Mungo National Park

StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesMungo National Park Visitor Centre
FinishMain Camp (Mungo NP)
DifficultyDifficulty 1.5/5
Suitable for4WD AWD 
Distance63.69 km
Minimum Days1
Average Speed55.41 km/hr
Driving Time1 hr 8 mins
Article By: ExplorOz Team
Page Updated: 27 May 2015

Description

Mungo 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.

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Environment

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.

Flora

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.

Fauna

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.

History

The Mungo National Park is one of the most historically rich places in Australia. 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

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 Man

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.

Preparation

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, Menindee, Hillston, Griffith, Narrandera, Shepparton, Swan Hill, Mildura, Waikerie, Renmark or other places within those boundaries.

Permits

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.

Buronga

Street 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
Email: buronga.office@environment.nsw.gov.au

Fuel Supplies & Usage

Fuel Symbol Unfortunately, there is no longer any fuel available at Pooncarie.
DieselULPLPG
4cyl 9 litres4cyl 10 litres4cyl 13 litres
6cyl 10 litres6cyl 12 litres6cyl 11 litres
8cyl 10 litres8cyl 11 litres
Usage is averaged from recorded data (* specific to this trek) and calculated based on trek distance.

Best Time To Visit

Outback 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
 JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Mean Max. °C35.834.430.526.320.917.317.019.523.426.931.033.2
Mean Min. °C18.818.214.811.17.15.24.45.47.710.614.416.2
Mean Rain mm23.123.218.317.525.926.022.522.621.526.320.921.4
    Best time to travel      Ok time to travel      Travel NOT recommended

Services & Supplies

Map

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What to See

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This list may not be complete for the entire region. Places listed here are directly located along the plot file associated with this Trek Note. You can locate other nearby Places by browsing the map or searching Places.

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Where to Stay

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This list may not be complete for the entire region. Places listed here are directly located along the plot file associated with this Trek Note. You can locate other nearby Places by browsing the map or searching Places.

Showing 4 Places

Directions

LocationsDistanceDirection Time
Mungo National Park Visitor Centre to Mungo Woolshed0.26 kmSE114°
Mungo Woolshed to Lake Mungo2.52 kmE111° N/A
Lake Mungo to The Walls Of China Mungo NP7.1 kmE99° N/A
The Walls Of China Mungo NP to Red Top Tank Mungo NP5.42 kmS201° 3 min
Red Top Tank Mungo NP to Red Top Lookout Mungo NP0.82 kmSE127°
Red Top Lookout Mungo NP to Nice Campsite (Mungo NP)7.89 kmNE47° 7 min
Nice Campsite (Mungo NP) to Belah Campground Mungo NP4.29 kmN4 min
Belah Campground Mungo NP to Round Tank Mungo NP1.99 kmN19° 13 min
Round Tank Mungo NP to Vigars Wells Mungo NP9.07 kmW275° 11 min
Vigars Wells Mungo NP to Zanci Homestead Mungo NP18.7 kmW262° 24 min
Zanci Homestead Mungo NP to Mungo Woolshed3.31 kmS184° 4 min
Mungo Woolshed to Mungo National Park Visitor Centre0.26 kmNW294°
Mungo National Park Visitor Centre to Garnpung Rd & Mungo Station Access Tk0.98 kmSW246° 1 min
Garnpung Rd & Mungo Station Access Tk to Main Camp (Mungo NP)1.09 kmS190° 1 min
Mungo National Park Visitor Centre to Main Camp (Mungo NP)63.69 km  1 hr 8 min
Distance is GPS recorded driving distance (not straight line), Direction is straight line from start to end, Time is calculated from actual GPS driving data.

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Travel Journals

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