Mungo National Park Pt. 4
For me, this was the highlight of the trip.. remote, isolated, heritage-listed and with a landscape unlike anything I had seen before. Mungo National Park.
We left Broken Hill around 7.30 am and headed towards Menindee to get there. Unfortunately, mobile reception became almost nonexistent at 7.32 am (Telstra only, and then even that eventually gave up). Good bitumen roads to start us on the way though we knew that wouldn’t last long. Menindee lakes had been empty for a couple of years but now had water in them again, something we wanted to see. While not the best time of day to see them (sunrise and sunset are superb), the lakes were pretty and worth the stop.
if you ever get a chance to go to the Menindee Lakes – go for a sunrise or sunset. It’s just beautiful. The birds are active. It has a much different feel at sunset, serene. Tranquil.
From Menindee, we headed out of town towards Wentworth, our destination Pooncarie. The only town between Menindee and the Mungo turnoff. About 10kms out, we hit the dirt roads apart from bitumen on the cattle grids; we had dirt roads for about the next 40kms. There was no petrol at Mungo, so we refuelled the cars and headed to Pooncarie’s Telegraph Hotel for lunch. Not the best choice, though. It was the only game in town. Onions on burgers were cold; the burger pattie was burnt outside and raw on the inside. The lady behind the bar just shrugged her shoulders when we complained. Luckily none of us came down with food poisoning. Leaving Pooncarie behind, we headed off again toward Mungo. We stopped for a photo-op at the car on the pole.
We continued until we hit Top Hut Road. From here, it was around 60kms of dirt road to Mungo Lodge just outside the park. All roads leading into Mungo are dirt roads. And they get closed in bad weather. Did I mention it was isolated?
Mungo National Park
Booking in, we met the lovely John who had been chatting back and forth with me in the preceding weeks organising everything for us. The accommodation was all cabins set in a circle around a central park area. Rooms were fantastic, king beds, lovely clean ensuites, back porches on each cabin. Touch of luxury in the middle of nowhere! Around 5 pm, we met our guides at reception, and we followed them off into the national park itself. The first stop was the Walls of China lookout.
Walls of China
After a brief stop there, we were back in the cars and heading down onto the walls of china. Access to the great walls is strictly by guide only to ensure the area is protected. The guides carried our packed dinner for us (provided by Mungo Lodge) as we planned to shoot then eat dinner at sunset.
Aboriginal artifacts and remains dating back 50,000 years had been found here. Making it one of the oldest places occupied by humans since ancient times.. the remains of a 40,000-year-old female found in the dunes of Lake Mungo are believed to be the oldest ritual cremation site in the world. Back then, it was a lush lake area, part of the Willandra Lakes region, teeming with life as the lake tried up. The tribes moved on.
As it got darker, we started shooting the stars. And I ticked off a second bucket list .an orb at Mungo.
by the time we headed back to the cars, it was pitch black. Bobbing torches in convoy followed the guides back to the vehicles, then the hair-raising drive back to the lodge. In the dark following clouds of dust from the car in front reduced visibility to about 3 feet. If any roo had jumped out, he would have been on our laps. We’d have no chance of seeing him in time to stop. I had planned to do some more light painting back at the lodge, but after all the walking and driving, everyone just headed for their rooms and crashed out.