Mildura is an ideal base for a trip to the stunning Mungo National Park, writes Kathryn Scobie
Mungo National Park is situated just 110km from the outback centre of Mildura, where you can experience an abundance of blue skies, rich earth and welcoming locals.
Before you embark on your discovery of the fascinating Aboriginal heritage and stark beauty awaiting you at Mungo National Park be sure to enjoy everything this thriving town has to offer. Savour the tastes of local wines and fresh produce, enjoy the Mediterranean climate and explore some of the fascinating local history of Mildura.
Located on the banks of Australia’s most important waterway, the Murray River, it provides visitors with a fantastic launching pad to some of New South Wales’ most irresistible nature-based activities.
Mungo National Park is perhaps the most important of these, located within the heart of NSW’s Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area. Comprising of a chain of ancient dried-up lakebeds and sand dunes, the park is famous for its Aboriginal artefacts and burial sites, including the famous Mungo Man and Mungo Lady, estimated to be between 25 000 and 60 000 years old. The ongoing erosion of the lakebeds continues to uncover new finds, including a recent discovery of 40,000-year-old footprints of children playing.
Take yourself back in time as you explore an accurate re-creation of a section of these footprints, made using 3D laser scans and digital modelling technology, at the Mungo Meeting Place, near the Mungo National Park Visitor Centre.
In addition to the history associated with the park, the scenery and wildlife are outstanding. You cannot visit Mungo without seeing the Walls of China , a series of dramatic 30-metre high walls of quartz and clay, formed and reformed over thousands of years through the erosion of wind and rain.
They are best viewed in the early morning and evening when the shadows cast by the crescent-shaped dunes highlight the eerie beauty of this landscape. A full moon also provides captivating conditions for viewing these spectacular geological formations. A 3-day, 2-night Full Moon Tour led by local Aboriginal guides is now available through Harry Nanya Tours.
Given the geological sensitivity of the area, visits to the Walls of China are restricted to those on an accredited tour. The Aboriginal Discovery Rangers also conduct tours to the Walls of China throughout the year, as do Discover Mildura and a number of other tour operators.
The recently renovated Mungo National Park Visitor Centre offers an excellent range of information for self-guided walking, cycling and driving tours throughout the park, as well as changing exhibits and audio visual displays. Also worth a visit is the nearby Mungo Woolshed, restored as an example of the area’s pastoral history, and the Mungo Meeting Place, home to the recreation of fossilised footprints discovered in the area.
An overnight stay is a great way to appreciate all that Mungo National Park has to offer. On a clear night, the stars spread across the outback skies in a breathtaking display and the absolute quiet is a soothing balm to those escaping the constant hum of the city.
You can stay in the park at the Mungo Shearer’s Quarters (bookings essential) or set up your tent or caravan at one of the park’s campgrounds.
Visit www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/outbacknsw for accommodation, deals and itineraries to Outback NSW.
For more information on Mildura, visit visitmildura.com.au