Mungo and Kinchega – April 2010

There’s been lots of rain (and flooding) in Queensland over the last months, sending floodwaters down the Darling (and elsewhere) and filling some of the Menindee Lakes for the first time in ten years. Plus there’s been quite a lot of rain in western NSW itself, so we thought we’d go and have a look at the “outback” looking verdant and lush, with some water lying around for a change. It’s a long drive and we were very glad to get as far as Hay without hitting a kangaroo ! (See Western Australia, 2008, part 1.)

Our first stop was Mungo National Park, part of the Willandra Lakes World Heritage area. There is evidence of indigenous people having lived here at least 50,000 years ago when the area was lush and the lakes were full. The last time they were full was 15,000 years ago, before the Lachlan River changed its course. It’s all pretty flat, with wide dry lake beds and ancient eroding sand dunes separating them, but there was a lot of interest in the plants that survive and flourish in this harsh landscape. As there’d been some decent rain here, it really didn’t look like desert at all. Every time it rains, the dunes erode a little more and some more evidence of past inhabitants is uncovered. We saw the old wooden station buildings that were erected in the late 1800s when sheep were farmed here. The woolshed is huge and all built from local native cypress  (callitris) timber. One of the highlights of our visit was the sunset colours on the “Walls of China”. And the campground was great – roomy individual sites and beautiful nights with no moon and a  spectacular array of stars.

We drove on to Menindee via Pooncarie, and stocked up before going into Kinchega National Park which borders on the Darling River and encompasses some of the Menindee lakes. Our campsite was on Lake Cawndilla, which was just starting to fill, the waters being diverted through a series of weirs from the Darling River through the lake system. Lake Cawndilla is still filling as I write this (on 7th May) -you can see the storage levels rise on the web at We are intrigued to know what will happen downstream of the lakes once they are all full. There’s no doubt that everyone is heartened to see the waters flowing again; there were lots of people just watching the waters flow through the weirs – obviously a welcome sight!

At Kinchega we also visited the old homestead (now a ruin) and the shearing shed, only half the size of the original but still huge. It is said that six million sheep were shorn there between the 1870s when it was built, and 1967, when the area became a national park. Hard to believe that the river was the main transport route for many years – though we did read that the river boats were often stranded for months when the waters dropped .

After a couple of nights camping under the stars (it was pleasantly warm, even at night!) we headed down to Wentworth, then up the Murray River as far as Albury. We’d never been to the Hume Weir, so we checked that out on the way. Home to a lovely Canberra autumn display, and some more warm weather. No complaints!

photo Photos

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Our journey -it's a long way! Arriving in Mungo National Park. We liked the name of the Mutthi Mutthi people! 15/4/2010. View across "Lake" Mungo- last filled 15,000 years ago - to the "Wall of China", the white lunette (long crescent-shaped sand dune) in the distance. 15/4/2010. We loved the campsites at the main camp. 15/4/2010. Sunset at the campground, Mungo National Park, 15/4/2010. They even let you have a fire! 15/4/2010. Mungo Woolshed, built from local cypress pine (there aren't many left!) in 1869. 16/4/2010. Emu on the lake bed, approaching the Wall of China. 16/4/2010. It had rained some days before - love the cracks in the drying mud! 16/4/2010. Looking to the northeast from the Wall of China. 16/4/2010. Runoff channel from the Wall of China. 15/4/2010. Mallee woodland with fresh new growth, 16/4/2010. A flowering mistletoe, 16/4/2010. Going into the dugout at Zanci Station, built to protect the stationowners and their provisions from the searing heat of summer. Timber-lined and earth-sheltered! 16/4/2010. The stables at Zanci Homestead, 16/4/2010. Late afternoon light on the Wall of China. 16/4/2010. Towards sunset - great shadows. 16/4/2010. Different colours in the clay, all glow in the sunset light. 16/4/2010. An ant leaves a fine trail in the loose sand. 16/4/2010. Spot the backpack - whoops! 16/4/2010. We were snapping away like fashion photographers!16/4/2010. Final pink and gold blush before the sun set. 16/4/2010. Last rays of the setting sun. 16/4/2010. Jet trail in the sky and dust trail from an approaching vehicle at sunset. 16/4/2010. Dead trees make great silhouettes! 16/4/2010. Flowing creek on the way to Menindee, 17/4/2010. The Darling River near Weir 32. Shags taking off. 17/4/2010. Kinchega Woolshed, a huge building, built in the 1870s. Six million sheep were shorn here before it closed in 1967. 17/4/2010. Last rays of the sun finally create some colour after a long wait! Lake Cawndilla, 17/4/2010. Cawndilla Creek  links Lake Menindee to Lake Cawndilla. Flowing very swiftly, filling Lake Cawndilla. 18/4/2010. Mulga parrot, 18/4/2010. Huge old river gums. 18/4/2010. Water pouring into Lake Menindee. It's the first time many of the lakes have filled in ten years (though Lake Menindee itself is usually kept at a reasonable level.) 18/4/2010. This magnificent gum was blown over many years ago and has just kept growing, at 90 degrees to its original direction. 18/4/2010. Gloden sunlight on the edge of Lake Cawndilla. Water is probably covering this lovely grassland by now. 18/4/2010. Another sunset, another silhouette. 18/4/2010. Lake Cawndilla filling as the water flows through from the north. 18/4/2010. This curious shoe tree was south of Tandou Station - we've seen everything now! 19/4/2010. Ex-grasshoppers on our windscreen. 19/4/2010. Ex-grasshoppers on the front of the Paj. Yuk! 20/4/2010. The river Murray at Boundary Bend. 20/4/2010. Echuca Wharf on the Murray. Love the ducklings! 20/4/2010. Lake Mulwala and storm clouds. 20/4/2010. Just in case you thought it might be fun to go in the water... 20/4/2010. Autumn has arrived in our garden. Nice to be back. 22/4/2010.

Posted on May 7th, 2010, tagged with events

One response to “Mungo and Kinchega – April 2010”

  1. Fred says:

    Good trip and at the right time too Ellers