60 or so kms south of Mildura on the Calder Freeway is the 'town' of Hattah. It is nothing more than a service station/shop (but thankfully not a corporate BP petril station). This wooden shack has been here quite some time and doesn;t look as if its going away in a hurry. Its also at the turn off from the calder to the Hattah Kulkyne National Park. Its a vital place to stock up with water.
The humour of the owners of the services are to be foound all over the site - none more so than the beloved 'mileage' posts that are to be found all over Australia, proving just how far you all are from here :)
Surrounded for miles in all directions by the mallee scrub, lake hattah forms the central part of the National Park. Walking tracks, viewing towers, BBQ sites, camping are all provided. But there's one drawback - there's no water! The lake only fills when there is a sizeable flood of the Murray. There hasn;t been one for years. Result is a dried up lake bed supporting its own semi permanent ecosystem (surviving on water below the surface)
Mungo National Park
There is no place more magical, mysterious and beautiful then World Heritage listed Mungo. Remains of the earliest known humans to inhabit the Australian continent have been found here. These have recently been redated at more then 60,000 years old - a finding that will have a revolutionary impact on our concept of ancient Aboriginal history.
Then 15,000 years ago, the lake dried up. Over centuries winds swept storms of sand up from the lake floor, dumping it on the shoreline and creating the famous Mungo lunette. This is the site of the spectacular 'Great Walls of China' which have been carved from successive layers of the lunette by many years of erosion. As the lunette erodes it yields up it's stores of remains - a vast sandy museum peeling away layers of our past.
The Mungo lunette is eerie in its stark ancient beauty. The spirits of the long departed whisper amongst its sands, its strange stone outcrops are like sentinels to a mystic dreamtime past. To witness a blazing purple sunset from the lunette is to grasp our culture's infancy within the scheme of time's design. For the winds of dry Lake Mungo will blow for a long time yet.
However there is much more to the park then the lunette and the 'China Walls'. It's red sandy country is home to a diverse array of animals, birds and plantlife. In the sky swoops a graceful Wedge-tailed Eagle, across the barren ground bounds a Red Kangaroo. All are there to be seen when you explore the carefully plotted pathways within the park.
There is a camping ground within the Park and quality accommodation at the Mungo Lodge. A range of guided tours may also be taken to discover more about the history of this unique landscape.
Mungo National Park is 100 km north east of Mildura, but seems less off the beaten path these days than the last time we visited (several years ago) where the gravel road into the park was in much worse condition and the maximum speed a car or mini 4x4 could expect to go was about 50 km hr....this time, we had no trouble travelling most of the way at 100, so were there in no time.
This place is SO worth a visit... I'll explain more later when I've time.
For now I'll leave you some photos of the lunettes (formations of sand and silt and mud) at the most popular feature of the park, the Great Walls of China.
New South Wales is not exactly off the beaten path from Mildura, though you do have to cross this large bridge to get to it, and when you get there, it does look like you're off the beaten path because everything looks much dryer, the further you get away from the life of the area, the Murray River.
In just a few kms into NSW, you look like you're in the outback.
Not to be missed! Sunset at Mungo was one of my best memories of the park, with the changing light and shadows over the lunettes.
Most of the several lizards we saw on the 100 km trip into Mungo National Park were just by the side of the gravel roadway.