettongs, and bush stone-curlews. Another service offered is drop-offs and pick-ups for those wanting to tackle all or part of the Desert Discovery Walk.
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