Mungo National Park is a lunar-like landscape made up of dried-up lake beds and sand dunes that is unlike many other places on Earth. This national park in New South Wales(NSW) is rich in Aboriginal history.
It was here that the bones and remains of Mungo Lady and Mungo Man, who are thought to be about 40,000 years old, were found. With a First Nations guide, explore this UNESCO World Heritage site and gain insight into Australia’s past.
While you explore one of the world’s most important archaeological sites, learn about the rich First Nations heritage.
Australia selected the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu National Park, and Mungo National Park as its first three World Heritage Sites. The fact that Mungo National Park was listed among these other two Australian landmarks says everything you need to know about how significant it is.
The Willandra Lakes Region, which includes more than just the national park, is the official name of the World Heritage Site. But when it comes to visiting the location, Mungo National Park is the key attraction, and that’s what will be focused on here.
Lake Mungo is the focal point of the location. But do not anticipate finding water here. Lake Mungo dried up along with the other lakes in the area during the end of the last ice age.
As a visitor to Mungo National Park, it’s crucial to understand two effects of this extremely gradual process of drying out as the climate changes. The layers of sand and sediment protected a number of significant items. And it produced beautiful landscapes.
You might simply come here for the landscape, as you might many other national parks. There are some quite unique views here, from the thick gum woods set in the deep red earth to the sand walls carved by erosion.
However, discovering the history of Mungo National Park will give you a completely fresh perspective on the location. Because it was in this location that scientists independently found the ancient human remains known as Mungo Man and Mungo Lady.
1. How Are You Getting to Mungo National Park
Mildura, which is about a two-to-three-hour drive away, is the nearest significant city to Mungo National Park. You will invariably come across unsealed roads, which are typically in good shape no matter which direction you travel. Always keep an eye on the weather and pack enough food and drink for the trip.
It takes about two hours drive to get there from Balranald if you’re coming from the southeast (say, on a road trip along the Sturt Highway).
It takes around an hour to get to Pooncarie if you’re traveling from the northwest (let’s say on a road trip from Broken Hill).
In excellent weather, you can drive on the unsealed but high-quality roads into Mungo National Park without a 4WD. However, driving a compact front-wheel drive will be difficult. Campervan access is possible but uncomfortable due to the uneven roads, so keep that in mind.
2. Mungo Visitor Centre
To find out more about Mungo Man and Mungo Lady, visit the Meeting Place at the Mungo Visitor Center. The lunette-shaped vista here symbolizes and remembers their old resting place as well as those of countless Aboriginal ancestors, even if the remains are kept private for cultural reasons.
You’ll also see replicas of fossilized human footprints that were discovered in a clay pit and date back to about 20,000 years ago. This is the greatest known collection of these ancient footprints anywhere in the world.
3. Mungo Woolshed
Mungo Woolshed, built-in 1869 employing a clever drop-log cypress pine building technique, dates back to the time when Gol Gol pastoral station introduced thousands of sheep to the region. The farming activities reveal the mysteries of the ancient lake bottom in this stunning but sensitive landscape.
4. Zanci Pastoralist Loop
This 10-kilometer trail, which may be cycled or used as a half-day walk, offers a window into the Mungo region and its pastoral history. Starting at the Mungo Visitor Center, you’ll travel over dunes under an expansive sky while keeping an eye out for birds and other wildlife.
You’ll also stop at the ancient Zanci Homestead site, which has a collection of ruins and buildings, including an old brick chimney.
The Zanci Homestead also contains a woolshed and other buildings from a time when the residents had to be self-sufficient for extended periods of time. There are many fascinating elements in the information signs.
4. Mungo Foreshore Walk
You can take the Foreshore Walk track, which is the beginning of the Zanci Pastoralist Loop, for a shorter stroll. It starts at the visitor centre and is only 2.5 kilometres long.
This stroll offers you an idea of the variety of scenery in the park as it follows the historic Lake Mungo shoreline. It will ascend beyond a little red dune and into the forested sand country.
Even if the route isn’t very long, it’s still advisable to avoid walking it in the middle of the day when it’s hot. However, it’s a pleasant way to start the day.
5. Lake Mungo
One of the 17 dried lake beds in the Willandra Lakes Region, which is recognized as a World Heritage Site, is Lake Mungo. It once contained a significant amount of water that has long since been fossilized.
As a result, eroding sand dunes are now revealing evidence of an area that was once teeming with prehistoric life. It was here that the groundbreaking Mungo Man and Mungo Lady discoveries were made in the layers of sediment.
6. The Walls of China in Mungo National Park
The Walls of China, which curve around the lake’s eastern border, are Mungo’s main draw. This hypnotic outback landscape has been shaped over millennia by sand-soaked winds.
It is composed of a low curve of sandy hills, or lunette, whose wrinkled clay pinnacles come up out of the earth like odd bonsai mountains. Explore more with an NPWS Aboriginal ranger, or stroll the boardwalk.
You may access the lunette’s beginning through a promenade that offers stunning vistas and educational displays. However, you are unable to continue on your own. However, during a guided tour, you are permitted to stroll on the sand.
An Indigenous ranger will lead tours each day (at various times) from the visitor centre and be able to fill you in on the heritage of the location.
7. The Mungo Track
Take a ride on the 70-kilometre Mungo Loop Track by car or, even better, by bicycle to get a feel for this breathtaking desert landscape. This path connecting Mungo’s attractions passes across the spectacular dunes and mallee country of outback NSW before crossing the ancient lake bed to the Walls of China and returning along its shores. Any of the lookouts along the road is a good place to pause for a picnic lunch.
There are even locations throughout the route where you may stop and take short hikes to enjoy things like lunette views, hut ruins, gum forests, and birdwatching.
According to the NPWS website, you can do it in two days or over the course of a full day because there is a campsite around halfway through.
8. Red Top Lookout
Visit Red Top Lookout just before sunset for unmatched views of the magnificent Mungo environment, which is transformed into a tapestry of deep ravines, patterns, and textures in all shades and colours as the light fades and the sky, with its enormous moon rising, takes on a nearly hallucinogenic appearance.
9. Tours in Mungo National Park
The Mungo Visitor Centre may set up guided tours of the Walls of China with Indigenous rangers from NSW National Parks and Wildlife (July through October). A number of tours, including those offered by Outback Geo Adventures in Balranald, also cover the larger park.
10. Mungo National Park Accommodation
There are two choices for hotel-style accommodation.
As the name implies, the first is the Mungo Shearer’s Quarters, which are former shearers’ quarters that have been renovated and turned into rooms. Although they are quite simple, they are close to the visitor centre and provide cooking and communal restroom facilities.
Mungo Lodge, which is the second choice, is much more upscale. There are several cottages, each with a bathroom, cozy mattresses, and air conditioning.
The Mungo Visitor Centre is about a 15-minute drive from Mungo Lodge. The lodge, which is located on a big 77-hectare property, has spacious accommodations, a restaurant, and a nice bar area.
11. Mungo National Park Camping
There are a few possibilities if you like to camp or travel in a campervan or caravan.
The main campsite is the closest to the visitor centre and is located there. There are 33 locations, so reservations are strongly advised. There are grills and a building with amenities (flush toilets and hot showers are at the visitor centre).
The Belah campground, which is located about halfway down the Mungo Track, is the alternate choice. You must be ready and carry everything with you because there are only 12 sites and the facilities are poor. However, you’ll actually think you’re camping in the Australian Outback!
The greatest collection of fossilized human footprints, enormous marsupials, and evidence of human settlement stretching back 60,000 years have all been discovered in Mungo National Park, one of the most significant national parks in the world.
With exotic walks and lookouts, you are in a once-on-a-lifetime adventure in the land of Outback NSW. Books your tickets and don’t miss out on the chance of an Australian adventure Mungo National Park presents you!