DescriptionMungo National Park
is located in the southwest corner of NSW, roughly 100km northeast of Mildura
(Vic). The park is part of the Willandra Lakes Region, a ‘World Heritage
Area’ incorporating 17 dry lakes and covering 2,400 square kilometres. The second largest of these dry lakes is Lake Mungo
- an archaeologist’s place of reverence. Lake Mungo
has revealed the 40,000 year old secrets of ‘Mungo Man’, the oldest human remains discovered in Australia
, and ‘Mungo Lady’, the oldest known human to have been ritually cremated in the world. They were buried on the shores of Lake Mungo
, beneath the 'Walls of China', a series of lunettes on the south eastern edge of the lake.
The 30km plus Walls of China are a significant feature of the Mungo Lake lunette. Slowly weathered over thousands of years; the erosion from wind and water has sculpted the sand and clay into spectacular formations. This erosion has also uncovered extensive Aboriginal artefacts, and the bones of animals commonly referred to as mega-fauna; such as Genyornis newtoni, a flightless bird with legs as solid as a racehorse, and Procoptodon goliah - a towering 3m, 230kg short-faced kangaroo. The fragile carvings in the lunette are a beautiful subject for photography, especially during sunset. Please take note that it is strictly forbidden to climb on the lunette features or disturb artefacts.
Mungo NP provides some interesting attractions like Allen’s Plain Hut and Tank, the Mungo Woolshed
, Vigars Well picnic area, and Zanci Homestead site and Woolshed. The Mungo NP Visitor Centre is open every day and there is a self-guided 70km driving tour that includes 15 stops - each with sign-posted information. Tours of the Walls of China are conducted by rangers in the school holidays. You can stay overnight at several locations, including the Shearers Quarters (bookings required), the Main Camp (vehicles and caravans), or Belah Camp (vehicle only). A boardwalk (wheelchair friendly) provides access to superb views of the Walls of China, and the short walks - Grasslands Nature Walk (1 km) and the Foreshore Walk (2.5 km) highlights a variety of interesting features within the park.
How to Use this Trek Note
In this trek note, we provide Place to Place distances (see Directions tab), a downloadable plot file, and POI files to enable you to use this as your driving itinerary, or as a base guide to add other side trips. As with all ExplorOz Trek Notes, you can reverse the order of the direction notes by clicking the arrow alongside the words Start/Finish at the very top of the information on this page.
To see the route, click on the Map tab. Then use the Moving Map Control to take a virtual tour of the route. You can also click on the "What to See & Do" & "Where to Stay" tabs to see more about each Place that the route follows. Click each listed item to open a separate page (and download) for each Place for further information to enrich your understanding of the area.
If you use the Print button at the top of the page the text from all sections will be reformatted into one easy to read document (except for detailed Place information – do these separately). If you are an ExplorOz Member, you'll also be able to download any individually selected Places
(or all in one batch download) as POI/waypoint files to use in your GPS (all popular formats available).
The crescent shaped lunette, otherwise known as the ‘Walls of China’, is one of the main highlights in Mungo National Park
. Standing around 30m high and stretching nearly 30km long, this now dry eastern shore holds secrets of preserved campfires, cooking hearths and burials of ancient Aboriginal people. There are three distinct layers of sands and soil forming the Walls of China. The oldest is the reddish Gol Gol layer, formed between 100,000 and 120,000 years ago. The middle greyish layer and the most archaeologically rich is the Mungo layer, deposited between 50,000 and 25,000 years ago. The most recent is the Zanci layer, which is pale brown, and was laid down mostly between 25,000 and 15,000 years ago.
There are three main types of native vegetation that co-exist in the Mungo National Park
- being grassy woodlands
, heathlands and semi-arid woodlands
. Within the grassy woodlands
, cypress pines thrive on loamy soils, sandy ridges and rocky out-crops. They can grow in dense communities, but these days are somewhat scattered, mainly due to extensively harvesting. These trees must be seen in their native habitat to be truly appreciated, as they play host to a variety of wildlife including pink cockatoos, which feed on the seeds of the small pinecones. The heathlands consist of lakebed shrubs such as Chenopodiaceae, commonly known as saltbush or bluebush. During Spring, these plants reveal a beautiful understorey of wildflowers. In the semi-arid woodland parts, mallee dominate the area. The name mallee comes from an Aboriginal word for eucalyptus trees that are multi-stemmed from their base. The underground woody structure (lignotuber) stores water and nutrients, allowing the plant to survive in such harsh conditions. Aborigines used to rely on these lignotubers as an important source of drinking water.
There are many species of fauna within the park such as the largest of our marsupials - the kangaroo. These herbivores spend their days grazing quietly in the grasslands or resting in a scratched out pad in the woodland shade. All three species - Red, Western grey
, and the Eastern grey
kangaroos co-exist in the park. Other animals you may be lucky to encounter are short-beaked echidnas, spiny anteaters, bats, pygmy and larger possums, bandicoots and the common and fat-tailed dunnarts. The largest reptile in the park is the harmless carpet python, which grows between 2 and 4 metres long. Mungo supports a wide variety of bird species mainly due to the diverse environment. Birds you may see include: emus, mallee ring-necks, galahs, pink cockatoos, zebra finches, crested pigeons, blue bonnets, budgerigars, and orange
and crimson chats.
The Mungo National Park
is one of the most historically rich places
. In 1981, the Willandra Lakes region was given World Heritage
listing because of its special archaeological and geomorphologic features. One lake in particular - Lake Mungo
has provided scientists with some significant discoveries - especially in the last half century. Aboriginal people lived on the shores of the lake for tens of thousands of years, and traces of their occupancy in the forms of: camp hearths, tools, clay-pan workshops, animal bones, and shell middens are giving up their secrets, as the sand dunes of its shores slowly erode away. The most significant discoveries were from the human skeletal remains of Mungo Lady and Mungo Man.
Mungo Lady (also known as Mungo I) was discovered in 1969 by Professor Jim Bowler with the University of Melbourne
. Scientific dating methods as well as burn marks on her remains suggest her age to be up to 40,000 years old - being the world’s first recorded cremation. The pattern of burn marks imply an unusual ritual, whereby after she died, the corpse was burned, smashed, and then burned a second time. Theorists suggest maybe her descendants had tried to ensure she did not return to haunt them.
Mungo was discovered by geologist Dr. Jim Bowler on February 26, 1974 when shifting sand dunes exposed his remains. The body was sprinkled with red ochre, in what is the earliest incidence of such a sophisticated and artistic burial practice. Mungo Man was quite old when he died based on evidence of osteoarthritis and severe wear on the teeth, and new studies have revealed he had an estimated height of 196cm (6 ft 5 in). The age of 40,000 years is currently the most widely accepted archaeological age for the Mungo Man, which makes him the second oldest anatomically modern human remains found outside of Africa to date.
Mungo National Park
does not have closing times, but be aware that all roads in and around the park are closed after rain. Please take adequate supplies of fuel, food and water. No food, petrol or diesel is available at or near the park, and water is a rare commodity in a semi-arid environment - so always carry plenty with you. All roads in and around the park are unsealed. Many of them have little traffic, particularly outside holiday seasons. Always carry extra food and water in case of an emergency. If you become stranded - stay with your vehicle.
Consider taking communications equipment such as HF or UHF radios. Mobile phones do not work in Mungo National Park
, so in emergencies, a ranger can be contacted on UHF channel 22. Mungo lies in the fruit fly exclusion zone so you can only bring in food bought in from Broken Hill
, Narrandera, Shepparton, Swan Hill
, Waikerie, Renmark or other places
within those boundaries.
If you are driving into Mungo National Park
, then you will need to purchase a Vehicle Day Pass
Payment is by self registration. Envelopes & information from the front of the Mungo NP Visitor Centre.
Camping fees in Mungo NP also apply. Belah campsite has 12 sites. This campground is a great overnight spot
for people taking their time doing the Mungo Drive Tour, or for those looking for a secluded campsite. No fires are allowed.
For more information on fees, please click: Camping in Mungo NP
For more information in general, you can contact the park office in Buronga.
BurongaStreet address: Corner of Sturt Highway and Melaleuca Street, Buronga NSW
Postal address: PO Box 318, Buronga NSW 2739
Phone: (03) 5021 8900
Fax: (03) 5022 2037
Fuel Supplies & Usage
Unfortunately, there is no longer any fuel available at Pooncarie
Best Time To VisitOutback New South Wales
experiences very hot and dry summers. Travel is safer and more enjoyable between March and October. Please note - unsealed roads may be closed after rain.
Closest Climatic Station
Pooncarie Mail Agency
Distance from Trek Mid Point 56.65km NW
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Best time to travel Ok time to travel Travel NOT recommended