Mungo National Park
Mungo is the focal point of the Willandra Lakes World Heritage area and is the traditional country of the Paakantyi, Mutthi Mutthi and Ngiyampaa. Aboriginal people with traditional links to the World Heritage Area are actively involved in park management.
The park is famous because the dry lakeshore contains evidence of indigenous campfires, middens and burials, dating back to nearly 50,000 years ago when the lakes were often filled with fresh water.
The shoreline is also a detailed record of Australia's past climate, lake levels and the animals that used the lake. Up until 25,000 years ago this semi-arid country was a series of vast lakes supporting giant kangaroos, wombats and other mega fauna as well as Tasmanian Tigers and Devils. A treasure trove of fossils is a legacy of this extraordinary heritage.
Mungo was added to the World Heritage list in 1981 in recognition of its Aboriginal heritage and the evidence of past climates preserved in its landscapes. These dry lakebeds preserve the longest continual record of Aboriginal life in Australia.
The earliest inhabitants
Remains of the earliest known humans to inhabit the Australian continent have been found in Mungo, dating back nearly 40,000 years. The abundance of the lake made Mungo an ideal location for Aboriginal settlement. Tribes camped and fished along the shores, hunted for food and quarried stone from rocky outcrops on the lake floor.
The park's red, sandy country is home to a diverse array of animals, birds and plant life, including wedge-tailed eagles and red kangaroos that bound across the barren ground. All are there to be seen when you explore the carefully plotted pathways within the park.
The Walls of China
After the lake dried up, 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 layers of the lunette. As the lunette erodes it reveals remains and fossils. The ancient dunes at Mungo are known as the "Walls of China". As the sands shift, ancient and extremely well preserved campfires, cooking hearths and burials as well as the remains of long extinct animals have been uncovered. The fragile formations of sand and clay have been shaped by wind and water and are spectacular when viewed in their entirety from a distance.
In the 1850s squatters moved into the area and established Gol Gol station. Explore the Mungo Woolshed, a beautiful structure built around 1869 from local cypress pine that features in the region's pastoral history.
The vegetation of Mungo National Park is typical of the plains of western NSW. Belah (Casuarina) is the dominant species on the sand plains while black bluebush dominates on the slightly saline soils of the lakebed.
Many native animals can be found here including red and western grey kangaroos, echidnas, dunnarts and bats. Resident lizards include shinglebacks, bearded dragons and geckos. Look out for emus, pink cockatoos, orange and white-fronted chats and wedge-tailed eagles.
Walks - explore on foot
A wheelchair-accessible boardwalk gives all visitors access to view the Walls of China. The Grassland Nature Trail offers a pleasant 1-kilometre walk from the main camping area. There is also a 2.5-kilometre Foreshore Walk that starts near the Visitor Centre.
There is a self-guided 70-kilometre tour along a signposted track that takes you on a roundtrip across the dry lake floor to the Walls of China, over the dune to the Mallee country and then around the north-eastern shore of the lake.
The Zanci Pastoral Loop is a 10-kilometre drive tour starting and ending at the Visitor Centre. The tour's focus is on the extraordinary pastoral history of this semi-arid environment.
Join a day tour led by an Aboriginal guide or a ranger-guided Discovery Tour during school holidays.
- Bunk accommodation is available at the Shearers' Quarters adjacent to the Visitor Centre. BYO bedding and linen. Bookings required ph: 03 5021 8900.
- Mungo Lodge, which is privately owned, is adjacent to the park.
Camping and facilities
There are two car-based camping areas (with room for caravans) - the Main Camp and Belah Camp. Both have basic camping facilities including water, toilets, tables and fireplaces. No wood fires are allowed at Belah Camp. Booking is not required for camping. Nearest supplies are available from Mildura, Wentworth and Broken Hill.
Mungo National Park is 110 kilometres north-east of Mildura via Buronga along the unsealed Arumpo Road or from Wentworth, travel 88 kilometres along the sealed Pooncarie Road and then 58 kilometres unsealed.
All unsealed roads are impassable after rain. There is a small vehicle entry fee. For further information on road conditions contact the local visitor information centre.
Find out more at the Visitor Centre
The centre is open every day. Call in to learn about the park's natural and cultural heritage as well as the history of European settlement. On display are examples of the preserved ancient animal remains found at Mungo as well as weapons and other implements of the Aboriginal people who lived here.